Heavy Rain, from Quantic Dream, is maybe the kind of game that would not have been made in years past. The PlayStation 3 title is decidedly not an action title, or a platformer, or a FPS, RTS or RPG. If anything, it’s more like the old-school point and click adventures of the PC … minus the pointing and clicking and plus a whole dose of quick-time events. While the Wii has had success with point and click games, Heavy Rain is the first game that’s even like those titles to hit the PlayStation 3. But is it any fun or a total bore?
The Heavy Rain demo at PAX featured a chapter starring one of the four major protagonists, a detective named Scott Shelby looking for clues on the Origami Killer. In this snippet, Scott enters a store owned by a man named Hassan, who’s son was a victim of the Origami Killer. Scott’s there to try and find out some information, but Hassan refuses to talk, stating that no one was there for him when his son was killed. Every angel seems to get nowhere for Scott, so he resigns himself to getting an inhaler from the back of the store and leaving.
The game’s animations look absolutely fluid and beautiful. From a movement perspective, it’s definitely the most realistic game I’ve ever seen, but the fact that it’s basically like an interactive movie certainly helps it look that great. Scott’s movements as you control him, and the actual animations of the characters show no signs of clipping, floating, or sluggishness.
As Scott goes to look for an inhaler, though, a young man named Andrew enters the store and holds Hassan at gunpoint, demanding money. Scott, upon seeing this, is left with a few options to diffuse the situation. He can move from the back of the store to flank Andrew, avoiding things like falling boxes or potato chips under his feet that would otherwise give him away.
Literally every action seems to require a button be pressed, whether it’s to move or to keep your hands up in the air at gunpoint. For example, Scott’s hands were held up by pressing L1 and R1 while even avoiding the pitfalls while sneaking up behind Andrew took well-timed button presses.
As Scott moved to the front, Andrew caught his attempt to stop him and held Scott at gunpoint. Several options appeared over Scott’s head, different dialogue options he could take that would have different responses. From what I was told, there are multiple options to this scenario, including ones that result in more aggressive behavior from Andrew or in Hassan or Scott being being shot, but every player I watched took the same path of trying to talk Andrew down while inching slowly closer. However, each time, Scott’s attempt failed, forcing him to wrestle with Andrew for the gun and eventually take him down. Each of these actions required multiple presses of a single button within a certain amount of time to successfully complete the take down.
After the situation was diffused, Hassan was not only grateful, but willing to provide the detective with some information on the Origami Killer. As this demo wound down, though, I found myself very impressed and wondering how a game that’s almost all quick-time events could be so deep and enticing. I have to chalk it up to Quantic Dream’s ability to tell a fabulous story in such a small frame with superb voice acting and their great work on making the game’s animations look so real. While games like Ninja Blade might have been chock full of QTEs before Heavy Rain was, no one’s ever done it better, and the sheer number of paths one can take through the game will certainly encourage multiple playthroughs.
PlayStation 3 owners should look forward to this game, as should anyone who wants a game with a top-notch story.