Looking at the preview footage and musicality of Rain, I was immediately reminded of Journey. It had that same sense of desolation, of loneliness, of discovery… that I had come to remember Journey for. While I wouldn’t say that I was actually excited for Rain, because excitement is completely the wrong emotion for a game like this, I was absolutely looking forward to it with anticipation. I had very high hopes for this game, this lonely pursuit of a girl amid the rainwashed streets of a town with no people in it.
In Rain, you play as a young child who, one rainy night, follows a girl who can only be seen in the rain through a doorway into a world that seems to mirror their own, except that there are no people anywhere and it is perpetually raining. Well, none except you and the girl… but that isn’t to say you’re alone. This mysterious rainy city is inhabited by strange monsters – some friendly, some not. And the bad ones seem only interested in two things: you and the girl.
Parts of the game completely and utterly terrified me. The game, for the most part, did a fantastic job of really making you feel like you are there, running through those streets. The music especially helps to create an atmosphere of loneliness and suspense as you desperately try to evade discovery.
The graphics really help to sell the experience too. While I wouldn’t say this is a beautiful game, it wasn’t designed for beauty. But the environments, the monsters, the rain… everything fits together. Some might find the city to be a bit repetitive, but the reality is that if you were in an actual city from the period this seems to be set in, most of the streets would look similar. Most of the buildings would be made of similar materials. It wouldn’t make sense to be otherwise so I’m glad they went that route.
The unfortunate part is that the game seems unable to decide who its audience is. If you were to look at the game without the story content, it truly feels like a game designed to cater to a mature audience, but when you add the story it starts to make you feel like they think you’re a child… you see, Rain has no dialogue in it. The story is told to you through writing that appears in the environment. It’s written in a way reminiscent of children’s books… and it just doesn’t work. You’re left with no mystery, really, since the writing literally tells you everything you’re supposed to be doing, and it’s all written in an incredibly condescending tone. It was truly the game’s biggest flaw, and it would’ve been much better without it.
The game’s platforming was fairly simplistic, but interesting enough that I was never bored. It introduces mechanics every so often, but seems to largely forget they exist, and doesn’t do a very good job of reusing ideas in new ways. You’ll run into large enemies you can hide under in one level, but then never really encounter them again. This could potentially be a good way to keep things fresh… if it weren’t for the writing on the wall. In addition to offering condescension and an attempt at story… it also tells you exactly what to do for any puzzle. If mechanics were reused, this might not be an issue as it could be seen as a tutorial. Sadly, mechanics aren’t reused so it leaves you feeling almost as if the entire game is a tutorial.
The game does succeed very well in creating a feeling of connection between you and the boy, and more importantly between the boy and the girl. In this world where they can’t talk, they can barely see each other… they form a touching relationship amid the terror. I would say this is it’s greatest success.