- LOL at that face
- Uncanny Valley misunderstandings
- Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy BECAME THE MATRIX
- Quick time events
Right, with that list out the way, maybe we should be talking about Heavy Rain. I wasn't the biggest fan of Fahrenheit, the concept was good (as far as I got, before things went silly) but it did rely entirely on QTEs (which I generally hate) and apparently the story just goes right off the rails and runs headlong into a tanker of explosive WTF.
But then, David Cage seems to have some good ideas about storytelling and the player's role in the game, and it looks like Heavy Rain might be closer to achieving those than he's managed so far. I'm making this thread because I read a preview/interview on Eurogamer
that actually makes it sound rather good. Yes there does still seem to be some gimmicky interaction, but also some rather clever touches too. I'll post extracts from the text here, because it's 3 pages and I'm too lazy to copy it all across.
Now there's just over a year to wait until the full game is released. So what exactly is it all about? "Heavy Rain is an adult thriller based on five simple ideas," says Cage. The first of these is the "story-driven experience"; the plot that unfolds not via cut-scenes but directly through the players' actions. "You don't watch the story, you play it, and even generate it. You are not only the actor, but the writer and the director of the experience." Cage says he wanted to create an emotionally-involving narrative that would make the player care. "The characters on-screen are not just a bunch of pixels," he says. "They are real, living and breathing characters, and we do whatever it takes to create a feeling of empathy with them."
In addition, there is determination to create a game with an adult theme and subject matter. "We believe that videogames are mature enough to tell more complex stories carrying depth and meaning," explains Cage, "You've seen so many games telling you about rookies going off to the second world war, heroes trying to save the world... We try to tell a real story that's happening in a real world. No supernatural powers, no monster to kill, just real life." He reckons this can be just as exciting. "If not more."
Madison swings open the bathroom door to reveal there's a dead woman in the bathtub, her head and torso submerged in a pool of blood. Our heroine gasps, stumbles out of the room and opens another door. Just like in the trailer, we see oddly posed and dressed mannequins; except now we see they aren't mannequins at all, but real women who have been gutted and stuffed by the taxidermist.
"Oh sh**," says Cage. The strings reach a peak. The screen splits into two panes, and in the one that takes up the left-hand third of the screen we see a man pulling up outside the house and getting out of his car. In the right hand pane, Madison hears the car and starts looking frantically for an escape route. She heads for the stairs as he enters the house and heads for the kitchen. This isn't a cut-scene, confirms Cage; she's being controlled all the while, and the guy doing the demo is being sure to creep rather than run so the taxidermist doesn't hear anything.
As he settles down in an armchair and turns the TV on, Madison carefully and quietly opens the door to the garage. She presses the switch, rolls under the gap, races to her motorbike and rides away to safety. The strings ebb away and the ponderous piano music returns. Cage and his audience breathe a sigh of relief.
"That was cool, that was okay," he says. "But that was one story. We made it out of the house, we didn't get caught. We will call the police and the guy will be arrested. But what if, when we were exploring the house, we had changed something - left a cupboard door open, maybe - and the guy had noticed? What if, when we were escaping, we didn't catch that bottle we knocked over, and it smashed and made a noise?" Any number of actions, explains Cage, could have changed the outcome. So, "Let's play differently and see what happens."
Once again, we watch the man leave his car and enter the house. But this time, instead of heading for the kitchen, he starts walking up the stairs to the bathroom. "He's managed by AI, so I can't predict what he's going to do," says Cage.
Madison starts searching for somewhere to hide, and once again the options are context-sensitive - except now more than one button icon appears. This demonstrates something called the "impress system", according to Cage. You may have to hold down several buttons at once to maintain a position, and you may find that as a result your fingers are uncomfortable just like your character. In this instance, the man controlling Madison must hold down triangle, circle, R2 and L1 to keep her hidden in a wardrobe.
The taxidermist, having heard Madison moving around, enters the room. He looks under the bed. "It's a good job we didn't hide under there," says Cage. But now he's approaching the wardrobe. "Sh**." He pulls open the doors, Madison screams and the split-screen disappears as a fully fledged fight gets underway.
"That was another way of playing the same scene. We could play it five, ten or 20 times and show you different versions," says Cage. "We could have stayed hidden in the house, found a phone and called the police, who would have turned up and arrested the man. We could have killed him, perhaps using the screwdriver or the chainsaw. Or we could have been killed by him, which would be taken onboard by the script, and the story would continue with this information... There are many different options."
Sorry for the wall of text, I'll try and get some screenshots up later when I'm home from work.