I can only imagine the pitch meeting for the new game Heavy Rain, on the PS3:
"Hey guys, let's make a game that tells a psychological story that asks tough questions!"
"Okay, what's the catch?"
"Controls are entirely QTE's or contextual actions."
In all seriousness, Heavy Rain in my opinion, as the title does say, is a step in the right direction. As a gamer who enjoys a good story just as much as fun gameplay, this game is really one of the best I've ever played. Let me set up a spoiler-free(ish) story idea:
We are in a nameless city that is caught in the grip of the mysterious "Origami Killer." This killer's M.O. is to kidnap a boy between the ages of 10-13. It is always in the fall, during a period of heavy rain. The child is found 4-5 days later, drowned in rainwater. You switch off between four characters, including an FBI agent, a reporter, and a father who's son has been kidnapped. The controls are also pretty interesting. You walk forward with R2, all other actions are contextual, following onscreen prompts. These are controlled through the right stick, the shoulder buttons, SixAxis motion controls, and the X, O, Square, and Triangle buttons. It can be incredibly immersive when done correctly.
The most amazing bit is the for sure the story. The story is excellent, drawing you in while slowly revealing the whole idea to you. One sequence in particular stands out. As Ethan Mars, you must complete a series of trials the Origami Killer has set out for you, in order to prove how far you would go for your son. They each are named by the origami figure the trial is written on. In the "Lizard" trial, Mars heads to an abandoned apartment, where he is informed he has five minutes to remove the first section of one of his fingers. That's it. It's up to you (the player) to find a tool in the apartment (such as a knife or a saw), and then cut off said section. The scene was intense, and you really felt the fear in the character. A stand out moment, for sure.
If I had one complaint, it would be the voice acting is sometimes a little off. This game was made by a French studio, with French and British actors portraying the characters. Some hide it better than others, but still the accents sometimes find their way through at weird times, and it does add a little jolt when you seriously get into a scene.
All in all, an amazing game. If you own a PS3, get it just to try, unless you are the type that doesn't like down moments in a game. This is a huge achievement in video game storytelling, or as the game itself calls it: "Interactive Drama." I can't wait to see where this game concept goes in the future.
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