Heavy Rain is simply breathtaking. Back at GDC 09, David Cage gave us an exclusive interview as to how the Heavy Rain showcase for gameplay aims and strives for the goals of Quantic Dream: to touch the emotions of any person playing and make a game relate to something never seen before. Simply put: Heavy Rain has been the best thing we have seen at E3 2009 alone, second to Lionhead Studio’s Project Milo. We have been waiting excruciatingly to play Heavy Rain ever since it was announced in 2006 after a simply striking technical demonstration titled “The Casting” in which a realistic virtual actress delivered an emotionally enticing monologue as part of an audition. We has a chance to play the same E3 scene at Sony’s Gamers Day Event back in April, but did not get much time with it to write any solid impressions. Now, we have had more than 20 minutes and are ready to detail every single aspect about it. This preview, for all you worriers, does not spoil the main story and hardly even represents Heavy Rain as a whole according to Cage. Each scene is supposed to be unique, with different ways of interacting, so this is just a snippet of any interaction experienced.
The scene is titled “Mad Jack,” and rightly so as we soon had a chance to see. Cage described this scene to us as a “classic dark thriller” and then introduced us to one of the main stars, Norman Jayden, a young FBI agent who has been called in to investigate the case of the Origami Killer, a killer that leaves an Origami figure in the hands of his victims. Jayden is an organized, methodological, and simply mercurial character with degrees in psychology and forensics. His background is the reason he was assigned to the case, given that he spent the last two years talking to serial killers in prison. Cage makes clear that the character has a sense of tension to him from substance-abuse problem. Eventually Jayden approaches a bulky looking character named Mad Jack, a tough looking man with some possible traces to the killer. The investigation leads to a murder near a building that involves a blue car.
Jayden is one clever fellow. He is armed with ARI: (added reality interface) prototype, which consists of a pair of glasses and a black glove that can detect and analyze DNA, footprints, and other traces in the environment in real time, something that is simply incredible and vivifies the CSI scene.
The beginning scene takes place in an eerie and yet beautiful/clustered junkyard that Jayden decides to scope out because the man running it, Mad Jack, supposedly might have ties to the killer. As the rain pours down, Jayden pulls up in the ribald place as he opens the car door. The atmosphere is just simply incredible in Heavy Rain. While he is in the car, you can hear his angst from being stressed by the current situation. Top this all off with his drug abuse problem, and you get a simply interpretative character to the highest extent. Details in the environment such as the murky weather and the gloomy palette add to the incredible draw of the incredibly sound music that adheres to the mood. Every movement and detail in Heavy Rain is simply subtle and worthy of applause from just the demo alone, which says a lot whereas most demos do not reveal much. A box with a small white arrow is displayed on the side of the car to indicate that the door can be opened by pressing the right analog stick. Symbols will appear onscreen when there is an action available. Quite interestingly, this lends itself to making sure every single exploration technique is executed carefully. Being drenched from the rain, our Jayden asks Jack to come inside to talk, but surprisingly unlike the E3 Stage Demo, this Mad Jack denies. So we were left to go inside and explore with ARI, a simply revolutionary technology.
Suddenly, a curve arrow by Jayden’s shoulder indicates that he can put his ARI specs on by pushing the right analog stick in a half-circle motion. Color faded as contrast became heightened from his vision until everything was tinged with a green hue. Data appears on screen dynamically with the press of the R1 button to indicate points of interest such as footprints, blood, and orchid pollen related to the Origami Killer himself. Speckled clues eventually led Jayden to the acid bath with a body in it, unfortunately Mad Jack appears out of nowhere with a gun pressed to the back of his head. A series of intense quick-time events allows Jayden to steadfastly evade harm’s way, using surroundings to distract Mad Jack long enough to disarm him. A series of well-choreographed punches were exchanged, and while the fast-paced action unfolded onscreen, the intensiveness translated to the controllers directly.
After the encounter, Jayden faints from substance-abuse blurredness and is shown appearing in a car that is about to be compiled by metallic compacters. From here, Quantic Dream sets up the traditional Indigo Prophecy-esque camera angle showing a side view of the car and an inside view as Jayden struggles while figuring out what to do. The character’s moods themselves also act to the intense action in which players carry out their moves. The players do not solely affect the characters, but the characters also affect the players and their actions –simply marvelous.
With more than 12 hours of confirmed gameplay, Quantic Dream is shaping out to make a title that is fit for simply none other than a positive reception come review time from us, that is if they can stick to their roots long enough and be as meticulous as they already are with Heavy Rain, so far one of our most anticipated PlayStation 3 titles this year.