Developed by: Acquire
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Feeling Like: Curling up with a good book
You may remember from the Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag post that wind is the most obnoxious element. Unless you’re a sailor, or an anime character looking melodramatically into a forest, it’s a nuisance. Rain, on the other hand, is nature’s consistent gift to us all. I love rain.
Rain’s main environmental theme gives it an unfair advantage over games 416-500. If it was called “Windy, sunny, sunscreen required”, it wouldn’t even be on the list.
It’s a small, quiet game. You play as a nameless child that is trying to survive in a European city, where it is perpetually raining. The presentation and atmosphere are the game’s highlights; ghostly text appears, describing the actions in front of you and dropping subtle hints. Camera angles ensure that you’re constantly in awe at the silent and deadly beauty of the cobblestone streets, abandoned churches and horrifying enemies that lurk behind every corner.
The main antagonist, the Unknown, is one of the best villain designs I’ve ever seen and is unnaturally terrifying. It walks like a confident marionette, its paper-thin arm holds a freakish set of fingers. A specter of death, you never want this thing to see you. Think Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth meets Tar Man from Return of the Living Dead and you’ve got an idea of how creepy I found this thing. Points for that.
The more I think about Rain, the more I admire it. Stealth isn’t usually something I welcome with open arms, but in this case I never felt like I was being held back. Your character, and the monsters, are invisible unless they’re exposed to the rain. The outlines are then shown, both to the player and the enemies, rendering you visible and exposed. It’s a clever mechanic, and creates a dichotomy where you begin to both admire and dread the downpour. Invisibility means temporary safety, but you must eventually get moving.
The Unknown is relentless, and I thought Rain went overboard on how often you would have to elude the creature. It appears to be indestructible, even after hours of dodging it, or trapping it; he ventures into Jason territory from Friday the 13th and is always right behind you. This would’ve be satisfactory if done a few times, but I did feel that it wore out its welcome long before the game’s conclusion.
But repetition and shallow puzzles weren’t nearly enough to drag down my appreciation. This somber fairy tale is so confident in its own storytelling that I felt totally justified in playing the entire game in a single setting. Since you don’t have any fighting prowess at all, the dreary setting and efficient enemies take a psychological toll on you, helping you to greatly empathize with the two children and genuinely want to see a satisfying conclusion.
Rain is literally drenched in atmosphere, aided by a soundtrack that features appropriate piano tracks (Chopin’s raindrop Prelude is particularly well used) and welcomed accordion melodies. Much like how you would seek sanctuary from a downpour by hiding under an awning, you’re given a reprieve in Rain by doing so. It’s all so natural, but surreal at the same time as you avoid the Unknown in an Eshcer-esque labyrinth in the Endgame. If you’re a fan of rain and like feeling lonely once in a while, do yourself a favor and dive in.