Sony’s PlayStation 3 has certainly become the best place to find some of the most thought-provoking games that say so much with so little. While games like LIMBO were cross-platform across the PC and Xbox 360, the PS3 has had some of the best games the storytelling genre has seen this generation. Flower, Journey, The Unfinished Swan, and Heavy Rain are often regarded as some of the finest pieces of interactive media ever created. Enter Rain, a game that tells a story about an invisible boy that is only visible when it rains. A short but sweet cinematic was shown during Sony’s E3 press conference and while Rain looked promising, there wasn’t much in the way of solid information until the game was released last week.
Rain is a curious tale that seems to borrow a lot from the already mentioned LIMBO. You play as a small boy who finds out he’s completely invisible, and you quickly meet a little girl who also shares this same fate. As he’s got no idea what’s happened to him or what to do next, he does the most obvious thing and follows her. It turns out, she’s being chased by a horrendous monster called “The Unknown” (it’s clear that this is a metaphor for children always being afraid of what they don’t know.) Much like Journey or LIMBO, the only real options here are to run, jump, and essentially find ways to escape danger by completing fairly straightforward puzzles.
This is fine for awhile, but eventually everything just sprinkles down to be nothing but a series of sequences that involve using the environment to escape danger over and over again.
Fortunately, the game isn’t very long so by the time it starts to get old, it’s over. If rain had been released before the influx of incredible games in this genre had been released, it would have been a lot more interesting, inventive, and endearing. Unfortunately, we’ve also come to expect just a little bit more from these experiences and because of that, rain often feels like it just fell a little short trying to weave those emotional heartstrings. But the other upside, rain’s got an excellent soundtrack that’s worth the price of admission alone.
I’m a big fan of the art style which rain is presented in. There’s some terrific watercolor sequences, and I really love the dark and dreary atmosphere that only a game which requires rainy weather could present. For me, maybe there’s just been to many purely emotional experiences lately and it’s dulled my reaction to these connections. While other titles were able to entice and excite, I felt myself almost immediately disconnected from rain as it started to grab me – and that’s a shame since I really wanted to absolutely love it.
Please understand, my criticisms are extremely harsh because of how much I love these types of games. Rain is a solid though brief experience and is worth your money, especially if you’ve never played another game of this type. Rain is good, it just falls a bit short of being great.