Heavy Rain – Heavy Narrative

I hope this is spoiler free in talking about Heavy Rain.
In all the DotGovLabs games workshops we have had discussion around narrative and how a game experience needs that in some form. Heavy Rain has come up a lot in that as a prime example of both story and character engagement. We also have often ended up talking about fun. Often in the fun discussion zany, wacky, quirky, frivolous are the natural partners to that. However we have also all been discussion challenge, and how solving something hard, achieving a complex task is rewarding and fun, but in a different way.
I had read a lot about Heavy rain, seen the pictures and heard others say how unusual it felt to engage with. Last night in a 4 hour stint I could not put Heavy Rain down, and there is a lot more to come story wise it would seem.
It certainly pushes some emotional buttons for me as a parent and has an air of intrigue about it that is not quite a horror film style fear but its suitably slow pace give you a lot of time to think and reflect of whats going on.
Heavy Rain
The acting in this form both the technology of the facial expressions to the brilliant voice talents blended with a varied set of camera angles and film style techniques have certainly moved this sort of story telling forward. It has clearly learned and extended its predecessor Fahrenheit, but cranks up the emotions even more.
The game mechanic is very simple, and is a serious of twin stick gestures at vary speeds or slightly more complex quicktime “Simon Says”. When something more action packed than walking around investigating happens you are bounced from you reflective and pondering mood into an almost panic. Its all adrenalin, but seems to be a different flavour flowing.
The plot has a central character and I felt I was in his shoes, though it was not too big a leap to segue into the other characters just as in a back story in a film. Feeling sorry for the character and wanting to help yet wondering if he is the one that needs help is key to this story.
At points when you think things are just settling down a curve ball is thrown and one of the most unpleasant levels I have played was what seemed to be a hallucination of all the crowds in a train station as static dummies, paused in time, slightly greyed out. You have to walk through them and as you touch them they crumple to the floor. It actually reminded me of the Modern Warfare 2 infamous airport scene, there innocent civilians are cut down by the team you have to work with and you can do little about it, its a shock, but more of a single moment out of context with the rest of MW2. Here in Heavy Rain, there is nothing you can do about the people either, you know its a dream, the panic of the slow chase you are in and watching people drop like flies will stick with me for while. It’s very spooky.
I am really looking forward to getting through this story now, likewise seeing how the apparent choices make a difference in the long run, at the moment if its making a difference its very subtle.
One last think, I love the FBI agents desktop AR. Roll on when we have that for real, great virtual world crossover.
***Update After several solid late night sessions I finished Heavy Rain last night. It certainly picked up the pace and told an intriguing story. There were moments I gasped and felt a variety of emotions form revulsion to relief and an undercurrent of sadness. Spending that much time with so few characters makes this feel like a TV mini series rather than a film. I usually wander from most games before finishing them as over the years the endings have let me down and I have felt it better to leave the thing hanging in the air as a great memory. This one though…. absolutely needs to be finished. What a great piece of entertainment. Thankyou Quantic Dream

One thought on “Heavy Rain – Heavy Narrative

  1. Pingback: Red Dead Redemption – it is what we miss that makes it so good « Life at the Feeding Edge

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