Cops & Robbers – Weekly Recommendations 13/06 – 19/06
Every week I give three gaming recommendations (very) loosely tied to something topical. These recommendations span platform, generation and genre and are all games that I have played, enjoyed and highly recommend. As always, comments are very welcome so please do chime in with any recommendations of your own. Check back each Monday for a new set, and click here for past entries.
From the opening install-screen origami lesson, Heavy Rain is an engrossing experience full of twists and turns. Even where it falters as a game (the controls are awful) it succeeds as a filmic, interactive experience which makes you care about the fate of the characters and feel responsible for the events that befall them.
Heavy Rain revolves around a spate of child killings by the Origami Killer and follows four people whose lives are directly impacted by the murders. Ethan is the father who fears his child is to be the next victim, Madison an investigative journalist, Norman is our FBI agent and Scott is a private detective. You come to control all of them at different junctures of the narrative, and they may all perish short of the ending, depending on your actions. Death may be caused by a player choice which irrecoverably sends the story in a certain, fatal direction or, more disappointingly, because you were too slow off the mark with a QTE.
Heavy Rain is filled with player-led decisions. These choices are not black and white and are rarely morality based, and an auto-save function means they are often irreversible. It wasn't until I spoke with friends who had also completed it that I came to appreciate the weight of seemingly insignificant decisions, and how they could lead to endings unrecognizable to my own. That each of our experiences could be so different is, in my mind, Heavy Rain's defining achievement.
Casting is crucial in such a character driven game, and thankfully Quantic Dream got it spot on. The film noir visuals and atmospheric score make it feel more film than game, though the clumsy controls do bring it back down to earth and remind you that, despite its cinematic aspirations, it is a game.
Heavy Rain is bleak and imperfect, but more importantly it’s involving and unafraid to take risks. Whatever your opinion of Quantic Dreams' thriller, it is guaranteed to get you talking in ways that scant few other games ever will.