Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Heavy Rain

I should put a roman numeral in my title because I will be writing about this game a few more times.

The best place to start with this game would be the choices and actions you take or fail to make. There are key moments that change the course of the game, no doubt. But from the start to the meat of the game you slowly start to realize that very bad things can happen if you fail and event or choose to do something one way and not another. When I started I really thought to myself that even if I didn't do something right that the story was on tracks and would end up the same no matter what. However, as I progressed I realized that the character your playing, one, two, three, or four could, in fact die. Or hit a dead end in jail, or not find enough clues and so on.

The games story is very dark. You play four characters in sort of a round robin way and each one has it's own story line yet has the same objective. Stop the Origami Killer. The stories of each are so powerful that it's hard to not stop yourself from talking about it. I will say that the story revolves around the kidnapping of one of the main characters sons. I say one, because the other does, in fact die. Yeah. Um, very dark.

Quantum Dream, the creators behind the game have nailed something that is difficult to express. You spend time in the game playing with your sons. Not in a cut scene, but actual completing a series of quick time events (think Shenmue) that can take about as long as you want. I changed a babies diaper, rocked her to sleep, and put her to bed. I made scrambled eggs. I looked out windows, sat on a lawn chair to think before my next decision. I tended to wounds one step at a time. Disinfecting, treating and wrapping it. I went through a detox moment by walking into the bathroom, turning on the shower and sitting fully clothed. All things where I was in control for each step of the way.

There is a scene early on where you are a character named Madison. Your sitting in your apartment in the middle of the night. The game doesn't guide to do anything so you end up walking around, checking things out. Turn off the TV, check what's in the fridge, take a shower... as time passes you see things in the corner of your eye. You move to try and check it out, looking, looking till finally you are assaulted. It's creepy and you feel fear as you are playing. All you think of is "I am actually frightened, I want to get out of this, this is awful". After that moment I was really hooked. The writers of a game, but setting up a vulnerability through attire, mundane tasks, and a shower created an environment for me to feel those things. And it didn't stop there.

I finished my first play through of the game and got, what is quite possibly, the saddest ending I've ever experienced in a game, movie, TV show, what have you. I thought to myself that this couldn't be the game everyone played. So late last night I went online to see what others thought of the ending...

What? I spent nearly an hour looking for someone who got my ending. I don't think I saw one person that got it. In fact, I realized that there were large parts of the game that I didn't even see. I even listened to the Gamers with Jobs discussion on the game where they talked about it for nearly an hour. Different games. Honestly. Main characters that died. Main characters meeting in places that I didn't get.

A game that at first I thought was an on the rails "movie game" wasn't like that at all. The people I failed to save could have been saved. Moments tied to a table where a sick doctor was trying to kill me, could kill me.

This game is an achievement. It's sticking with me. It's everything a game like Shenmue has, everything you like about that game, full on in every chapter.

I'm a day away from finishing it so it is still very fresh. But.

Oh my.

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