This is one of those games that come out every now and then that’s supposed to bring us closer to the realization of full interactive storytelling. Indigo Prophecy was the last one I played–by the same developer, Quantic Dream–though there may have been others in the meantime. Generally, I find these games interesting but I strongly suspect they miss the point of what video games are really good at. I’m not even entirely sure full interactive storytelling is a consummation to be wished.
Anyway, Heavy Rain is quite an advance in the genre. You control a series of characters trying to stop a serial killer before he claims another victim. You make decisions: who to question, where to go, what to ask or look at when you get there. The outcome of the story is substantially different according to what you decide.
All of which is involving enough. But the truth is: the end of the story seems to depend more than anything on pressing the right buttons really quickly during action scenes, just like in any other game. And irritatingly, I found if I pressed the right buttons eight out of ten times, but then missed the last one, I got killed–and unlike most video games, there’s no way to go back and get it right. If one of your characters dies, he’s just dead.
The truth is, I played so badly that just about all the good guys died and all the worst-case scenarios came true, which was kind of depressing. So maybe I’m just bitter, but while I found this interesting, fun and different, it didn’t really rock my world. Give me Super Mario any day.