Rain (2013) Video Game Review

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My experience with late arrivals in gaming generations has been surprisingly positive, from Final Fantasy IX coming out on the PS1 in europe shortly after the release of the PS2.  To Yakuza 2 and Persona 4 as PS2 games that came out within a year of the PS3’s release, and all 3, but particularly the later 2 ended up being among my favourite instalments to their respective series.  However it can also be argued that occasionally a later arrival is literally missing the boat, and is this case, perhaps, there was a 6-8 week window of opportunity to shine before getting lost in the shuffle.  As a Digital Download Exclusive, never mind a PS3 exclusive…lets talk about a game that might get lost in time…This is Rain.

Set in the early to mid 20th century in Paris, our story revolves around a young boy who enters a bizarre world after seeing a young girl being chased by a large, menacing creature.  The world is like Paris, only it’s night time, and raining constantly, and every being is seemingly spiritual or at least invisible.  The boy finds out that he can only be seen in any place where it rains.  Meaning shelter from the rain is his only defence against the creatures of the night that stalk the streets.  His goal is to find the girl and, perhaps, get them both home again.

Now to discuss the usual blocks;

The Graphics, in their own way, have a timelessness to them.  But they are far from breaking any barriers.  It was released about 2 months before the PS4 came out, and about 4 months after the PS3 released its best looking game (in my opinion), which was The Last Of Us.  The rain effects put it visually above a late PS2 game, but it is very middle ground, even on an indie-developer level.  Either way, it’s neither ugly nor dated nor spectacular.

The Art Style is very good, and setting it in a mid 20th century Paris aesthetic is always a plus.  However, it is of a niche taste.  This game is closer in visual style to the likes of Limbo and Inside rather than the likes of Brothers and Child Of Light.  The drained colour scheme, which brings out the light in the game very well, only changes in the Intro, Ending and occasionally a room here and there.  After I while I found myself feeling bored of what I was looking at, and that’s despite including a Circus and an old factory as levels.

The Level Design is solid with emphasis on being a collection of run and hide puzzles and plenty of sight seeing…Kind of like The Last Of Us in some ways.  The game does a good job at differentiating each level with different backgrounds and even a different pace, in particular Chapter 4.  However there is a sameness that’s prevalent throughout the experience, even with each new location.

The Gameplay is minimalist, as the controls consist mostly of running, climbing and occasionally picking something up, like a key or a Clown Doll.  There are no attacks against enemies – all you can do is distract, hide and run, which is a logical choice when you’re a child surrounded by monsters.  The game provides good tension in this way.  The puzzles evolve a little bit overtime to have some new approaches.  But it is less about puzzles being harder and more about repackaging solutions that are the same throughout the game.

The Story is simple, yet abstract in nature.  Boy looks for girl to rescue her, and then tries to get both her and himself home.  Although I wasn’t too fussed on how the story was built.  Much like the gameplay, most of it felt the same the whole way through without any determination on the part of the player, and after a while, you just want to get it finished.

The Music is by far the best thing about Rain.  The main theme is Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy…and it’s perfect for this game, quite literally.  Yugo Kanno, the game’s composer decided to add lyrics to Claire de Lune, which neither adds nor takes away from itself.  The rest of the score does a great job at creating the feelings of concern, tension and even sadness.

Would I recommend Rain?  Yes…but once might be enough and twice is pushing it.  I’m aware of the “Memories Collection” which is available in the second play-through as a way to flesh out the story more, and yes, it gives you 3 trophies for your Playstation achievements…But unless you really enjoyed the gameplay and wanted to play it again, you would be better off watching a 10 minute youtube video that shows you each memory rather than using up another 3-4 hours to get them and the trophies.  The game has many good qualities, but despite its short play time, it felt long and drawn out.

Graphics: ***1/2

Art Style: ****1/4

Level Design: ***1/4

Gameplay: ***1/4

Story: ***

Music: *****

Overall: ***3/4

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