The short burst of laughter that resulted from having to seek shelter from the deluge that emptied out of the sky that Wednesday almost felt wrong to utter. It was not so much we found a moment of joy in an otherwise terrible day; it was more the sad kind of sentiment, and an acknowledged bewilderment at how the rain fell with a particular ferocity. It was easy to notice how ominous the sky was, and how much more filthy, quiet and flooded those streets of Chinatown became that day.
It was difficult to think about the sadness and confusion in the tears that my friend shed at her immeasurable loss.
In that moment, turning my attention to the rain was a welcome distraction.
Back then, I had nothing by which to truly understand what she felt. I never would, given that the nature of the relationship with her loved one was all hers. But I could do what was needed of me as a friend and be there to support.
For her, it was her first major loss by death. I would have mine a couple of years later.
It was mostly sunny when my day came to grieve. A part of my childhood was lost. Rain had often acted as a security blanket and there was nothing there for me to take solace in. Even as a child, the rain fascinated me. I found comfort in storms and flashes of lightning which lead me into daydreaming and escapist fantasies.
Spending time playing Rain brought all of those feelings and memories to the surface. The story of the two children, with rain acting as a source in habouring their illness, and as a bind from which they wanted to be freed; reminded me of that difference in the comfort I found in the rain so many years ago and continue to do so. It reminded me of how the sunshine robbed me of that cloak.
In many ways, Rain presented to me a differing view of childhood. I understood that desperation in the presentation and the way in which the rain was used as an emotional tool, even if my experience and view was not quite the same. It made me reflect on determining what is 'safety'. It allowed me to think on what the narrative was trying to convey through the child's perspective, and an active imagination that materialized sickness, sadness and loneliness. To me, the game spoke to a fever-induced nightmare and how rain - both a comforting and fearsome force - became centrally focused on as the latter as something dangerous.
Rain's narrative read like a storybook and its presentation was beautiful. The style and visuals here are wonderful, and gritty all while giving the sense of moving with a fluidity as water does. It's a story that begins splashed in light, airy, and bright tones of pinks, greens and blues. It's world is soon darkened by what looks like a cold rain. Falling endlessly, the rain creates a beautiful yet melancholy existence where fears are realized. It's there in that space that fevers often craft the most terrifying nightmares.
What terrifies a child? What manifests during sickness?
For our young heroes in Rain, it's fantastic beasts that are real to history but live in museums and in the pages of educational texts: extinct but not out of the realm of possibilities. Dinosaurs stalk. Boogeymen chase. The designs are all simple in the skeletal frames of hostile guard dogs, or those gargantuan fossils remains of prehistoric creatures that amble. Huge parasites crawl in dirty places - no doubt internalized by the constant reminders that those places are off-limits for play because they are breeding grounds for bacteria to thrive.
Here, it's the often common fears that haunt and fill little imaginations. The fears are intensified by something even more closely familiar: the rain itself and its role in the game.
This is something that some of us may have experienced. That feeling of trying to wake from sickness, or a nightmare can feel a struggle. Sometimes, there's that feeling of paralysis and that weight pressing on your chest. During those times, there feels a hopelessness. Within rain's sound, it's easy to get consumed and feel lost as a child. It's the same overwhelming feeling of the unknown that darkness may bring. Rain and darkness are familiar yet can feel so eerie in their sheer power and persistence. They can transform a familiar landscape into something foreign and foreboding. That's what Rain did here: it gave the sense of feeling trapped and helpless within the sound and sights of an endless downpour. The rain's constant presence with a long night as its backdrop, facilitated the continuation of a feverish dream from which a child struggled to wake from.
Rain may not have had the most engaging or original of narratives. It felt slightly marred by its ending at having too much be said, when nothing was needed to be voiced at all. What it did do was beautifully capture that particular essence of what rain can be - the somber, powerful, and daunting element to be respected - and a child's emotional response to it. It also allowed for a way in which to interact and connect a player to past memories and experiences as it did here as I played.
I was reminded of that day in the sun when I had to say my own goodbye to a loved one. That day felt the longest. When the wind kicked up, I was hopeful. I wanted to have that security in the steady sound of falling water. I wanted to watch the rain turn the earth into something else. A passing rain cloud only served as a reminder that I was having my own 'feverish dream' that was unfortunately, all too real. It was a fleeting moment of comfort which I barely remembered. What I wanted was to be lost in a deluge that would never arrive.
Unless otherwise noted, image sources: us.playstation.com and uk.playstation.com.