Rather than discuss more flagrant bulletins, I wanted to take note of the near completion of this upcoming “collaboration”. I use that term in a means of procurring a more elaborate sense of idea about what this title is and has the potential to be.
is it a game? Some would argue so, but from what I have read, seen and filtered through my own cortex of quick judgements, I feel Heavy Rain is to be more of an exploration of human choice and response. While driving the narrative of a serial killer with a fascination for paper cuts, HR peaks my curiosty by restructuring a “game over” screen into a twist of the player’s imagination. When your character falls, you’re not berated with bloody letters or a taunting Joker exclaiming “you done wrong boy”. Instead, we must interpret that sequence into a proverbial “let’s tell the story a little differently”. From there, you finish the tale without your protagonist in tow. This mechanic, lofty and infinitely rewarding as it may be, bears the dilemma of accounting for a near limitless number of narrative variations that depend solely on how the player wants his experience to be. In a way, HR is attempting to be the first game that is truly customizable to the player’s free will; the final frontier of video game narration I’d say.
My knee-jerk remarks mostly fell within the realm of skepticism, but we gamers will always initially fear what we cannot define. When I connect this idea with the mechanic of choosing the character’s actions and reactions, the blurry picture started to take much needed focus. I was almost stunned to notice my sheer giddeyness when I first saw the character action tree in progress. With several options constantly floating in and out of the character’d mind—and with such a huge spectrum of topics and thoughts, many of which don’t even relate to the scenario at hand—I was impressed at how well it mirrors one’s own mental processes on even the most mundane afternoon. If I were to try and create a tree that encompassed all of my thoughts and opinions on any given day, I’d probably lose track somewhere between watching the Avatar preview for the 100th time and looking at more Asian porn (though, I’ll admit I’d like to see someone try and develop a program that can encompass all that). I cannot honestly admit that this title will achieve instant acclaim in the eyes of critics and committed fanboys, but I hope that many reviewers will take a step back and look at what this game is, rather than what it is not. Video games that take such bold leaps in any field have rarely climbed the ranks of video game greatness, but they were the forerunners of the titles we cling to so dearly, and I think HR will fall victim to this as well.
But, then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing…unless you’re a console exclusive…oops.
See you in the next level,