Hopefully you found the time last week to take a look at the haunting new trailer for Rain – the new adventure game from Japan Studio heading to PlayStation 3 later this year. It’s shaping up to be one of the most intriguing PSN titles of the year, channeling the same sense of freewheeling creativity that made Journey, The Unfinished Swan and Tokyo Jungle such stand-out experiences.
The setup is simple – you play as a lone boy who finds himself alone in a mysterious rain-soaked city. The twist? He’s completely invisible, except for the outline of the precipitation running off his body. You’ll guide him through this strange world as he goes in pursuit of a girl who’s seemingly suffering the exact same predicament, while also trying to evade malevolent hostile forces.
I sat down with the game’s producer Noriko Umemura when she was in London last week and dug a little deeper into this fascinating title.
PlayStation.Blog: Rain has one of the more unusual set-ups in recent memory. Where did the idea come from?
Noriko Umemura: When we gathered together, we had one thing in common – we wanted to surprise to our PS3 customers with a new action adventure game. We came up with the idea of having an invisible character – that’s where we started and from that point design and story just came out very naturally.
PSB: I imagine having an invisible character threw up all sorts of challenges, both in terms of art and game design…
NU: Yes! We didn’t want to impose stress on the player because the character was invisible. We wanted to give them challenges and new experiences, so we had to make sure that even when the character is completely invisible there should be hints to tell the player where he is. The player should be able to guess. We crafted the game design very carefully.
PSB: From what we’ve played so far, it seems like a very sad, melancholy game. Is that a fair assessment?
NU: Yes, we’re trying to evoke the feelings of melancholy and nostalgia throughout the game. Everyone at one point when they were a child got lost outside their neighborhood, and were scared, and it was raining, and they were all alone. Yet at the same time as wanting to get home, you also have this curiosity to see a little bit further and see what’s beyond the area you’re in. That’s the feeling we’re trying to evoke.
PSB: Gamers in Northern Europe have plenty of rain to contend with in real life. Can you promise the game won’t be too depressing? Is there any prospect of a little sunshine?
NU: [Laughs] Indeed! As the story advances the boy explores many different places with different atmospheres, so please look forward to how the story goes. Will the boy and the girl meet? Will they help each other? Will they go separate ways? Please look forward to finding out.
PSB: The game has a very beautiful, distinctive score. How did you approach the soundtrack?
NU: From the very beginning we knew the world we were creating was a mysterious place with constant rain, so we needed rain sounds throughout the game. We looked for music that would go very well with the sound of rain and enhance the atmosphere.
You will hear classical music throughout the game but not just the pieces you hear at the beginning. As the game changes and the atmosphere evolves, the music will also change to enhance that. You heard Debussy in the opening scene, but there will be original music too. As for the name of the composer, we will announce that later this year.
PSB: For a game developed in Japan, it has a very European feel. Was that a deliberate decision?
NU: Yes. We took references from many places around Europe and mixed them together. Also, because we are a Japanese studio, you will also see some Japanese elements as well. We wanted to mix everything and create this one world where anyone can find some sort of connection or similarity to their neighborhood – and yet it’s totally different at the same time.
PSB: What are your thoughts on how long a game like Rain should be?
NU: Right now we are adjusting the length of the game. We don’t want to make it too long or too short. But please consider it a full-sized game. It’s not something you can finish in two or three hours.
PSB: The game is a PlayStation C.A.M.P project – the same group that released Tokyo Jungle last year. Can you explain exactly what C.A.M.P is?
NU: PlayStation C.A.M.P is a section of Japan Studio. We recruit people from many different backgrounds. They come up with all sorts of ideas and then pitch them to us. Some of them are not even from a games background, so their ideas are often very flexible. Working with them has been very exciting – their way of thinking is sometimes totally different and quite new. We’re trying to deliver these new experiences with these new talents.