PlayStation Network-exclusive Rain, a stealth action adventure that does not feature any attacks, is designed to make players feel uncertain, its creator told Eurogamer today at the Game Developers Conference.
Sony announced the curious title during German show Gamescom in August last year, but has remained silent on it since.
At GDC today Sony pulled the curtain back ever so slightly on the Japan Studio-produced single-player only title, due out at some point this year, and released a video showing the first few minutes of the game.
In Rain you play a boy who gets lost at night. He then discovers he has turned invisible and has strayed into an unusual world where no-one else exists, save a girl who he follows throughout the adventure.
The boy must follow the girl while avoiding strange, dog-like monsters. Gameplay revolves around stealth with puzzle elements. The boy can be seen only in the rain. Inside buildings and under shelter he is invisible; wet footsteps show the boy's place in the world, with bumping into objects another visual aid.
There are no attacks in Rain, so the boy must avoid the monsters at all cost, walking in the rain, and thus revealing himself, only when they're not nearby. Some areas force the player to step out into the rain to distract monsters, which can be taunted with objects. You'll have to master switching between invisible and visible by moving throughout different parts of the environment to keep the monsters at bay.
It's all set to a melancholy soundtract that adjusts to the situation the boy finds himself in. He is guided by lines of text that are displayed on the environment, an unnamed fantasy city crafted to tap into player's nostalgia for their home towns. The text advises the player, describes what's happening and tells the story.
Director Yuki Ikeda, who works at Japanese developer Acquire, told Eurogamer Rain is an experimental title that aims to rekindle memories of when you were lost as a child.
"The concept of Rain is uncertainty," Ikeda said. "Please remember how you felt when you got lost when you were a child. You were all alone and anxious and scared to tears. But at the same time you felt something else. It's the excitement and curiosity of the unfamiliar that sees you explore the streets.
"Rain is trying to evoke the exact same feelings of fear and curiosity of exploring an unfamiliar world."
Dispelling any confusion, Ikeda said Rain is not a horror game. Instead, it's "artistic". There's a great sense of mystery, too, which is deliberate. Players will discover what the monsters are, who the girl is and why the main character turned invisible in the first place as the story unfolds.
Rain is the result of an audition held within PlayStation Camp, a division of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan that calls on those who have worked in industries other than games to propose unique ideas. Past Camp titles include Tokyo Jungle and Echochrome.
Director Ikeda, who won one of these contests, first conceived of an action adventure with an invisible character, which he believed hasn't been done before. The rain and the mysterious city environment followed, and Acquire was drafted in to help with development.