Monday, June 20, 2011

My experience with Heavy Rain

When I played Heavy Rain for the first time, I felt impressed by the actual role-playing aspect. Oh, I'm a father, I should help with the groceries. I even got nervous when I couldn't find the dinner plates. This went on, except I grew frustrated by the limitations of the game. The game wouldn't let me leave a house to avoid killing a guy. I couldn't role play too far out of character; that option wasn't given.

I can chalk up lack of choices to realistic game limitations (you can only have so many branches), but the game did something I found unforgivable. My characters made decisions off-screen, without my knowledge. I felt this betrayed some unwritten rule of adventure/role-playing games: that when you play this game, your character's world is what you make for them. The ending is kind of like if you turned on a Zelda game and suddenly Link had betrayed Zelda and the world has ended. That just doesn't happen. I appreciate that the developers are trying to change what games can be, but I didn't feel that it was fun.

Part of the game asks how far I'm willing to go for someone I love. Well, my character will do anything in a virtual world where he doesn't get caught! Everything looks real, yet it's still in this weird game universe where you can do crazy things and not get in trouble. So the question of what I'm willing to do for someone I love turns into this meaningless quest-fulfillment (especially when I'm screaming inside, "go to the police, dumbbutt!"). I cannot deny the game's ability to creep me out or get me tense, but upon further reflection, my intense emotional reactions seem stupid.

Lastly, I was annoyed at how they seemed to try to fit every adult piece of content they could into this game. I guess I get tired of "gritty" games after a while; all the shooting, illegal drugs, swearing, and that one scene with the creepy guy were not my cup of tea. I know, it was rated M, what did I expect? I think I just associate "mature" with artful discussion of adult matters and not just reveling in them, but I think that most M-rated games are not really concerned with a serious discussion of adult issues. I wonder: if the game had been more carefree would I have enjoyed it more?