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Is Rain set to continue PSN's perfect storm?

The Tokyo Jungle developer talks us through its moody PS3 adventure

Sony's Rain is a game you've probably forgotten, and yet if it manages to live up to the firm's recent digital output it will surely be one of 2013's most memorable.

Briefly announced at Gamescom 2012 and then buried underneath a quarry of more glitzy announcements, Rain is the latest from Japanese team PlayStation C.A.M.P.

As the creator of two of PSN's most unique titles Tokyo Jungle and Echochrome, the single-player action adventure already carries the weight of expectation. Factor in the exceptional quality of last year's BAFTA-winning digital line-up, and you might not be surprised if the developer may even be feeling a little pressured to live up to PSN's newfound reputation.

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"We feel very excited because it shows there's a market out there for people who download digital games," the game's associate producer, Ken Suzuta, said of the success of PSN's award winning Journey and Unfinished Swan.

"Obviously we want to make Rain as big as those titles. We do have that pressure but it motivates us to deliver a good game."

Rain's Japanese director, Yuki Ikeda, says part of the appeal of developing for PlayStation's online platform is the ability to take creative risks not possible under the mammoth budgets of boxed release games.

With Toyko Jungle, the studio created a game in which players fought to survive in a futuristic Tokyo as a Pomeranian dog hunted by crocodiles. The physics puzzler Echochrome involved a mannequin traversing a rotatable world. And now Rain has you exploring a perpetually dark city as an invisible boy.

Ikeda explains: "The concept of Rain is 'uncertainty'. In this game the main character, a boy, gets lost one night. He doesn't just get lost - he also finds himself turned invisible. He strides into an unusual world... one completely opposite of what he's familiar with.

"When you got lost as a child you felt alone, anxious and scared. But at the same time you felt something else... the excitement and curiosity of an unfamiliar place. Rain is trying to evoke the exact same feelings; the fear and curiosity of an unfamiliar world."

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Playing as the boy, Rain's key mechanic has the invisible protagonist appearing as a silhouette when traversing through the stormy weather, but disappearing when under cover.

The game's director describes this as a simple system allowing for stealth style gameplay. Rain's protagonist cannot attack, so when faced by the threat of invisible monsters or environmental puzzles, the player must use other means to overcome their challenges.

In one scene we're shown, our Hollow Man hero must escape pursuing monsters by dashing to the nearest cover, thus causing his silhouette to vanish, and transparent critters to wonder off confused.

More strategic hide-and-seek gameplay is also hinted, with sections involving patrolling enemies and spaced out patches of cover requiring players to dash between safe zones at exactly the right moment, or even use deep puddles to distract foes with a loud splash.

With every step a deeper layer of story is revealed via on-screen text, and the appearance of another invisible person - a girl - hints that narrative will be key in the final game.

Rain's concept certainly looks interesting, but in our limited demo it was difficult to evaluate just how ambitious or inventive the PlayStation C.A.M.P. team is aiming to be. The game will carry no online functionality and its developer was unwilling to specify exactly how big it will be.

Despite the newfound expectation associated with first-party PSN releases - and let's not forget a new, non-backwards compatible console is lurking in the near future - Rain's director said he believes the PS3 market in 2013 is "the best time" to release his game.

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He also refused to rule out Rain making it on to other PlayStation formats, telling CVG "we never say never to anything" and "If there's a demand we would like to consider releasing it on other platforms."

So will Sony's latest digital contender joins its predecessors in the trophy cabinet? Much will come down to the creativity of its core mechanic, but from we've seen so far we're confident that, at the very least, you won't forget Rain again.

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