So I’ve recently been taking a look at a weird little adventure/interactive story/Quick-Time-Event thingy entitled Heavy Rain for Sony’s unfeeling black monstrosity, the PlayStation 3. From what I’ve heard, it’s promising to breathe new life into videogames by creating an interactive story that changes as the player handles certain situations. With even just a short glance at Autumn Drizzle’s—sorry, Heavy Rain’s review scores, it’s being hailed as the dawn of a new age in storytelling, and if it were your friend, it would be the cool aloof guy whose standards are extremely higher than yours, but he still comes to your birthday parties because he loves an opportunity to flaunt his wealth and supermodel girlfriend in your face.
So, I decided to give the demo a bit of a run through and see what all of the fuss was about, and I was…surprised.
The demo starts you off as a man named Shelby, who is a retired cop turned private investigator. That is the most original character back story ever and I don’t think that anyone has quite done anything like it. Ever. He is meeting with a prostitute whose son was killed by someone called the Origami Killer, which I assume is some guy whom kills people with paper cranes with deadly sharp corners. Hey, say what you want about that, but paper-cuts are fucking dangerous. I once heard about a guy whom went to scratch his neck while holding an envelope, and you know what happened? It was brutal. He got nicked in the throat and had to put a Hello Kitty bandage over it for a few minutes till it stopped bleeding.
One thing I can say about Heavy Rain is that it sure knows how to make the player feel fucking retarded. In the tutorial level you quite literally have to direct the old detective through a treacherous alleyway, dealing with horrible perils such as walking in a straight line, changing the camera angle, shuffling past an obstructing dumpster, and making sure your asthma doesn’t kill you. Seriously, you press X to use your inhaler. I half expected there to be other actions along the lines of “press circle to fondle old man coin purse,” or “press triangle to complain about young kids today,” or “press square to ruin adult diaper.”
Hide the evidence! Use the X button to put the body in the dumpster!
So, after knocking on all of the doors, I decided to talk to the prostitute, who apparently charges fifty bucks for a night with her. Fifty bucks! Jesus guys, just buy a freaking videogame or an Internet connection! It’s not like porn is THAT hard to come by.
I will say in its defense that the interactions are rather interesting, in that the NPCs react realistically to your character’s actions; when I was asking the prostitute lots of questions about when her son was killed, she just started to cry. And based on the different things I did, that scenario changed. Also to the game’s credit, the “fights” do feel hectic and realistic and don’t feel like you’re just spamming the attack button to kill everything in front of you like a kung-fu fighting Pac-Man.
Ugh, I can’t remember which button it was that let me do that dragon summoning technique I learned in that Shaolin Monastery!
So, overall, should you buy Heavy Rain? Honestly, I’m not too sure myself. I’m usually not keen on trusting the people’s opinion, because there is a weird psychic energy that is generated when a group of humans get together that makes them all shoes-on-hands retarded, but it’s the best way to show my current feelings on this. On the one hand, you have the indie artsy pussies going, “Oh snap, there’s a game where you don’t crawl up Satan’s ass to save the princess for the fifteenth time and that actually explores meaningful concepts that require a brain to understand. Buy this game!” On the other hand, the hyperactive dumbass Call of Duty players are going, “Oh great, a game that pretends to be a game but is actually a movie with Quick Time Events; who the hell thinks this is a revolutionary thing for gaming?”
I admit, I’m a bright-eyed “games are art” hippy, and so far the game does look interesting, but I’m left to wonder what the point of it is. Sure, it has a good story, and some of the Quick Time Events are well-implemented and make it engaging, but other than that you’re just watching a movie. And why would anybody want that? Games are not movies, no matter which way you slice it; a truly great game should be able to meld an awesome story together with intriguing gameplay. I just hope that the finished product includes more adventure game elements.
I’ll probably end up renting it, but as much as I like gaming, I like eating food more, so I may check it out at a later time. Probably in the future, after I’ve just finished my fourth best-selling novel and am filling my bathtub with movie contracts. Then again, I might stop living in my blind optimistic fantasy, but screw that! I’ll be wallpapering my walls with Washingtons by then!