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Rain: The PS3 invisible-boy adventure that was almost a terrible stealth-action game

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Rain is the game that stars little more than an invisible boy, the invisible girl he's following, and a creepy, seemingly abandoned city. But the PS3 title didn't begin as an adventure game at all, director Yuki Iketa told Famitsu Magazine.

"First," Iketa explained, "we concentrated on the 'hide and seek' aspect of the game and created a more action-heavy game, referencing a lot of widely-known stealth action games. However, that made the game really hard. You couldn't have a wide range of people enjoy it. So we tried to lower the difficulty, and as we did, we strengthened the adventure aspects, the searching and the things you run into. So instead of this feeling of constraint as you worked your way through the maps stealthily, you feel a lot more free instead. So the design allows the player more of a rise and fall in the emotions they feel."

"Fine-tuning the difficulty was a pain," added chief designer Tomoharu Fujii. We studied stealth action at the start of the project and tried to pick up aspects of that, but once we got started, we found there was a lot that wouldn't make sense in that genre if you can't see your character. Hiding in the shadows is a standard move in any stealth game, but what's the point of that if you're invisible anyway? If you have to jump someplace, you can't see where you'll land. So obviously that was going to be far too difficult. I think we struck a good balance in the end in terms of satisfying all kinds of gamers, and I'm relieved about that. I really hope players go all the way to the end here."

Rain, Iketa said, is nearing the end of development in time for its fall release in Japan. "We've been in 'get it done' mode for a while," he said, "and we're putting the final touches on it right now. It's something where not just the gameplay and visuals, but the music is turning out really good, too. I think it's a game you can enjoy just by wandering around town aimlessly. Keep an open mind as you play, and I think it'll click with you."

"Our aim here was to make a downloadable PlayStation 3 title that we could challenge the world with," Iketa continued. "We thought about what would attract attention, and we figured it'd be easiest to get a message across if we stimulated some of the senses that all of us possess. As we talked about this, the focus shifted from a standard game where you're controlling what you can see to something where you control what you can't see. That's easy to understand, and it has impact, but you can't make an entire game out of something you thought up in five seconds. So we added the condition that you could see what's going on as the rain hits your character, and that became the core concept."

The studio were influenced in part by the PS3 exclusive Journey during the making of this game. "That does provide a guide for us," admitted art director Seiichi Terashima. "Journey's a game you can enjoy regardless of language. Instead of focusing on the story, instead you're enjoying the feeling of forward progress at any given moment. Basically it's nothing more complex than going from the start to the goal, but the atmosphere of the stages is done so well that the player is creating the story himself. That's why it's such a worldwide success, and that influenced us."