Beautiful piano music, and the sound of rain. That’s the soundtrack of Rain, an atmospheric game from Japan Studio with shades of Ico and Limbo.
The gameplay in the demo, which takes place at the beginning of the game, is quite simple – walk, climb a bit, run, hide in shelter. You’re in a world in which you can only be seen when you’re in the rain – an invisible person revealed by the shape of rain falling on you. It seems you have entered a different realm, one of night, rain and silence. There is only you, the little girl you followed into this realm, and the strange enemy skeletal dogs.
The graphics are quite simple, with simple geometry and minimal effects. The art suits the story and world, never distracting from the loneliness and isolation the rain and Debussy strains are communicating. The moon is an important symbol; Clair de Lune plays when the game starts and the girl walks towards the crescent at the end of the demo. The moon has long been the symbol of insanity (lunatic, for example, being a word that indicates this), so I wonder whether there is any madness at work here.
The puzzles are similar to those in Limbo in style – each little section requires you to approach it slightly differently. One time you just need to walk between shelters (where you’re invisible) when the dogs are looking the other way. Another part you have to make a noise in some puddles to attract the dog so that you can pass through a small opening he was guarding. In another you goad a dog into jumping into a wooden structure to knock it down. All the while the rain falls and the sad, beautiful, haunting piano plays.
The demo ended while you’re still in the town you started in, and you never go inside. There are so many questions here. Who is that girl? Who is the boy who is the main characters in his pajamas, the one who didn’t go to the circus that night because he had a fever? Who are these dogs, and why is the town so desolate? Why doesn’t the girl just go inside and get out of the rain? Why does the boy not feel the cold? Hopefully some of these will be answered in the course of Rain, and I look forward to playing its understated, melancholy story later this year.
Rain is a PlayStation Network game for the PlayStation 3 that comes out later this year.
Watch the new trailer for Rain from E3 below to hear the haunting music and see the puzzles in action, and be sure to browse through our previous coverage for more screenshots and trailers from the game.