Rain: As We Play

As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time.

All feedback on this concept is welcome.

Wet Dream

After a beautifully painted watercolour intro sequence showing two children lost in the rain, I expected this game to be a quirky, cute and whimsical indie adventure. The moment I started actually playing Rain however, I realized how very wrong my preconceptions were.

The second you  are dropped into the game, Rain’s atmosphere completely engulfs you. You awake to find yourself invisible and alone in a vast, abandoned and dimly light European city with only the constant pitter patter of the rain for company.

The narrative set up of the game is minimal, with only the brief watercolour intro painting the scene for your journey. I felt confused but intrigued – why is the boy I am playing only visible in the rain? What has happened to the city?  And who is this mysterious girl from the introduction? The vivid and whimsical nature of the story telling is fragmented and dream like, and much like in a dream you feel compelled to go wherever Rain will decide to  take you.

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The haunting, piano-led soundtrack compliments the dream-like atmosphere perfectly, and seamlessly interweaves with the noise of the rain, making the game ooze with atmosphere and tension. As I continue to explore however, the intermittent, jarring melodies of the soundtrack make it increasingly clear that something isn’t quite right.

I follow the alleyway to its natural end, and as the music continues to raise the tension to unbearable levels – I see why. At the end of the alleyway, the little girl from the start is running off into the distance with a pack of transparent skeletal beasts relentlessly pursuing her.

Then everything clicks – Rain isn’t a recreation of a dream, it’s a playable nightmare.

 Grab an umbrella

 The gameplay in rain revolves around making your way through the abandoned city undetected and finding your way home. You become visible in the rain, but are completely invisible under shelter. You spend your time sprinting through open spaces to reach shop front covers, and any roofs you can to avoid the creatures of the darkness that are trying their best to devour you.

At first gameplay mainly boils down to watching the creatures patrol, figuring out their pattern and running past them to the next cover, but then Rain gets much more interesting.

What rain does that few modern games seem to, is that it makes you feel completely and utterly vulnerable at all times. In Rain, you really are just a little boy, you can’t fight – when those beasts come for you you run, you hide and you pray that they don’t catch up to you. Rain plays on your fragility  by making you expose yourself to your hunters in order to advance through to the next section. Some paths can only be reached by running directly past your enemy, or getting pant wettingly close to the beasts in order to distract them and then make a dash for it, and these are some of the most tense encounters I’ve experienced in a game.

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As well as just hiding from the creatures,you can use sound and various objects littered around the city to draw out your foes. The Intractable objects to lure enemies range from– teddy bears to puddles, organs etc and others that I won’t spoil for you.

The gameplay is simple – you have a button to run, jump and interact with the environment. But the clever use of environment and the masterful sense of atmosphere and tension make Rain a hugely compelling and totally abosribing experience.

The variation in enemy types, and the ICO-esuqe puzzle solving of the later chapters make the game feel varied and keeps the gameplay as absorbing as the atmosphere that Rain creates.

Film Noir

 The whole game is dripping with atmosphere, and Rain doesn’t try and disturb this with voiced acted cutscenes or annoyingly spoken conversations. The sinister soundtrack and the sound effects are a huge part of the atmosphere, and the game uses stylised lines of text that appear as you play to narrate what is happening on-screen. Not hearing your chacrter speak adds to the sense of him being trapped in a nightmare, and makes you feel as though he is an avatar for the player rather than a fully blown character. The fact that he ahs no name and is just referred to as ‘the boy’ adds to the connection you feel with the sad silhouette.

Summary

Rain is one of the creepiest and most atmospheric games that I have played in a long while. The unique setting and tone of the game perfectly recreate the experience of a childhood nightmare, and feeling a sense of vulnerability in a game is truly refreshing in an industry flooded with AAA super-solider games. The gameplay may be simple and the game will only last you around six hours, but the experience of playing Rain will stay with you for long after. Rain may not be for everyone, but if you like games that provide you with a real emotional connection and a healthy sense of dread – you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.

About the author

Tom Regan

Tom is a London based preview writer with a burning passion for gaming, he also writes for The Daily Joypad as well as doing freelance work.