I haven't finished Rain and, as things currently stand, I don't plan to finish it. However, I want to. I really want to. I really, really, really wish I could continue. But, I just can't.
As I explain my perspective, you'll likely find my main problem with Rain minuscule. In theory, it would be stupid to complain about. But, I find that the game is such a delight when said problem isn't around that I have no choice but to point it out.
The subtitles. They
are what ruin this game.
I can already tell you think I'm crazy. It's a sixth sense that I am very proud of.
To explain: I feel like I'm not being given the simple freedom to see what I see and perceive it as it's so obviously
being presented as. For all the game's lack of subtlety, it still feels the need to point out, step by step, exactly what's going on throughout most cutscenes or sections of gameplay.
Offering no real insight into they're accompanying situations, the subtitles usually read sort of like:
"The boy and the girl's eyes met."
"A monster was chasing her, so she ran off."
"The boy ran towards them."
"The boy needed to pass the monsters without being seen."
"He got away safely."
"There she was again."
"She didn't see him, so she ran off once more."
"He needed to find another way around."
"He knew he would be seen with the key in his hands."
"The boy was safe for now."
"The boy continued onward, through the town."
"He saw something in the distance."
"The ledge was too high to reach."
"There were these tiny, weird creatures just up ahead."
On and fucking on it goes. The few times I'm not one step ahead of them, the subtitles appear yet again and all sense of discovery is thrown out to a wet back alley. I'm being told what to do, what's happening, it almost feels as if there's nothing left for me to appreciate for myself. I don't feel like I'm playing alongside a story unfolding before me via on-screen text, I feel like I'm doing everything and the game's just stating what it is I'm doing in the most straightforward manner possible.
These subtitles serve a much more meaningful purpose as the game begins, sure. But, after the first several minutes, they're useless. Nothing more than really really annoying distractions. Not even interesting to read distractions, just straight-faced proclamations.
Imagine if all Journey did was catalog your adventure and tell you what you should be doing at that moment.
"The creature saw the mountain in the far distance. That was where it was heading."
"The creature spotted a friend!"
"They began to play and work together."
"An odd, scarf-like entity popped out of the sand. What was that?"
"The creature began to slide down the sandy slope."
It probably wouldn't suddenly make Journey a bad game, given it's incredibly high quality otherwise, but wasn't it real nice to not have any sort of UI? No narration? No subtitles? Nothing but you, the game, and this anonymous friend you made that you ended up playing alongside.
And Rain feels like it should've been designed similarly. So much so that it makes these subtitles all the more obnoxious. Like Journey, Rain is a very simple experience taking place in a world, to you, that is very unfamiliar with a person you befriend and grow very attached to. But, unlike Journey, any sort of discovery, small or big, is left up to the developers to explain. And then you're like "Yeah. I know.".
I may one day come back to it with a more open mind, knowing what to expect. But, right now, I think I'll replay Flow, Flower, and Journey. As I've been meaning to for so long. My soothing indie crave that Rain's release left with me shall be satisfied, dammit.
Maybe a little Proteus too.