I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the e-mail assigning me review duties for Sony’s upcoming Rain. It was pouring outside when I read it. Tis’ the time of year for this type of weather I suppose. Luckily, I love the rain. Although miserable, this type of weather has a certain cozy charm to it. Not a single soul I know hasn’t enjoyed a day indoors away from the damp grossness outside. Anyhow, I have to admit that in regards to Rain for the PS3, I paid little attention to it prior to being assigned to review it. Well, after playing I am left with the thought that if there was a time to scream “I told you so” to my face, now would be it. This game is wonderful.
I consider platformers one of the core genres of gaming and it would be safe bet to say that I’m not alone in this notion. Without this genre much of what we know and cherish in gaming today could be very different given how platforming has progressed through the years. But what’s better that a good platformer? A really good one. If you look all the way back to the primordial sludge from which games emerged, you’ll find that they’ve naturally evolved since the genre took hold of gamers everywhere. Each time a change has been introduced the bar has been raised, forcing more change that has branched in many different directions. Rain is an impressive result of this evolution. You’ll find no monster bonking under the hood though, much to the chagrin of the platformers of yore. Instead, you get a delightfully narrative adventure that is fueled by one single and powerful element: The Rain.
Rain implements a unique style of stealth that has your character, simply known as “The Boy”, alternating between visibility and invisibility depending on whether or not you’re standing under the downpour. Basically put, if you’re wet, you’re seen. Like most other stealthy games there is some measure of puzzle solving in the mix. It’s done very carefully here though, almost in a way that makes it feel like there aren’t puzzles at all, rather it feels like there are different means of traversing the terrain around you; obstacles and hiding places being the two that immediately come to mind. I did find that, unfortunately, you need to be almost painfully precise when interacting with some objects in the game, placing yourself in almost near perfect relation to the object in question. Sometimes, this came as a detriment, but it was mostly harmless and I found it more of a nuisance than anything else.
In regards to the presentation, everything is pleasing to look at and listen to, and the bottom line is that is what is most important. What is really truly striking is the thought and the detail that went into everything included here. From the watercolor opening, the moveable, scattered objects to the various audio cues, it’s clear that great care was taken when creating this game. Visibly and audibly Rain is strongly French influenced. The music, the buildings, the clothes to the cars and streets, every inch from front to back has this French influence. But perhaps the single most brilliant thing about the game’s presentation is how appropriately the piano heavy music matches the falling rain. It’s a beautiful mix of dark and dreary, with calm and soothing overtones.
Rain isn’t the longest game I’ve ever played, nor is it the most frantic or thrilling, but it is definitely an incredibly enjoyable and engaging tale of two children lost in the cold, dark of night. In the end if you are a platform enthusiast like me looking to dive into the latest and greatest or you are simply looking for a good way to spend some time before the onslaught of winter games hits store shelves, Rain hits the mark. After playing this game, which I didn’t even give a second look to prior to reviewing it, one thing is for certain; Sony has given us a great reason to bundle up inside and stay out of the seasonal wet weather.