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Heavy Rain: Hyped or Skeptical? |

Heavy Rain has been gathering lots of positive buzz. It was shown to private audiences under NDA at E3 and it has developed its own aura of mystique. Several influential journalists have said something to the effect of “OMG! It’s awesome but I contractually can’t say anything else about it”.

Quantic Dream is a gutsy artistic developer. Some recent screenshots show absolutely dramatic improvements to the character visuals and animation. Compare the Heavy Rain teaser shots to a screen from their previous game:




Quite an improvement, isn’t it?

However, there is one big reason for skepticism: Quantic Dream’s most recent and biggest game, Indigo Prophecy (also called Fahrenheit outside the U.S.). This game got a lot of praise for being gutsy and unique which is true, but let’s take a quick sobering look back at this title:

Gameplay: The gameplay is a mix of classic adventure game elements and “quick time events” (the game flashes a symbol on screen and you have to make a corresponding timed move with the controller). The adventure elements are the better part: dialog trees and decision trees with branching plot lines along with pixel-hunting type exploration (find all the hidden items and actions available in every room). Quick time events have a bad reputation, most players don’t like them, and this game makes frequent, constant, and completely annoying use of them. It’s every bit as bad as it sounds.

Story: The story is a blatant rip off of the popular TV series, Twin Peaks. It focuses on a murder that is committed by a regular nice guy who was possessed by a supernatural evil spirit. The story starts with a normal police investigation and then descends into the surreal and the paranormal. Sound familiar? If that isn’t obvious enough, the game’s soundtrack is composed by the same Angelo Badalamenti who is famous for doing the distinctive Twin Peaks music. I love Twin Peaks and the other works of David Lynch, but there’s nothing worse than other works that try to imitate that same brand of surrealism. Quick tip: If you ever attend a film festival and hear “this director is the next David Lynch”, head the other way! And the absolute kiss of death is when you hear something like, “this up and coming director is like a combination of David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino”.

With Heavy Rain, I have no doubt that the graphics, the animation, and the technology in general will improve. But I am skeptical about the story, the gameplay, and the synergy between the two.

So am I being overly negative? Is my skepticism valid? Or is the hushed mystique around this game deserved?

  • Gary

    I loved Fahrenheit, well until it descended into a farce and went down the supernatural/weird route.

    Up until that twist, it was an excellent game and very enjoyable. I hope Heavy Rain does not have a similar twist.

  • Darrin

    Just curious: did you like Twin Peaks or recent Lynch movies like Mulholland Dr or Inland Empire?

  • I also loved Fahrenheit… it was quite short (but had good replay value, imho), but the end of the story wasn’t all that cracked up to be, tbh.

    I didn’t know Twin Peaks^^ (although I am a TV series and Movie nut^^) So your criticism for it ripping TP off is… not a concern for me.

    I liked Mulholland Dr., but they aren’t 100% my kind of movies.

    I hope, they also lessen the QTEs in cutscenes… In Fahrenheit, it took me several tries to kill the endboss (which VERY much reminded me of the endboss in Hardline (VERY old, but VERY good “on rails” shooter from ~1995 or so), and that bored me and got me angry. I don’t want trial and error to rule my games. This has nothing to do with skill or training, only with how good your reflexes are (and mine ARE good, I took the jet pilot test at the Bundeswehr!)

  • Ben

    Huh, did you actually play Fahrenheit? Otherwise, i can’t explain this skepticism. Fahrenheit is a really fantastic and unique game.

  • mpz

    It probably wont be my type of game either … but some people like that kinda thing. I’d still be interested in the level of visuals they are able to obtain even so. Will they be able to breach the ‘uncanny valley’? Close perhaps. Stills from Heavenly Sword a far far better than once they started moving.

    (also that BBC reporter who keeps saying he saw something amazing said it wasn’t this, despite many suggestions it was).

    It wont be a little-big-planet kinda system-seller perhaps, but this breadth of titles with wider appeal is what helps set playstation systems apart.

  • ehandlr

    One thing most people don’t remember is the dev’s touting that they will be using AAA actors for this game. One rumor surfaced that Leonardo DeCaprio already signed on.

    Coupled with the expensive motion capture device that QD acquired….I can’t help but to think they are really putting effort into this game.

  • Gary

    Nope Darrin, haven’t watched any of them.

  • Darrin

    Quantic Dream actually provides mocap services to the movie industry. If anyone is going to have jaw dropping character graphics and animation it’s these guys. I don’t doubt them there.

    My concern is gameplay and story. Clearly everyone else who commented here loved the game, but I think that group is still a minority.

  • Let it come out first. It’s just a tech demo from everything i’ve seen. Even the Playboy writer that broke NDA says it’s going o be a while before the game is out. Things change. And who knows MS might catch wind of the all the hype surrounding the game and decide to give everyone over at Quantic dreams Moneyhats. Microsoft seems to be giving those out latley,
    Speculation on a blog is well and good, but it’s too early for the thumbs up thumbs down verdict.
    I mean it’s just about the right time to speculate on LBP if it’s going to be fantastic or simply the best game ever TM. but that’s coming out in October. So it’s alitt;e closer. Hell I want to buy the soundtrack from the LBP Amazon trailer.

  • ehandlr

    I’m fairly certain that QD has a 3 game exclusive contract with Sony and Sony is the publisher for all 3 games.

  • First game I played for the ps3 was armor core 4 and I wasn’t to impressed but this…….. wow, changed my mind bout the console.