To me, Sony's upcoming rainy day adventure, Rain, feels like a spiritual successor to the PlayStation 2 classic Ico -- the visuals, the atmosphere, playing the part of a child lost in a (mostly) empty world much larger than himself… So much so, that I almost expect Fumito Ueda's name to show up in the end credits. From what's been revealed, Rain looks beautiful and almost tranquil in its drizzling atmosphere. But according to its developers, it didn't start out that way.
"We're often asked 'did you come up with the story first?' but that's not the case at all." Director Yuki Ikeda recalled in an interview with Weekly Famitsu. According to Ikeda, the development team wanted to create a download title to "challenge the world." The concept they settled on was to break the mould of having players control something they could see by having them control something they couldn't see.
While the concept had impact, it didn't hold up on its own as a game, so the developers added an element that would make the character you controlled visible only under certain circumstances. This element ended up being rain. "We had the game structure -- the 'play' element -- and from there we created the story, setting, maps, and so forth to enhance the enjoyment of the game." art director Seiichi Terashima explained.
Initially the game was developed more like a stealth action game, but adding too many action elements amped up the difficulty too much. "It would have restricted [the game's] audience." Ikeda explained. "So we lowered the difficulty, and added more adventure game elements like puzzles and tricks."
The invisible protagonist element also hindered the stealth action concept. Simply by being invisible, the idea of hiding in shadows to evade enemies falls apart as well as making hair-trigger actions where seeing your character is vital, like jumping, impossibly difficult to execute.
As for the game's plot, the developers noted that the enemies in the game were more than simple antagonists, but held a secret that is integral to the story. Ikeda also revealed that the end of the game would not be a "downer." Main planner Tomoharu Fujii added that players "will be able put down the game controller with a sense of satisfaction." Good. I wasn't looking forward to throwing my DualShock 3 across the room at the end of a game (again)...
Rain is scheduled for release later this year for download only.