It's so nice to see Sony Studios Japan back in action a bit for the last year or so. It started with a quirky fun little title - Tokyo Japan - and has continued this E3 with the fantastic looking Puppeteer and Rain titles. Rain is made by Acquire and SCEJ and is looking like another fantastic little PSN gem.
Rain's story is introduced through some beautiful water color paintings that tell the story of a boy excited to go to a circus. Unfortunately on the day of the circus it begins to rain and it looks like he's in for a day of boredom. As he gazes out into the rain he notices the outline of a young girl and their eyes meet before she is chased off by the outline of a creature. The boy quickly dashes after the two and finds that he too is now invisible. Now he must not only catch up with the girl, but discover how he has become translucent and how he might get back to normal.
One thing I love about Rain is how the storyline is told through text that simply appears along with the gameplay. You'll walk along and on the wall you'll see the narration. I believe I saw this first in a Splinter Cell game and I think it's a brilliant way to keep the storyline from getting in the way of the gameplay. Contextual actions like “examine” are also presented in a similar way.
The rules of the game are simple: progress towards the girl without getting caught by monsters. So even though you can't see yourself when you get out of the rain, sometimes that's for the best as the monsters won't be able to see you either. Trying to control something that you can see the footprints of is a bit tough and I knocked over quite a few chairs and other random outdoor furniture when invisible. Thankfully the noise from knocking things over doesn't seem to attract the monsters, but stepping in puddles is introduced as a loud enough noise to do so. So if the monsters see you or if you step in a puddle and they hear you they'll come sprinting over and your only hope is to find the nearest shelter to become invisible again.
Of course, seeking shelter isn't all that good either since the monsters become invisible as well, making them harder to keep track of. Sometimes you'll even want to attract the monsters to have them destroy something for you. If they smash into wooden scaffolding the monster and the scaffolding will be destroyed and this tactic is necessary to get past some obstacles.
That's basically everything I learned from the demo. After introducing all of those concepts and several scenes of making my way around monsters I was catching up to the girl but didn't quite make it. According to trailers I've seen, like the one below, apparently the two will work in tandem later on, but I don't know how this will affect the gameplay.
Overall, I love the presentation and feel of this game. Not being able to see yourself and monsters when out of the rain makes for a nice twist on the stealth gameplay that was enjoyable for the entire length of the demo. More will probably have to be introduced to make for a fun and complete game but I'm fairly confident after what I played that the final product will be worthy of my anticipation. Look for Rain when it launches on PSN later this year.