Don’t be fooled by Rain’s artistic, watercolor-filled introduction, nor the haunting piano patter of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” After this bright introduction, the game remains moodily true to its emphatically stylized lowercase and low-key title: Everything in this world is drab and colorless, and the characters are literally invisible, their outlines visible only when standing in the relentless rain or covered in mud. The love story of the silent boy and girl who come together to escape this shadowy realm is childish, one-note, and pales in comparison to Ico, and the core stealth and survival-horror mechanics are undercut by the casual gameplay. It’s like the crossover between Hugo and Silent Hill that nobody ever asked for.
Like an actual storm itself, Rain expends all of its invigorating freshness within the first 10 minutes, and what follows is more of a tedious and waterlogged slog. Each bit of gameplay is introduced as if it’s on a checklist. Look at how loud noises, like running through a puddle, attract nearby monsters! Watch out for soggy footprints, as enemies are also invisible when sheltered from rain! And note that when you’re carrying objects, you can always be seen!
Rain doesn’t allow you to figure any of this out; the camera focuses on interactive objects, and the narrative literally spells it out for you, with lines of prose appearing alongside the walls. This only grows more noticeable once the Boy that you control catches up with the Girl, as you’re often forced to follow her lead, working together as in Resident Evil 4 or The Last of Us to overcome obstacles and create artificial awnings for one another to hide beneath. Worse, her AI is horrendous and particularly enjoys breaking cover as you attempt to navigate around the giant Nemesis-like Unknown that’s inexplicably pursuing you. (Don’t expect the game to offer any satisfying explanations.)
There’s nothing in Rain that isn’t accomplished more deftly by other games that precede it, and in fact, the biggest mark against this title is that it doesn’t even escalate or build on its own levels. The last several chapters aren’t only more or less identical to one another, but scrap the majority of the earlier puzzles in favor of endless chase sequences. Moreover, while the game is easy, with objectives all-too-clearly marked (there’s even a hint system for the very young), the fixed camera angles, coupled with the invisibility gimmick, can make basic maneuvers and platforming unreasonably difficult. Rain is barely functional and certainly not much fun: saying that the game is all wet would be an understatement.