"F" That Game - Heavy Rain

 Not many games compel me enough to make me spend an hour trying to piece together what had happened and then to try and figure out where things are going, but last Tuesday, when I first put a few hours into Heavy Rain, I did just that. It cost me about an hour of my sleep time that night, but was so worth it. I couldn’t wait to jump back in.

That’s where Heavy Rain grabs you by the balls. It’s story telling. Not so much in what is told, but how it’s told. The plot of this game might not be airtight, but Quantic Dreams has made a remarkably compelling game. One that got me frazzled for all the right reasons.

I went with my gut instinct on most every choice that the game presented. However, characters can pressure you to do something. Causing your finger to, literally, slip. Exactly like it might have in real life. “R1” can be a hair trigger sometimes. I spent the rest of that evening feeling remorseful for what I had done. Going so far as wishing I had taken that one last breath and assessed the situation.

There were a few times where choices were hard to read because the text was vibrating fast, and the symbols were small. The “all-white” text helped to keep it from being intrusive, but I had a damnable time telling “square” from “x” from “triangle.”  Though, I only noticed this on non-crucial scenes. It seems Quantic wanted to make sure that when things really mattered it was clearly presented before you.
 
Finally, a QTE game that is actually fun. I noticed when I played the demo, that I rocked the QTE sequences. I didn’t want my protagonists coming off as Superman, so I picked the hardest difficulty. I’m not sure what easy is like, other than the “slow” stick commands not being there. I assume there’s a bit more time to hit the buttons. I felt comfortable with the difficulty I chose. I missed a few, I hit a bunch and that gave it an organic feeling.

In most of these sequences, everything was at a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants pace. Speeding down a highway.  Chasing after a suspect. Forcing me to put my seat back in the full upright position and inch ever so closely to the edge of my seat. When all was said and done, I was shaking the adrenaline out of my system before carrying onward.

Same with the slower-yet-nail-biting sequences. You know those scenes in movies where you actually hold your breath, because you think that by breathing you will upset the delicate balance of everything and cause something bad to happen to the hero. This game is chock full of those white knuckled moments. Hell, I had shake out even more adrenaline after one of these scenes. On a side note, your nose makes a decent extra finger if you get finger-tied on the hold-the-buttons-down sequences.

If only the walking around worked as well as everything else in this game. I haven’t played movement controls this clunky since.. well.. ever! I wish this game moved, at the very least, like the first Resident Evil. I’ve had over a decade to get used to those controls. But I give this game a bye, because everything else works so very well, plus you know that you’re never going to have to out manoeuvre anyone. If things get that crazy, you’ll be tapping buttons. I could see potential for Arc controls. You point your reticule at the screen and hold R2 to make the character walk to where your cursor is. Kind of like the mouse controls of Diablo. That would probably make movement about half as clunky.

When you’re in the thick of it, though, you forget all about the walking. Instead you’re faced with life and death choices. Do you risk being tempted by the serpent for one more glimpse of glory? Do you see how far you can push the line? As you gain confidence, you can get pretty ballsy in what you choose. I’m came rolling into the finale with certain air of confidence. Holy shit did the game give me a wake up call. Since the story can go so many ways there isn’t much I can spoil here, other than the shit hit the fan. Any character can die at any moment, including the climax. In fact, to rub salt in the wounds, there is trophy for having that happen to you. The fact that it is possible to get so far only to fall flat on your face is a major testament to what this game represents. After completing this game so soon after Mass Effect 2, I really hope games continue down this path of storytelling, where I’m an active roll, and not a passive viewer.

Heavy Rain can be categorized with cult classic films. The kind usually directed by David Fincher. Hell, this game kinda gave me a “Se7en” vibe. The nice thing about this game though, is that you can experience different things each time you play it. Maybe there’s a different object in the box this time around. Maybe the box doesn’t even show up. That’s why Heavy Rain is going to be experienced over and over again.

Especially in my case, because I came so close… So close…

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