The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
There is a saying: The most dangerous place in the world is
between a mother and her child.Perhaps this is
because people unfortunate (or dumb) enough to place themselves been
between a father and his child never survived.
People may prefer to
think they’ll get all ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ or ‘Taken’
on someone in that situation. And, people may fancy themselves as the type who
can adamantly abide by the Thomas Paine level of principality and
consequences, or if the situation called for it, would gather up their
“people huntin’ hat” and carry their own personal copy of Catcher in
the Rye. The reality of it is very, very different, however.
is that people often espouse the concept and practices of pacifism without considering that
pacifists don’t make pacifism possible. They would rather forego their principles for the sake of societal appeasement.
There comes a time in certain
situations that we stumble upon an internal switch that doesn’t turn on,
but turns off. The effects of that disconnect is as unique as it is
unknown, for anyone affected.Heavy Rain, pushes to
redefine, or at the very least question, how the manner of storytelling in
video games will impact players. Nobody should say there’s no replay value in the game and even though players will
know how it starts and generally how it ends after they play it to
finish one time, what happens in between is the bigger part of the
mystery because a variance in those events shape the end in a number of
ways.In Heavy Rain, the impact of the events flip these switches
in a moment. Not in a slow series of pushes and pulls, in an instantaneous irregular fracture of the moral fibers in each of the
characters and their resolve to do what they feel needs to be done.
Enter the question: How far would you go to save someone you love?
of the stronger underlying points in the game is laid before players in
the birthday party prologue for Ethan’s son Jason. After
being called inside for dinner, Jason’s younger brother Shaun runs
upstairs and finds their pet bird, Merlin has died. Shaun blames himself for the
death as his father consoles him by stating “Sometimes things happen even if we don't want them to." Shaun states that he feels,
“It’s not fair”. Ethan holds him and says “I know… I know…”It
is here massive appeal for the game lies, waiting to make a
calculated pounce like a hungry pride of lions on baby
antelope too weak to keep up with the rest of the panicked herd. Things
happen quickly and players are forced to commit to their choices through
the entire game no matter the path chosen or resisted. The entire game
is a proverbial ‘point of no return’ from start to finish. Perhaps
the greatest advantage Heavy Rain has over many other games is that it rests comfortably within a niche genre using strong story
devices, familiar yet fresh control mechanics and does this all without making
itself obscure or abstract.
Dubbed “Interactive Drama”, Heavy Rain uses
controls based on context sensitive quicktime events. The approach isn’t
new; take for example the classic and obscure coin-op “Space Ace” and
“Dragon’s Lair” games. Both games required input from the user as the
story progressed automatically. The objective was to enter commands on
cue in the order given; a really advanced and entertaining “Simon Says”.
Heavy Rain builds upon this mechanic by adding extreme
diversity in the form of more than a single vantage point and avenues of
approach within each vantage point while consistently working each
character to the same goal along a cohesive and gripping story.
QuanticDream applied the same methods within Indigo Prophecy
successfully but Heavy Rain contains a more somber chain
of events and doesn’t focus on the characters so much as it focuses on the
events in their lives that shapes the characters.
This is another theme in
the game that resides outside of the game itself – a silent breaching of
the 4th wall by example. Through the course of the game
players will undoubtedly feel as though certain actions no matter how
they’re played out, make little sense if any at all.
characters see this, feel that, or act a certain way when it would seem
normal to the player for them to behave differently? Because things only have to
make sense for the particular situation and to the characters
themselves; players aren’t controlling what their cards are, only how they’re
played. Remember that these are ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, thus the rules of 'normal' do not fully apply.The success of this concept is in the succinct manner the
players' mind is taken off how mundane the actions truly are. Heavy Rain
offers more than one way to complete a task without revealing beforehand
what tasks have an effect on another or without laying all actionable options on the table; players have to think about things rudimentary and ubiquitous, evidenced important later.Eschewing traditional concepts of ‘win’
and ‘lose’, Heavy Rain grants players the ability in the course of the
game to shape defining climactic moments. If at any point one of the
characters die, there will be an unanswered question, but it doesn’t
constitute a ‘loss’ nor a ‘win’ – only a version of the ‘end’.The
bird in the opening act is an important device. Birds are regarded as
free creatures – ‘free as a bird’. Sometimes the phrase ‘like a caged
bird’ is used to describe imprisonment (a motif in the classic novel
“The Awakening” by Kate Chopin and "Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton). In the case of Heavy Rain, the bird
dying alludes to the idea that while that bird was relatively as free as
it was caged, invisible and external forces effect an outcome. A cage is a controlled environment and as such, controlling it requires some responsibility of the controller.
When the bird died, what makes it unfair? Should the dead bird now be
considered free? It was unfair because Shaun didn't want the bird to die
and while he knew that he didn't directly cause the death, he felt
responsible because like most people, things make sense when they can account for what is
around them. If players take time to notice, the pet bird and the Spanish
Pajarita on the game case cover are representative of one another.
To take this a bit further, the Spanish Pajarita with the four
characters in the backdrop also symbolize a unified imprisonment. Each
character is in some way controlled by their own vices. Madison and with her insomnia can only sleep in low rent motels, Jayden with his
addiction to Tropacaine (a cocaine derivative with higher toxicity but
less effect), Ethan and his depression and anxiety, Shelby and his
drinking, and even though Lauren and Blake, while not a main characters, were slave to certain lifestyles or mindsets.The
title “Heavy Rain” is important to understanding the game as well and
goes a bit beyond the situations that gave the “Origami Killer” motive. Events happen as tiny drops that add up over time. At first
there’s not much to them and each
event happening to a different person they would be easy to handle.
But the events happen to a small handful of interconnected people and
build up pressure over a short amount of time and the characters become more entangled. With each passing day
these events occur harder and faster. The characters' survival isn't
essential to the ending, or at least an ending. They're merely vessels
for the “who” and “what” and the depth of ending hinges on them to some
degree, but will the end be ‘good’? The answer largely depends upon a
subjective definition of terms. “Good” and “Bad”, particularly in the
ending isn’t definable in a way that most players would assume to look
for them or cast an opinion of them without having experienced the game.
“Good” can be manipulated in a fluid sense (not dissimilar to a sense
that water and air are fluid), and take the shape of what contains them;
character actions are influenced by the events, their environments, and
the depth of explorations allotted by time which are in turn directed by
order of operation. However, all of this is circular and complex, rich
in the unfolding and very hard to calculate as things happen.
player wants to have a certain outcome, they must shape the container
and not the contained – once there’s an understanding of what events
effect another, the challenge to recreate a process of the story and
obtain an ending that the player would like to see instead of the one
that simply ‘happens’ as is the case with the first play of the game.
Not long ago, debates were
held across blogosphere concerning video games and art, and classic
literature or poems and use of as source material. Heavy Rain poignantly
evidences that games can contain a high degree of genuine literary art
without having to resort to the use of borrowed material that gets
bastardized for the sake of overlapping mass appeal and an ‘all mighty’
temporary industry divisive dollar. While everyone may not enjoy the
macabre story, it’s not going to rest in the ‘grey area’ of opinions either.
[note - this is a repost due to some issues with the title and validity of the link resulting from it]