Heavy Rain

A video game for film lovers, Heavy Rain is a unique detective and revenge thriller that will keep you entertained for 12-15 hours the first time (I'm almost finished with my second go-round).

Reasons to like this game:   Death is death.  In most other games when your character "dies" he returns at a previous save-point or re-spawning location (which my paramour calls 'the Shoots and Ladders element', bless her heart)—not in Heavy Rain.  If one of the four characters you control dies, you're 25% closer to game-over.  It is possible to identify the serial killer and win the game with only one remaining character alive and mobile.  

No cheats or work-arounds.  The most common work around in other games is to save your game (especially before a conflict) and when you die you re-load and resume where you saved—not in Heavy Rain.  Saving your game is not an option.  When you make a mistake the game immediately autosaves...so that's where it will return if you try to start over. 

No jumping through the movie scenes.  In many games the "story" may feel like it is slowing your game play so you skip the story and get on with the mission—not in Heavy Rain.  You are watching a movie.  The plot unfolds differently depending on what actions (or inactions) you choose with each of your characters, but you can't skip the (sometimes lengthy) film and dialogue.

Emotional investment in the characters.  With the use of theatrics (music score, camera movement, mise-en-scène, script, and stereotypical protagonist/antagonist plotting, etc.) you begin to care about your game characters like you would a film character.  Your emotional desire to "protect" or "save" your character(s) influences your game decisons.

A desire to re-play more than once.    The outcome of the entire game will be different if you defend yourself completely, drive the car expertly, and don't trip at that crucial moment.  But, as the story unfolds from four points-of-view you'll choose what to say, you'll accomplish some "mini-missions," and you'll make mistakes.  Consequently, you'll want to go back and make a different decision or master the unique controls one more time.

All Trophies are unknown.  Trophies provide a record of additional accomplishments for those who want more goals than just the completion of the game.  In many games you can scroll through the list of trophies to determine some of the important "mini-missions".  In Heavy Rain all trophies are locked and unknown until you earn them. 

Reasons to dislike this game:  Linear-gameplay.  This isn't a sandbox-game and, therefore, you can't roam and explore beyond the confines of the scene-area, which enforces the "film feel" of the game.

Vehicle driving.  Although your characters drive different vehicles, you don't have much—if any—driver control; again, enforcing the "film feel".

Character similarity.   Two of your characters look very similar...so much so, that—until one grows a beard—you confuse them.  The first time I played the game, I thought this was intentional and that I'd eventually learn they were related (brothers or, maybe, a Fight Club-thing).  Nope.  Just poor casting by the director.
 
No Jumping through the movie scenes.  Yea, this is/was a plus...but it's only positive the first time or two through.  On the fifth viewing, now you've memorized what they're going to say for the next five minutes, and you may abandon the cut-scene heavy game.

I have heard, and read, strong criticism about the unique character controls.  I think it's important to understand that the uniqueness of the controls is crucial to enjoying the game.  If the controls were simple or similar to other games the challenge of moving your characters in a stress situation would be non-existent.  As your character gets excited, it translates to his thoughts and to the controller, then you make mistaken statements or take clumsy movements which adds to your fear for your characters safety...and that empathy drives your desire for a win-finish.  It wouldn't be a thrill if you could rely upon muscle memory to control your characters, so...floating a "button/movement" on the screen when specific actions are needed lends a spontaneous immediacy that could not be attained in any other manner. 

On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. — Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)

2 comments:

SafeTinspector said...

I could work around that autosave function by playing the game in a virtual machine or on a VSS enabled partition and rolling back whenever necessary.
But with un-skippable cinemas, I think I'd get bored after awhile.

I'm not much of a cineaste, so I'm not sure what I'll get from it. But it does look intrigueing!

veach st. glines said...

I'm unfamiliar with VSS, unless it's just an acronym for Veach's Sure Stupid, then, I know about it.