Hands On Preview: Rain
Back in June at E3, Sony had set up their booth with the addition of a mezzanine area to showcase indie titles. The best part of it though, is that a lot of people didn’t realize that it was open for anyone to check out, so it was a great spot to relax a bit, and play some great games. As I attempted to rest a bit on one of the comfy couches they’d provided, Rain was running on the PS3 in front of me. I quickly grabbed the controller and started the demo, but I didn’t have the headphones on because I was also in the middle of a conversation. I enjoyed what I played at E3, and it definitely put Rain on my radar. As you can guess, when an unexpected package arrived at my house last week, I was quite surprised to find a copy of the game inside. I loaded it up as soon as I could, and then the audio kicked-in. Wow, what I had missed by not putting the headphones on at E3.
Things start with different watercolor images that show how your character is pulled-in to this world where seemingly only yourself, the beasts that hunt you, and the girl that you’re attempting to save have been rendered invisible. You see the girl being chased by a different being than the “normal” beasts that roam the different areas. This one walks upright, and one hand is actually a large club-like object, and he’s apparently not happy that either you or the girl are in this world.
Everywhere you go, it’s raining. Since you’re invisible though, this is the only way that you can be seen, which can be good or bad depending on the situation. The beasts that roam the streets are pretty simple-minded. If they see you, they attack. If they hear you run through a deep puddle, they attack. So obviously, if they’re in your proximity, your goal is to not be seen or heard. Fortunately, there are usually overhangs that shield you from the falling rain, making you invisible to the patrols.
This is a stealth game at its core, and you’re limited to only walking, running, climbing, and jumping. Some specific objects like doors can also be interacted with, but unlike some other games in this genre, you won’t be searching around for hidden items or secret rooms. So far the game has been more of an interactive story, including triggered events that you are meant to encounter. There are some puzzle elements involved as well, such as a door that you need to get through, but it requires a key. When you finally find it, the larger of your enemies walks into the courtyard, blocking your path to the door. The built-in hint system, which is optional to use, suggests distracting the beast. Then I remember the pipe organ that I’d run-across before.
In the last of the three chapters that this article is covering, you need to work your way through a very large factory. There are no people anywhere, so the feeling of isolation warms over as you traverse the different obstacles in your path, and unlike the cramped city streets, this factory is pretty huge. The entire journey so far has been in pursuit of the girl that you chased into this world, but the Hunter is hot on your trail. In true Solid Snake form, there are lockers to hide in, and as expected, this game can get insanely tense, and all without any words spoken. The combination of the music, sound effects, and level design, all while the Hunter pursues you relentlessly heightens the tension masterfully.
I purposely only played the first three chapters so that I wouldn’t be influenced by anything down the line. I will say that so far, Rain has the potential for greatness. I’m not sure that it’s another ‘Journey’, but the team has done some truly awesome work here. Even with no dialogue, the text woven into the scenery, and the other prompts built directly into the environments keep the player moving along through the story. I’m pretty excited to continue my adventure this weekend, and I hope that you’ll be excited to find out more about Rain in the coming weeks.
* All screenshots used in this preview were taken directly from the game using the Blackmagic Intensity Pro.