previews\ Dec 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer - PS3 - Preview 2

Overlook nothing when it comes to Heavy Rain.

All the press leading up to this current preview of Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer tended to tell a dark and brooding tale that had a psychological edge as a detective goes on the trail of the serial killer named in the game’s title.

Previously, the game reveals revolved mostly around an FBI agent, named Jayden, who had a small drug habit, but also used high-tech gear during his investigational work (the ARI – Added Reality Interface – is a set of glasses that give a heads-up display and processes information without having to call in a crime lab team). The key to the game was to pull players into the realistic settings and emotionally charge the gaming environment with a sense of urgency. Of course, knowing that if one of the four controllable characters dies, that character, and that part of the storyline, is lost for the remainder of the game.

Imagine, then, the surprise when the preview build received didn’t open with the intense settings expected, nor was it a leap into the edge-of-the-seat action anticipated, but rather was more of an introduction to the detailed controller settings revolving around the domestic life of architect Ethan Mars. But therein lays the key to whether Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer will succeed or fail – the depth of the story and the interpersonal relationship that gamers build with the four characters central to the story. Mars’ life does spiral downward, but the simple matter of walking through the life in the early stages shows how the controller schemes will play a huge part in this game. As you approach an object, you will see options tied to the right thumbstick. Simple tasks, such as setting out plates, require a gentle touch on the thumbstick, while a quicker action translate into a faster or stronger action.

As the preview wove on, Mars’ life hits low notes until the game jumps to another character. Detective Shelby is on the trail of the Origami Killer (so named for the paper identifier left behind) and everything learned early on comes into play when you enter your first fight scene. There are buttons that have to be pressed quickly otherwise your opponent will gain an edge in the fight. These may be the hot buttons, or could involve a movement with the thumbstick. The pacing for the actions is quick and players will be hard pressed to keep up. Get behind and the fight could be lost – or worse, the character could be killed.

All four characters were introduced in the preview, with the game flopping back to evolving scenes in their lives. Yes, their paths will intersect, and yes, developer Quantic Dream does a superb job of inserting players into the lives of these characters.

There were some problems associated with the type of build that are not worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning, though, is the way the game builds upon the lives of the characters, twisting the plot and using the developers to hold players with the pacing and overall story arc.

Heavy Rain is slated for a mid-February release and if the game winds up as the previews suggest it could be a defining moment in storytelling.



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