Is it a game or is it an interactive movie? People are going to be puzzled by Heavy Rain when it releases, or at least those unfamiliar with Quantic Dream’s last game Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy). This is no third person shooter, nor is it some free roaming RPG involving exploration and looting, it’s more about telling a story by putting you into the shoes of people and letting you unravel it at your pace.
The preview build that Sony sent us contains the first full chapter and the start of the second. During this selection of the game you played as four separate people, they are linked by one thing, the tagline of the game a.k.a The Origami Killer. You perform tasks of normality such as taking a shower, drinking some juice and playing with the kids, then there are some action oriented fight sequences and investigation portions. Everything mentioned previously is performed by using the prompts that appear on your screen, like a huge quick time event, except that you often don’t need to push a button unless you want to. At E3 we talked to the writer (and director David Cage) and were told that decisions can drastically change the way the game unfolds.
Before playing the preview I was sceptical at best, if memory serves, I think I even went on the record post E3 saying that Heavy Rain was going to be a flop, I am always happy to admit I am wrong if a great game is the reason. While I am not willing to rescind my comment in its entirety, I am very hopeful that I was completely wrong. The atmosphere created by the little details was something unexpected, lots of tension when needed, a real sense of melancholy at other points, and loads of intrigue.
Some things that I would hope get some attention prior to the games release include the performances, I understand that the developer is French based, but I would have liked to see more consistency in the accents of the characters. The delivery is also dry in parts, real world dry in fact, it makes you realise how dull and unanimated some people are. There is a slight feeling that the game is unfolding in a staccato rhythm, starting and stopping abruptly, depending on your choices, but perhaps caused only by my delays in choosing an action.
One of the characters you play is an FBI agent investigating the Origami murders, he utilises an enhanced reality system that uses a glove and glasses that instantly feed back information like DNA and police/govt records. There appears to be some trade off for having such an advanced tool, but that I am sure will be explained in more detail further into the game. Aside from the cool factor that this gives that FBI agent, it also lets things move forward at the pace that you are able to track down clues. The private eye, and the father of two are the other characters you play as during the first chapter, I have a vague idea of what might happen but my guess is that I will be surprised at either how it eventuates or that I am completely wrong. Something worth playing the full game to find out.
If this isn’t on your radar yet, and you like a more engrossing, immersive experience, then the pace and detail in Heavy Rain might captivate you in a way nothing else has. It’s looking far more promising than I ever thought it could. Nice work Quantic Dream, and here’s to a speedy release.