Video Game: Heavy Rain

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.

Nice girl. Too bad I killed her.

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.

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  • chukmaty

    While I always like the idea of video games having a good story, I always end up playing escapist games like Halo. The Halo games have terribly shallow, linear, and cliche storytelling. Non of that matters, because the simple story enhances enjoyment of the game because it is perfectly suited for an enjoyable escape into a universe of shooting ruthless alien hoards hellbent on genocide and the main character lends himself to be capable of doing things like jumping fifteen feet in the air, which is spectacular for game play.

    Video game storytelling will likely never be good. However, video game world creation is already beyond spectacular. In a book, often only one author pours their imagination into a world, what it looks like, what living in it is like. For a video game, a good one at least, often tens of people do so artistically and visually. Take Morrowind, the story has no authority and it really is nothing special wherever it does force itself into your attention, really no more than an excuse for your character to go places and find stuff. The world however is dazzling and alien, just looking up still screens of it gives me goosebumps. Video games can create remarkable worlds. I will even put up with lousy game play, in games like Final Fantasy 7, just to gaze at the Blade Runner esch world it inhabits.

    Just my thoughts, props on reviewing a game!