As the videogame industry grows all kinds of new and innovative ideas flourish into life providing us with unforgettable experiences that leave impressions long after the game is over. Movies have been doing the same for over a century and have matured to the point where an interesting idea can be translated into an amazing experience, but can these two forms of media merge successfully to give the user something they can related to yet be utterly engrossing?
Back in 2005 Quantic Dreams released Fahrenheit, a paranormal thriller that introduced gamers to a new form of interactive storytelling with its imaginative ideas it showed that there was a market for a game that focused on the cinematic side of storytelling.
Jump to today and what has seemed like a millennia in development Quantic Dreamís Heavy Rain is here but will it be able to build upon the foundations Fahrenheit lay or will it simply be a 7 hour cut scene? Read on to find out.
For a cinematic adventure game like Heavy Rain story is key, the background to the game centres around a serial killer who has been terrorising a city, on each of the victims an origami figure is left, the killer is nicknamed ĎThe Origami Killer.í Now a boy has just gone missing and with less than a week to find him before he is the next victim you take the role of four characters as they uncover the truth behind these killings and track down the real killer before itís too late.
The story is presented much like a movie for the most part and is played in chronological order from start to finish with a few flashbacks here and there. Each of the four main characters has their own separate story line which on occasion crossover throughout the game leading to a final climax where all the stories converge. This method of storytelling is nothing new and it allows for a very consistent and well managed pace, never throughout the game will you get lost or frustrated with the lack of progress in the story as it has been very cleverly crafted to offer what seems like a world of possibilities yet keeps you tied very closely to the main plot.
Speaking of possibilities one of the features the developers have shown off is the choice system in that whatever you do will ultimately change the story and not just the ending, there are possibilities to kill main characters throughout the game and even change some key events based on what you do making Heavy Rain a different experience to each and every person who plays it. Some people might argue that since your decisions shape the events that happen throughout the game that there is no one correct story, this is true as everybody has different views on what is right. If someone tries to kill you then is placed in a position there their life is in your hands, what would you do? The game thrives on moral choice and the only correct way to play the game is what you as the player deem is correct according to your own moral code.
Most adventure games of this type have found a new home on Nintendo DS where the emphasis is placed on the story and not the controls of the game, Heavy Rainís control scheme is different to any 3rd person adventure game on the market right now. You control your character in real time using a combination of the left analogue stick and R2, I know what youíre thinking, this is the same control scheme as found in racing games, and youíd be correct the closest I can compare it to is the older Resident Evil games where the character will only move in the direction they are facing but instead of pushing forward with the analogue stick to walk you have to hold down the R2 trigger. It can be a little haphazard controlling what should be a woman but feels like a tank and trying to position your character in front of interactive objects can be somewhat tricky for the first few hours of the game.
Heavy Rain likes to sell itself as a Hollywood esque Psychological thriller that immerses the player into a world where you will feel like you are playing a movie. Most games have a set number of actions or moves the characters can do but to achieve what Quantic Dreams have with Heavy Rain they completely scrapped this idea in favour of giving the player the ability to perform hundreds of different actions throughout the game. This was made possible through onscreen button combinations that allow the user to do mundane things such as shave right through to investigating areas looking for evidence.
Action sequences in the game are controlled though quick time events much like an old FMV based game but unlike FMV games the transitions are smooth and even mistakes do not mean that you will lose the fight or fail only that your character may get cut or bruised. The action sequences and the button combination sections both use the same icons and some action sequences will require the use of button combinations so it all integrates quite well. Unfortunately there is one little gripe to be had with this system, one of the button combinations involves you tapping said button numerous times, the icon shakes to show you have to press it more than once but in the game especially during an intense moment your when your character is scared the icons will shake to show they are scared, it can on a few occasions be a little confusing to think through what the game wants you to do especially during an intense moment and they could have used colours to differentiate what is emotion and what is an action.