Sony Japan Studio’s new PSN game Rain looks like a modernised version of old Resident Evil games. Perhaps that’s a good thing. As with many AAA game developments, games in the Resident Evil series have lacked the creative spark that once made the series so great. It’s good to see a studio taking on the old style of Resident Evil gameplay and moving it in new directions.
Rain: It’s like Resident Evil, but without gore and terror.
Sony seem to appreciate the importance of creativity in video game design. Their new Creative Audition Mash-Up project was created specifically to celebrate and to encourage creativity in game design. It’s succeeding too, as games like Echocrome and Tokyo Jungle attest.
Another game to come from the project is PSN title Rain, the brainchild of game director Yuki Ikeda. Rain tells the story of a boy and a girl who are stuck in a world of eternal night and constant rain. The atmosphere of Rain is dark and foreboding. There’s a solitariness about Rain as we observe the young boy spying on a girl from afar and chasing her for no reason at all. The one thing that brings the boy and girl together is a sense of loneliness.
Rain’s introduction is quiet and understated but gives a palpable sense of atmosphere and draws the gamer deep into the game’s world. Lines of text provide hints, keeping the narrative afloat and providing hints of where to go and what to do.
Rain is a puzzle-platform game with simple mechanics . The gameplay harkens back to Resident Evil games of old. There’s no horror and no gore but there is a sense of impending doom, much like that found in Resident Evil. The young boy whom we play is unarmed and is only able to overcome enemies by luring them into traps.
The relationship between the boy and the girl is one of Rain’s strong points. It’s a touching relationship reminiscent of Iko, the boy and the girl helping each other to overcome obstacles
The relationship between the boy and girl is one of Rain’s strongest points
If there is one thing that Rain illustrates admirably it is the importance of atmosphere in game design. High-end graphics and ultra-realism are not so important compared to the sense of atmosphere a game achieves. Anyone who has played Journey will know that much already. Rain creates a deep sense of isolation and a gloomy mood that truly leaps out of the screen.
With the Creative Audition Mach-Up Project producing such quality games as Rain, we can only hope that more of the industry chooses to focus on originality and creativity in the future.