sun 27/09/2020

Rain | reviews, news & interviews

Rain

Rain

Beautiful, but that doesn't make this downbeat stealth game art

'Rain': A mash-up of 'Silent Hill''s stealth scares, 'Ico''s rescue gameplay and atmosphere and 'Heavy Rain''s, well, rain

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance," wrote Aristotle. And you know what, the old Greek geezer knew a thing or two. While this downbeat stealth/platform game delivers a pure aesthetic thrill, it sadly fails to follow through in a cohesive theme or thrilling play.

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance," wrote Aristotle. And you know what, the old Greek geezer knew a thing or two. While this downbeat stealth/platform game delivers a pure aesthetic thrill, it sadly fails to follow through in a cohesive theme or thrilling play.

A boy ends up chasing a mysterious and ghostly girl in a rainy European city – something happens and he, like her, is trapped in a darkened, Escher-esque version of that city, permanently engulfed in darkness and rain. Like her, he now is only visible in the rain – under the cover of canopies or archways he disappears. Now, the boy and girl must meet, collaborate and escape from the horrific "Unknown" bony creature and its strange, bony dogs stalking them, trying to work their way across the nightmare city back to home, reality, safety.

Rain for PS3 - downbeat stealth gaming riffs off Ico, Heavy Rain and Silent HillSet to a score of Clair de Lune, by Debussy, the grey and dank visuals and tentative relationship between the girl and boy, forged in the flight from the Unknown, marry beautifully. Aesthetically, this downbeat game is spectacular. But there's far too little going on beneath the surface.

Rain obviously takes cues from ICO Studios' Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus. But there's none of the plotting detail or narrative elegance here that elevates both of those games to being some of the finest of the last ten years, to being easily worth the label of art. At the same time, the style reduces the tension of the cat-and-mouse stealth play between the boy and girl and Unknown. What could be Silent Hill with rain replacing fog is drained of real tension or horror by a visual style that's just a bit too twee and mellow.

Rain for PS3 - downbeat stealth gaming riffs off Ico, Heavy Rain and Silent HillThe lack of tension's not helped by the gameplay itself. Early on the game introduces a series of lovely gameplay ideas – first the idea of the boy and girl and the monsters disappearing when under cover, leaving just damp footprints; soon after, puddles arrive that the boy and girl can jump in to attract and divert enemy attention; finally, mud leaves the boy and girl visible, even under cover, until they wash it off.

These are brilliant gameplay ideas that are dropped into the game, then left without much support. It surely would have been easy to construct levels where the boy and/or girl get mud-splattered and then have to dodge around their enemies frantically until they can find something to dunk themselves clean in? Instead, the game settles quickly into a pattern of dunking you in mud, then giving you a watery puddle to wash in almost immediately after.

The end result is an aesthetic triumph, but an ultimately unsatisfying play. If you want depth to your artistic videogaming, Rain is a washout.

Aesthetically, this downbeat game is spectacular. But there's far too little going on beneath the surface

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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