Heavy Rain Preview (PS3)

Most new IP's have lots to say for themselves. Some that look really good have lots of press and lots of talk floating about them, but even then they, meaning publishers and developers, do a lot of talking. Heavy Rain is part of a minority...little talk, but big fuss. And for good reason: it's not meant to be just a game.

Heavy Rain, made by Quantic Dream, well known for Indigo Prophecy (or the original name Fahrenheit), is a compilation of four stories that can play out in hundreds of different ways. Every choice made in the game has an alternate branch it can follow, something I'll explain later on.

First and foremost, Heavy Rain is not your average game. Its emphasis is on the story and on controls. The story is about the Origami Killer, a serial killer that four of the playable characters (one for each story) are trying to find, or at least to solve the murders the killer is committing. Details on the characters are sketchy right now, but the demo we played featured an FBI agent with some pretty nifty gear.

Arriving at the scene, four options were immediately available. Besides complaining about the cold, I could go home, investigate elsewhere or push on.
So, of course, I pushed on. I was intercepted by this guy, who doesn't look friendly at all, but isn't going to stop my investigation.

Driving to the first part of an investigation, I was immediately given four choices of things to do, two of them making simple cinematics (one being to comment on the cold weather). The other two were pretty straight forward: get back in the car and drive away, avoiding the entire upcoming scene, or carry on and see what happens. The important thing to note is that no scene is required, though obviously players will need to eventually do something to make the story progress. The choice of what to do, however, is entirely up to the player. So we pushed forward.

This agent has a glove that can do what a police lab can, that being read the DNA off blood splatters, tell which liquids are which, and do it all in real time. A pair of glasses come with it that show clues, similar to a blacklight, but they work everywhere. Together, they make any crime scene an instant investigation room.

Using my super investigating glasses and glove, I find some things I wasn't supposed to find, which leads to a brief struggle with Mr. Unfriendly.
I gain the upper hand, thanks to my cunning button-pressing abilities. Unfortunately, character flaws mean this fight isn't over. Not by a longshot.

The demo we played had an entire investigation, which allowed any amount of investigating I liked until I solved the puzzle. That puzzle being a body hiding in a pool of acid. The interesting part is that there are several hints that lead to this. Alternatively, I could find the body there all on my own just by looking, though it is hard to spot with the naked eye, even on a good TV. This brought the third part of the game.

Once the body was discovered, so was the very mean owner of the truckyard we were in, with a gun to the agent's head. A struggle entails, with the agent having access to a number of tools he finds. First, a chair, then a lead pipe, then a wooden frame. Each of these can be picked up with good timing and the press of a button, or missed/disregarded for an alternate path. Of course, this is a big guy, so every action that hurts him is needed to take him out.

After passing out, I wake up handcuffed to a car about to be crushed. Thankfully, I know there's a gun in the glove compartment, which sets me free.
That doesn't mean the fight's over. Unfriendly finds me and has me by the scruff. Depending on how you play, you may have never even reached this point!

I successfully fought him off and got the gun in my hands, but apparently this FBI agent has a bit of a drug problem, and loses his wits and his weapon and passes out, leaving him in a car about to be crushed. The following scene is finding a way to escape, using the left analog stick to look around and the right stick or assigned buttons to initiate actions. The developer told me to look in the glove compartment to the right, which had a pistol, which I was able to use to shoot the handcuffs off my wrists, free myself, and climb out of the car before I turned into human soup.

The fight didn't end there, though I wasn't able to keep the enemy at bay. I died, one possible storyline that just happens. In fact, even if I died then, it's not a big deal because each of the four characters can die. There's no winning or losing in Heavy Rain; the story has no winning or losing, simply the story. In this case, the FBI agent/drug addict didn't make it out alive. I could have done better and perhaps fought off the scary guy, or avoided the whole scene entirely, or perhaps not found the body and left before any struggle ensued. And that's the beauty of Heavy Rain that Quantic Dream is looking to employ: that it doesn't matter how you get to the end, because there are millions of ways to do it. It's the experience that counts.

Heavy Rain is set to release in early 2010 exclusively for the PlayStation 3.


By Revan (SI Elite) on Oct 12, 2009
Man this game sure looks different. Wonder how this thing is going to turn out...