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Author Topic: Hey, anyone played Heavy Rain yet?  (Read 13434 times)
chineseroom

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« on: February 24, 2010, 09:22:54 AM »

Not sure what the release date is, but belted through the demo last night and it's looking very very interesting. Not particularly good neccesarily,.. but interesting...

Demo falls into two parts - in the first we play an asthmatic PI. Stop one: we have a character with a physical ailment that is going to prevent them doing anything too physical. Stop two: It's slow. Like Esther slow. The plot thickens, and then curdles. Of course we're visiting a prostitute. After all, this is a commercial games and women are either spies, doctors or prostitutes. (Sigh). But at least it's doing the film noir thing, so the real point is her son has been murdered and we're on the trail of the killer. It's half-decent noir too. Control system is an absolute pain in the arse though. Context demands actions mapped to specific buttons or joypad movements and these are not intutive at all. Made more complex by there being standardised controls underlying this. Makes settling into the game very difficult (at least for me, but I have big banana fingers generally). So it kind of pushes you away with the interface system whilst trying to suck you in the story. Is this deliberate? It's certainly curioser and curioser.

Just got into a fight. Awful, clumsy, inappropriate controls. Chained QTEs that go on and on and on. I don't want to fight. I'm playing a fat, middle-aged asthmatic. Suddenly it's a game, and suddenly it's all fallen apart.

Part two: I'm an FBI agent with some sunglasses mounted gadget for finding evidence at a crime scene. The script and visuals are good, but it's a little Condemned really. You get to wander around looking for clues.

Now, I'm a pisspoor reviewer and have probably made it sound not worth looking at but here's the thing. What Heavy Rain does, from this very limited glimpse anyway, is completely rip away traditional goal-reward loops. In the conversation with the prositute, I have no idea what the idealised solution is. I think I screw up and it finishes before I have the information I need because I gave the wrong response (I tried to sympathise, interestingly). But there's no fail state, no succeed state. Likewise, in the crime scene, I eventually head back to the office, not because I think I've completed the scene, or done what I was supposed to do, or WON or FAILED or anything... just... more fuzzy than that.

Anyway - if anyone has played the demo or he full version, be really interesting to hear your opinions. For me, in this smallest of windows onto the game, Heavy Rain looks like a really interesting not game trying to be a game and failing when it does. But it could well be one of the closest commercial implementations of a position not dissimilar to many people's on this forum out there. Hmmm....
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2010, 10:13:11 AM »

Here's some thoughts.
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2010, 10:21:54 AM »

So it kind of pushes you away with the interface system whilst trying to suck you in the story. Is this deliberate? It's certainly curioser and curioser.

Just got into a fight. Awful, clumsy, inappropriate controls. Chained QTEs that go on and on and on. I don't want to fight. I'm playing a fat, middle-aged asthmatic.

I agree with these points of critique. But I also agree with your positive note.
I find it interesting that the main reason why I'm not too keen on playing Heavy Rain is the apparent banality of the story. Which may be a first! Usually there's lots and lots of other reasons not to play a videogame. But deciding what game to play based on its content? I wish it was the norm, not the exception! Smiley

Anyway, we're definitely going to get the full version and play it all the way through. I'm reluctant to criticize Heavy Rain too much because they are really trying to do something interesting. And I understand their compromises. And I also know myself (I wouldn't touch crime novels with a 10 foot pole...).
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chineseroom

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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 11:20:32 AM »

Yeah, I think it's going to be absolutely worth doing the whole thing - and I totally agree about the story, but we'll see. Farenheit went completely crazy as it progresses so let's hope there are some more interesting things tucked into the later parts of the game... but I do think for this to get a high profile release... well, that's got to be hopeful!
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Thomas

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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2010, 04:05:43 PM »

I have not played the thing but glanced through a lot of reviews and player comments on it and caught some interesting stuff.

For example, people seem to find action sequences tense even though failure is not possible (or at least highly improbable, characters will only die at very rare scenes as far as I know). We know that this is true in books and films, but there seem to be some sort of common-knowledge in games that you need to have a possibility of death in order to create tension. Heavy Rain pretty seems to disprove this and I think that is a very important thing. It might be because that there has been a lot of talk along the lines of "every choice as a consequence" (which as far as I know not true), but I do not think that is all there is to it.

I am also wondering if the interaction system in Heavy Rain is a one-trick pony. Would another game using the system be as well received? There seems to be so little exploration left for the player, especially compared to plot heavy IF where there is always a lot of extra things to do (examining environment, interacting with "meaningless" objects, etc). Am I mistaken about this? If true, did you feel a limitation while playing?
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2010, 10:29:39 PM »

That's actually something I disliked about it: the feeling that you are constantly missing things (I have that in Interactive Fiction too). As opposed to the feeling that you're constantly finding things (which is how I feel in more open worlds).
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2010, 10:27:30 PM »

We've just played a few interesting chapters in Heavy Rain. They didn't advance the plot much and so there was more breathing space for developing the characters and the way they behave towards others and their environment. If the game doesn't insist on telling its story methodically, plot point by plot point, you get a glimpse of how interesting this medium can be -ironically, as as a story-telling medium. When the authors allow themselves to muse and paint instead of film and edit, things get so much better.
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Thomas

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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2010, 09:18:39 AM »

I am not sure I will ever get to play the game, so descriptions please Smiley
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2010, 09:41:54 AM »

What? You mean you will never come visit us in Gent?? Wink

I'm not sure if everyone is ok with spoilers...
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Thomas

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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2010, 10:19:00 AM »

Perhaps add spoiler tags?
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2010, 01:00:19 AM »

We just finished Heavy Rain. Feeling somewhat disappointed. The story, while surprising at some point, isn't very good. I can't really imagine anyone really wanting to tell this story. But we knew that. I think the thing that disappointed me more was how game-like it was in the end. Heavy Rain does not force you to redo a level when one of your avatars dies. But it is always very clear when you're in a life or death situation. And when you're avatar dies, it's hard to resist wanting to play again and press all the right buttons in order to save him. And that's all the gameplay is: pressing buttons. While you're doing that, you're not paying attention to the story or the scene. You're just waiting for orders and then you follow them.

But there's some very nice things about Heavy Rain as well. I think I might start the notgames blog with a post about that. Smiley
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2010, 10:01:09 AM »

A few weeks later. The storyline has faded. The action scenes ignored. Even the interaction is only a vague memory. But what remains is strong. I still have a memory of the emotional state of some of the characters at some points in the story. And of the silent looks in their faces. Perhaps the characters are flawed as actors. But they are real as synthetic beings. I am left with this sensation that there's living organisms in my Playstation. Maybe they are not exactly humans. Maybe they are not even characters in a story. In a way they are more real. Since they are synthetic characters created exclusively for this particular story, they cannot be regarded as actors. If their acting or representation is awkward at times, it is because these being are awkward. They are electronic creatures. But somehow, their awkwardness moves me. It reminds me of my own.
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