Heavy Rain – A Breath of Fresh Air

heavy cry

Every so often, a game turns up with the intention of redefining the industry. It boldly states its claims to the public on a plinth of pretension, outlines its methods of said redefinition and is subsequently shot in the face, teabagged and pick-pocketed of its innovations. Sadly, for the most part, the majority of gamers would quite happily remain on a strict diet of bullet ballistics and limb dismemberment.

The latest game to stake this claim is Heavy Rain – here’s what its saying.

In Heavy Rain you are in control of four everyday people with no connections, thrown into extraordinary circumstances (stay with me). You control an architect (father of two), a rotund private detective, a FBI profiler with C.S.I credentials, and a female journalist. The bridge of these characters being supported by an elusive serial killer named the Origami Killer. Sounds fun, but where is this innovation you speak of? It’s developers Quantic Dream have stated that the innovation lies in its variations. You see, if or when one our your protagonists dies, the story continues, the narrative evolves and the climax is tweaked.

staircase

This game is all about the sequencing. What order you press the buttons, dictate the events on screen. Critics have alluded to the game being one drawn out quick time event, while others believe this could introduce the move towards instinctual free flowing narratives, based on the players own decisions, rather than the linear path with which the majority of games follow. Certainly, the Wii’s waggling dominance over the last four years coupled with Sony and Microsoft’s iterations would suggest this.

rain

The aim is to integrate the player into the characters. The way it has been presented thus far would suggest that they are on the right track. The end result, if executed correctly could be monumental to the industry. Emotional attachment in a video game. Let me repeat, emotional attachment in a video game (and don’t give me the horrible Final Fantasy counterpoint, those tears were on wasted youth, nothing more). If this is to be achieved then the player must never feel like they are not affecting the events on screen (like say, Final Fantasy, sorry to keep going on but they are not games, just lengthened bloody tech demo’s).

pudge

As Infinity Ward demonstrated recently with its ‘No Russian’ level in Modern Warfare 2, it is difficult, if not impossible to portray emotional, social themes in a video game effectively. I would argue the failure on their part was on the character impotence within that particular situation. Perhaps Quantic Dream can achieve the impossible.

I’m seeing this game being a huge critical success for its scope alone, but as for the commercial success, I shall remain sceptical. Heavy Rain states the understated by going back to basics. Its focus on quick-time events and simplistic controls may not appear progressive at first glance, but it falls in line with David Cage’s (QD, CEO) vision. Heavy Rain is trudging through new territory here. Whether or not it proves successful, it already stands apart – I still remember Shenmue!

Look out for it on the 26th February. Interested, have a look below.

Dré

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