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Heavy Rain Demo Impressions

For those of us who were able to get a hold of the demo early, I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Well, you just read my impression, so you’re free to leave now!. To begin, the demo itself is approximately 1700MBs (the codes were specific to EU/UK regions, so you’ll need a European account to download it, so the size may be the result of localization). Keep in mind, this Impressions post contains spoilers, so read at your own discretion!

When you enter the demo, you may want to change the gamma settings in the options menu, though, but you may also want to keep it a little darker than the recommended “until you can barely see the origami” settings for better atmosphere. The production screens, etc at the beginning also have surround sound encoded with rain drops, so it does a decent job of immersing you into the game before the menu even comes up. As for the menu itself, I don’t know what the “Tutorial” is, since I’ve went to “Start New Demo” and assumed that it would be included (it might be the beginning part of the Scott Shelby chapter “Sleazy Place”). The loading screens are pretty cool as well. They depict a close up of the face of the character you will be controlling, in great detail, too. Anyway, onto the most important part of the game, the gameplay.

You start out as Private Detective Scott Shelby. After putting your car into park, you open the door of the vehicle to step out. A lot of the right-stick QTEs (Quick Time Events) are pressure sensitive, so you can open the door slowly, quickly, or close it again as an example. The movement completes when the stick extends outward fully, or it just reverts back to the original state.

Once you get out, you head down the alleyway, and prompts come up and tell you what to do (this is what I think was the tutorial), and includes how to do most of the usual prompts within the game. You also get a chance to use Shelby’s inhaler (he’s got asthma), to give you a little taste of what it’s like in stressful situations (a bigger taste later).

The biggest difference from pretty much any other game is the walking. It took me a couple minutes to get used to, but you control your direction with the left stick and walk with the R2 button. I thought it’d be like a racing game, but not quite, since the left stick rather ‘points’ you in a direction, as opposed to turning (like a steering wheel). It’s weird at first, but you get used to it (the only problems I have is overstepping my destination).

After the little alleyway tutorial, you head inside a little apartment complex and you ask the tenant at the counter where one of the victim’s mother is. He says he doesn’t know, until you slip him a 5. You go up stairs and talk to her (she’s a prostitute). She says she’ll give you 10 minutes, “no kissing and no weird shit” she says. I put a 50 on her table and tell her that’s not what I’m there for (wasted $50!). She assumes I’m a cop and resists giving too many details.

After the wheel comes up to choose a direction for the conversation, you’ll be able to convince her and she’ll start talking. You then choose what kinds of questions to ask, etc. and you get a few more details, but nothing too too revealing. The alarm goes off and she asks you to leave. You leave a business card on her table and step out, when your asthma starts kicking in again.

This is when it gets a little exhilarating. The choices here shake and you reach into different pockets looking for your inhaler, when you find it, you have to use it a few times, as a bald headed man walks by to the woman’s room and pounds on the door and forces himself in. After you recover, you hear her screaming as he’s yelling. You knock on the door and he answers, he tells you to leave, but you see her on the floor. When it comes to choices, there’s a lot going on.

You can walk away, but I chose to kick the door in instead. After a heated argument, he starts fighting with you. This was probably my favorite part of the demo, really, because there’s a lot going through your head and the QTE prompts are all over the place, making it hard for you to focus and gets your heart pounding as you fight the guy. I didn’t miss any prompts, so I didn’t see any ill effects of missing any, but after a good ass kicking, he decides to leave. To tell you th truth, I haven’t had that kind of adrenaline rush since the microwave security system on MGS4! Anyway, the woman (don’t remember her name, but I will say this, she kind of looks like the girl from ‘the audition’ from back when the game was first announced) finally agrees to tell you a bit more and thanks you for the help.

After this, it kicks to the next playable chapter, “Crime Scene”, playing as the FBI profiler Nomran Jayden. With this scenario, you’ll use the “thought” button (L2) a lot more. After going to the police line and confirming with one of the officers that you’re an FBI agent, you can ask that you’re looking for the lieutenant, he tells you he’s somewhere around there. At this point, you can either go looking for him, or begin looking for clues (I chose the latter). This introduces you to one of Jayden’s gameplay mechanics, his glasses and glove combo.

You use these to pick up clues in the area. After pressing R1 to scan the area, I found a few unrelated DNA deposits, but soon came across a trail of pollen, which led to the tent covering the victim’s body. I headed toward the body and took a peek inside, but was stopped by the lieutenant.

After telling him my business, I walked beside him and asked him questions about the crime scene (which was kind of hard staying behind him since you walk faster than he does :P), he tells you he’s busy and to come back to him if you find anything interesting. At this point, I found a few more clues, including footprints on the other side of the train tracks, blood on one of the planks on the tracks, and blood beside a fence opening. Next to the opening, and after discovering the blood, you’ll now be able to head up the embankment, which requires the “hold this button as you hold this one” mechanic, and after a couple slips, I figured that out :P. After making your way to the top, you discover more footprints and tire tracks.

After collecting said evidence, you then have to follow more QTE prompts as you make your way back down the embankment. Ignoring a press will cause you to slip (not like my suit wasn’t already muddied up enough from slipping earlier). I headed back to my car, the lieutenant lets me know he’s leaving, I tell him I am, too and I head back to my car. At least the game gives you an idea of what you should be doing, because as I went to open the door, he stopped it halfway and looked back at the body, so obviously I wasn’t done with my clues.

I headed back to the body, where I looked back inside and used my glove to highlight clues. After finding out the victim’s identity, states of the body, etc. I discover the origami figure of a dog clenched in his hand (he comments that it had to have been placed post mortem). After collecting all that evidence, he says he thinks he’s got everything he needs (either he says it automatically or it was one of the thought prompts, can’t remember). I head back to the car, turn on the ignition, and drive away, thus ending the demo as it goes into one of the game-rendered trailers that was recently released.

In conclusion, the game is definitely NOT a mainstream game, so don’t expect something you’re used to! Reviews will certainly vary, with a few expected less-than-stellar scores (like MAG), so it’s definitely going to be a case-by-case scenario. As for me, I was totally engrossed. This is definitely going to be a great game in a genre all it’s own. Every choice you make has an impacting consequence on the storyline, so I’m going to be doing a lot of replays on this when I get it (I will also allow Shelby to get his ass kicked next time haha). Emotionally, I have a feeling this game is going to pull a few heartstrings, and you’ll definitely feel immersed yourself if you play it with an open mind (so it’s best to play it without expectations).

For those questioning the game, thinking it will be a flop, you’re absolutely wrong and you owe it to yourself to, at least, try the demo out before coming to any conclusions. If you hadn’t gotten it early, it will be in the PlayStation Store this coming Thursday. Can’t wait for release later this month!