SCE’s Heavy Rain was one of the Playstation 3’s most critically acclaimed video games last year, boasting incredible storylines and characters, a dazzling plot, and a degree of interactivity and unpredictability that is thus far pretty much unparalleled.
Or so I’m told, anyway. I haven’t played it. Regardless, it’s being adapted into a film, and David Milch, writer of the absolutely fucking amazing “Deadwood” as well as co-creator of “NYPD Blue” has been tapped to write the script. This seems like good news, especially for a game as complex and character-driven as Heavy Rain. The game is a noir-ish affair, involving the investigation of “the Origami Killer,” who uses heavy rainfalls to drown his victim. The main character, Ethan Mars, is trying to prevent his son from becoming the next victim, and there are an FBI profiler, a journalist, and a private detective also on the case.
But… I’m always cautious about video game adaptations, since we’ve been burned on virtually 99% of them so far. So I asked the other video game geek (and all-around clever sonofabitch) Drew Morton for his thoughts, and he’s not particularly optimistic.
Drew’s thoughts on this are unsurprisingly very well articulated, so instead of fumbling through paraphrasing his thoughts, I’m gonna just paste them: Basically, Drew’s concerns are twofold:
1. Interactivity: The game’s entire third-act depends on the player’s actions throughout the first two acts. There are 6-8 different endings I believe. The appeal of playing is to find out what consequences your moral decisions have. Unlike most games like say, Bioshock, Heavy Rain does not divide into an “easy” binary of a good ending vs. a bad ending. There are plenty of shades in between and small actions have major consequences. I feel compelled to play it again just to see if I can completely undermine the narrative so that the bad guy gets away with it and the game ends at it’s earliest possible moment.
2. Interface: There are multiple reasons why the interactivity of Heavy Rain carries such weight with its players. The writing is fairly strong (there are some odd gaps, specifically regarding the protagonist’s visions) and the characters are vividly defined and motivated. The atmosphere is incredibly intense and unrelenting in the best possible sense of the word—-it is like playing David Fincher’s “Se7en.” Yet, from a personal standpoint, the characteristic that brings everything together is the game’s reliance on a faux gestural based interface (Wii, Dance Dance Revolution, Rock Band). Players, via the PS3 controller or the PS Move, “control” the characters by mimicking the actions they are completing. For example, climbing up a muddy hill involves holding different buttons down in an awkward fashion, miming the sensation of the walk. In another sequence, you must hold your hand down and cut off a finger in a sacrifice for a fact that will help you track down your child’s kidnapper. The intensity of the scene not only derives from the music and the mise-en-scene, the moral stakes and the sympathy we feel for the protagonist, but we also feel a haptic connection to these people that is produced by the interface.
So, there you have it.
What say you, chickies? Anyone else play it? Have any thoughts? Should I play it after I’m done with Mass Effect 2 and Dead Space 2?
Here’s the trailer for the game.