There are plenty of interactive iOS apps offering "ambient" media experiences with soothing sounds and gentle visuals. Opertoon's "Strange Rain" might be easily mistaken for one of them at first glance, with its gorgeously dour imagery and sound design. But look closer, and you'll discover a subtly eerie storyline unfolding with each successive tap on the screen. Here's a preview:
If you're so inclined, you can use "Strange Rain" purely as an ambient meditation aid (or whatever people use these apps for): in Wordless or Whisper mode, falling raindrops will follow your fingers around the screen, falling directly "at" you as the beautiful, Retina Display-quality background image (created by Flickr user Benimoto) tilts its perspective like an augmented reality windowpane.
But enter "story" mode and you'll see what Opertoon means when they claim to design "stories you can play." With each tap on the glass, snippets of a mysterious character's inner monologue flit onscreen. Drag your fingertips across the rainy image, and even more stream-of-consciousness spatters out. Who is this person?
"Strange Rain"'s designers describe the character as "a man in the midst of a family crisis who has wandered into the rain to collect his thoughts. His world, too, has gone from familiar to strange, even as his beliefs are following the opposite course. Your interaction helps determine when and how he decides to come in from the rain." They've also added a gamelike aspect to the story which lets you track your progress through the character's dark night of the soul, and share or compare your version with your friends'.
A little heavy on the "emo"? Perhaps. But kudos to Opertoons for attempting to add an intriguing narrative element to an app format that -- although well-intentioned -- usually gets old after about 45 seconds.