Indie gaming has been on somewhat of a breakthrough in mainstream and critical acceptance lately with titles such as Journey and Braid delivering highly regarded abstract and emotional experiences. These games are vastly different from most mainstream offerings and in their continuous gradual welcoming are becoming more and more readily available. Rain is the next project in this vein of game design and is developed by Project C.A.M.P, the creators of last years zany and off the wall title Tokyo Jungle; which was essentially a gritty wildlife simulator full of animal violence and humping. Its an uproariously refreshing game that earned the developers my money on their next offering. Rain is nothing like that experience though, which isnt a bad thing at all. Instead this is a somber and melancholic tale of an invisible boy completely isolated in a deserted town in blackness full of blue ghostly creatures. Alone and frightened, the nameless boy comes across a young girl whom is also invisible and scared out of her wits. The boy becomes infatuated with catching up to this girl as obviously, two heads are better than one in a life threatening and confusing crisis. Whether you are in the early stages chasing the girl or in the second half teamed up, Rain has its own memorable gameplay mechanic to set itself apart from other games in general, and that is once again your invisibility but theres a catch; it doesnt work when underneath any form of protection from the titular rain. When out in the open of the hammering rain you are a mere transparent and ghostly silhouette. This design decision paves the way for a number of puzzles and genuinely creative area layouts, but whats most commendable is how the game consistently introduces new variables to the premise. Sometimes there will be puddles of murky brown muddy rain that you are forced to trudge to but in doing so you begin to leave footprints that enemies can use to their advantage in catching you. During later areas of the game you must work in cohesion with your automated partner to solve various puzzles by pushing objects or heaving the girl up higher landmarks. Theres also some very basic platforming sprinkled in to keep things fresh. There are most certainly many refreshing and intriguing ideas within Rain but nothing ever comes to fruition or stands out. All of the puzzles are practically thoughtlessly easy where the only real challenge is the rapid snippets of trial and error as with one mistake youre dead, but fortunately the checkpoint system is shockingly generous. I fell to my death once and the game just placed me right before the pit I met my end from. Its all just a mixed bag of level design where you leave the game not remembering any specific puzzle (outside of the Circus which Ill admit was multilayered and satisfying) but that you zoomed through every one within two minutes. All the resources were seemingly pooled into the abstract narrative which is completely free of dialogue but rather storybook style text plastered over the screen during cinematic moments. And for what its worth, the artistic design and story does a great job at emotionally investing players into the plight of our mute and nameless protagonists in ways reminiscent of the cult classic PS2 game Ico .Sure everything about these characters are left to your imagination and deeper thinking, but the atmosphere brings the endearing characters to life in ways that make you eager to see their journey through to its conclusion. Graphically Rain isnt the most impressive downloadable title available but the charming silhouettes, pouring rain, and bleak surroundings make up for disappointing textural shortcomings. Theres also an enchanting original soundtrack full of catchy instruments including Accordions, Chellos, Flutes, and beautifully mellow Piano numbers. Upon completing the game theres also a charmingly sung piece that wraps up the game nicely. Unfortunately for Rain, its only around 3.5 hours long with no real incentive to ever return. In a pretty lame move, the developers decided to allow collectables to only be retrieved on a second playthrough, and while I enjoyed Rain, its simply not worth playing again unless the story mystifies you so much in an intriguing way that you absolutely have to return back immediately for a more sophisticated understanding. For $15 though, its definitely not a terrible bargain by any means. Is Rain worthy enough to sit beside Indie darlings such as Journey, Braid, and Limbo? Probably not, but its an admirable attempt seeping at the pores with creativity and refreshing concepts. Its just a shame everything isnt as refined as it should be. Despite that, its still an enjoyable artistic experience that is worth getting lost in the rain for. Rain is available now exclusively over Playstation Network
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I write for WhatCulture (duh) and MammothCinema. Born with Muscular Dystrophy Type 2; lover of film, games, wrestling, and TV. You can follow me on Twitter @Solid_Fantasy or friend me on FB @ https://www.facebook.com/SolidFantasy