This game truly takes quick time events, and awkward gestures to a whole new level. But let's not get so far ahead of ourselves. When I bought my first PS3 system, I downloaded the demo for Heavy Rain, and I was so impressed with it, that on the next day I bought it in the first store that had it on the shelf. I started playing it, but somehow I got bored with it. This was of course before the move edition of the game came out. But later I upgraded my system with a move controller, and you can actually update your game to the move edition by downloading a free patch for it, which was unexpected. But even then it didn't feel right on my tiny 23" screen. What really changed things was when I got my 51" TV. The move edition of the game is much more immersive. In a way I'm sad that they dropped support for the move later, and not even Two Souls could utilize it.
This changed the whole move experience. By standing in front of the screen it's much easier to immerse yourself into the game. And the standing in fact makes it more realistic. I couldn't imagine playing a move game sitting down.
The story revolves around the investigation into a serial killer. During the game you get to alternate between four characters. One of them is a female photo-reporter suffering from insomnia. The second is a failing architect, who just lost one of his sons, and in turn his marriage. The third is a rookie FBI agent with a drug addiction, who is sent to aid the police investigation. And the third is a private investigator, who is also looking to collect clues about the serial killer.
Who you're controlling is not your choice, but in each scene or level, you have to take control of a specific character. Most of the time they're walking their own paths, meetings between them only occur later in the game. Which sometimes lead to some confusion, when I didn't know which one I was going to control at any given moment.
The best thing about the game, that it's truly open ended. Many characters can end up dead, and you still get a conclusion to the game. Or if you're very persistent and lucky and refuse to give up, you can save them all, but the conclusion to the story can be very different as well.
There are a lot of turning points in the game, but these are not clear choices. Instead most of the time what happens next is determined by your ability to do QTEs, or to solve puzzles. I'd need at least five or six if not more playtroughs to find all the little branches in the story. The only game I remember that was able to deliver a similar experience was the original Deus Ex.
Unfortunately the game only supports 720p, but it doesn't look as ugly as some games in 720p mode. This looks clear regardless of the resolution. But the best aspect of the game is the detail of the characters, mostly faces. I hazard that it's better than LA Noire in this regard. And since they use a different method, the faces don't come off the heads like in that game.
One personal aspect to me is that one of the characters, the photo-reporter, is very similar to one of my girlfriends from way back when. If I didn't know better I'd say they based it on her. The looks, the style, even the hobbies photography and bikes are dead on.
So personal history aside, to me the most questionable aspect of the game is the actual gameplay. Almost everything is done through QTEs. So I don't feel in control, just as a guiding hand. Assisting the characters, but not actually controlling them, just nudging them left and right. In slow non-action scenes sometimes you have to press 3-4 buttons simultaneously while doing some gesture with the controller. Some of the instructions seemed downright impossible to do, for a human being, with five fingers. Action scenes are made up by the already mentioned QTEs, where you have to be very quick to react, in early levels you get 3-4 chances to miss, before the QTE is failed. But later towards the end. and in important scenes, one mistake and you're already viewing one of the negative outcomes to that particular scene. And since I'm a maximalist I kept trying again at times. Which was hard on my nerves. I admit to throwing the sixaxis controller to the ground a few times during the game. If you want to retry a scene you have to be very quick to quit the game before it actually saves over your progress with the bad result. Doing this might sound like cheating, but I couldn't have lived with myself if I didn't save some of the characters, or achieve a desired outcome in some scenes. I failed 90% of the QTEs on the first try anyway so I said this wouldn't do. The most annoying thing is when the camera doesn't pick up your gesture. Or when in a slow scene the game show that you still have to move few inches to a direction, but if you move another inch the move gets out of the viewing angle of the camera, which results in failing the whole sequence.
I think half of the failures in quick time events are not due to me not reacting in time, but due to the system not recognizing my move, or not recognizing it as I intended it to be.
But these "misunderstandings" are not limited to the move, but also happen when you have control of a character and have to move using the analog stick on the controller, many times he would start fumbling in a very different direction than I wanted to go.
The story is being built up very neatly. You get more and more clues as time passes. Until finally the big picture forms. And here the big picture really makes sense in retrospect, there are small clues to it in the entire game. The the ending should have been longer, and should have given the chance for all still living characters to get closure.
In style and atmosphere the game is very similar to LA Noire, but it gives a wholly different gaming experience.
- Nice graphics, despite being only 720p
- Movie like experience
- Great story from beginning to end
- Perfect atmosphere
- The characters are not black and white, everyone has their flaws and virtues, some good guys are bigger jerks than some bad guys.
- Extremely long loading times, it reminded me of the C64 without a turbo cartridge.
- It doesn't give you a chance to replay failed QTEs
- Control hardships
- Maybe a bit too depressive
graphics/realization: 7/10 characters are beautiful, but some backgrounds are very weak, camera movements are sometimes awkward
gameplay/controls: 7/10 I have no problems with it apart from when it does something completely different than I Intended.
Overall impression: 9/10
I want more like this