Some of the more jaded iPhone application critics (of which at times I claim to be one of these) complain that there are no new, truly creative interactive experiences on the iPhone anymore. With literally hundreds of thousands of applications to choose from in the App Store, hasn't every pixel pushing design already been manifested? Strange Rain answers those critics with a resounding 'No' thanks to its torrent of creativity and captivating, imaginative gameplay.
The concept behind Strange Rain is to observe failing rain drops and redirect their paths by touching and tilting the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad back and forth or left and right. Depending on the rain direction and the speed of interaction with the water drop paths being coaxed by a dragged finger or device orientation, the stranger and more psychedelic the game becomes. This concoction of motion, music and sound, tactile interaction and kaleidoscope graphics keep the game stimulating as players maneuver through the downpour.
The game features three different modes of game play: wordless, whispers and story. Wordless behaves like an interactive screensaver of sorts, allowing players to simply enjoy the imagery and unique interactive experience that Strange Rain has to offer. Whispers adds words to the screen as drops are touched by the player; often, these words are related to the on-screen action and mood. The most entertaining is the story mode, where players learn about a man in crisis, whose thoughts are telepathically displayed with the on-screen interactions. Players can decide the outcome by choosing how to respond to these ethereal sentences, and ultimately "come in from the rain." The story called "Convertible", along with everything else in the game, was written by interactive media artist Erik Loyer, and while the narrative outcome of Strange Rain's story mode is difficult to explain, it's the journey that counts. It would be nice to see future versions incorporate an ongoing set of narratives that could be pulled from the Internet like RSS feeds. Perhaps creative players could eventually submit their own stories for even more variety and greater replay value.
And it goes without saying that the graphics and sound are convincing and polished, giving the experience the kind of engrossing attention that good books can captivate readers with. While the pictures accompanying this review help give an indication of what to expect, this video does a better job of showing the game in action and how the audiovisuals come together to make this one of the most interesting interactive works of art available for the iOS platform today.
Product: Strange Rain
Rating: 4/5 stars