Stepping outside in the rain is a common occurrence for most people, but what would happen if that was the only way anyone knew you existed? Such is the case in Sony's latest downloadable title, Rain, which tells the story of a little boy who has all but disappeared on a rainy night while trying to help save a little girl from a ghostly monster.
Who: Developer: PlayStation C.A.M.P.!/ Acquire Corp. Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
The PlayStation C.A.M.P.! project was set up set up in Japan to allow amateur game designers to submit ideas, and ultimately see them come to fruition on a PlayStation platform. Previous titles that have come out of this creative group include the excellent puzzle game echochrome, and one of last year's most interesting curiosities, Tokyo Jungle. These games have brought some outside the box thinking to a first party publisher, and have carved a nice little niche for themselves as both intriguing and enjoyable games. Rain continues their tradition of quirky, yet deep games.
What: While staying home from the circus with a fever, the young boy in Rain looks out of his bedroom window, and sees a little girl being chased by a giant monster. He quickly runs outside to help her, and soon finds himself transported to a desolate city on a rainy night, where he seems to have all but disappeared. In a similar fashion to the H.G. Wells' literary classic The Invisible Man, and the less classical cinematic endeavor by Bill Cosby, Ghost Dad, the little boy in Rain only takes shape when his body is covered in something, in this case, it's rain. When he is outside, and the deluge gushes over him, you can see his full figure, but if he steps under some form of cover he disappears, down to just dusty footsteps. As he chases after the little girl who is suffering from the same invisibility affliction, the two must use their unique skills as stealth maneuvers to avoid The Unknown. The monster is their constant foil all night, as it tries to banish them to the darkness forever.
Where: This week, Rain will land exclusively on the PlayStation 3, courtesy of the PlayStation Network. This download-only title will set you back $14.99, and be worth every penny.
Why: Rain blends a compelling story with innovative gameplay to create one of the most intriguing downloadable titles of the year. The experience illustrates how video games can be captured as more of a cinematic undertaking, allowing players to explore the world without having to worry about insurmountable challenges. Ultimately, Rain is more about the story of the relationship between the two little children who spend the vast majority of the game running from The Unknown, as opposed to the gameplay itself. The stealth mechanics are simple and accessible, making Rain easy to understand for anyone that's ever opened an umbrella on a rainy day. This shift lets players focus more on the characters and story than the gameplay itself.
Rain follows in the footsteps of other great interactive stories like ICO, The Unfinished Swan, and Papo y Yo (all Sony titles), where the developers put the story front and center, and created a compelling experience around it. As the little boy and the little girl explore their damp world, players will be sucked in as the tale unravels, and they'll form the type of emotional bond that only video games can really create. With approachable gameplay, and a simple story, Rain comes together to build out a wonderfully dark world, while proving that every cloud has a silver lining.