So I finally managed to play a sneak peek of one of my 2010’s most wanted today after downloading and installing the Heavy Rain demo. I booted up the demo with a big cheesy grin and hope that the hype surrounding the title, wouldn’t spoil what I was about to witness in front of me. Boy was I wrong or what! As soon as the demo started I was blown away by what I was seeing before my eyes. The sheer quality of the game is mind blowing it really is. The attention to detail, the way everything moves, the subtle effects, the lighting and overall it’s clear that the developer, Quantic Dream has put a lot and I mean a lot, of effort into making this game feel like you are part of the experience rather than just playing it.
You start off with a training style game which gets you familiarized with the controls and movements of the character you play. On-screen prompts pop up telling you what to press or do at a certain point in order to continue and it might sound very dull and boring but honestly it’s not. It works and it works really well. This isn’t your typical style controller layout here like it is with most games; this is the Heavy Rain way of doing things. R2 to walk, right stick to move your head, down then up right to open a door etc and it makes the game feel refreshing and new and after playing the demo for a long period of time, it’s something that doesn’t happen enough in video gaming in my honest opinion. Maybe other developers are frightened to use this control method or prefer using the default style control methods because so many gamers are used to this way of life when it comes to playing video games.
I’ll be totally blunt here, when Heavy Rain was announced those many months back and the way you control your character was explained, I had my doubts as I just didn’t see how it would make the game fun and engrossing to play but I was totally put in my place once I started playing the demo. I love it and from reading other comments from people that have played the demo on various other gaming mediums, the majority feel the same way as well it seems. It’s quite amazing how much it brings you into the game and makes you feel like you are a part of a cinematic masterpiece rather than just a game. It’s hard to put it in writing exactly how i feel about the way the game plays but play it and I’m sure you will know exactly what I mean.
So the demo itself, There are two levels in the demo for you to explore and try a small fragment of finding out exactly who the Origami Killer is. The first level is titled ‘Sleazy Place’ in which you play a private detective named Scott Shelby. You go to a women’s apartment in hope of finding out information about the murder of a boy. You enter the women’s apartment to ask a few questions regarding if she knew anything about what might of happened, any witnesses etc but she doesn’t want to talk which is totally understandable after losing her son in that way. You have a few choices here, probe for a few answers or leave. I decided to ask more about her son etc and try to find answers. At the end, just before leaving you place your business card on her dining room table and explain that if there is anything that can help, to give you a call. As you are leaving a man crosses your path on the hall landing before knocking on the women’s door. Once inside the man starts to attack the mother of the murdered son and you have two choices. Leave or stay to help the women. I decided to help. Once you have kicked your way in through the front door, you become involved in an altercation with this guy and it turns into a full blown fight. This is when you have to correspond with the on screen prompts. Punches thrown, items thrown and if you miss the on screen prompts you come off worse. It’s very clever the way it works and in the end, due to me missing a few prompts, my character was a bleeding mess that looked like he had gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. It was like being in a film. Fast paced and made me feel like i was in the scene rather than just playing it. Fantastic stuff. Once that’s finished, you limp out of the women’s apartment and the scene ends.
The second scene (level) is called, Crime Scene and you play FBI agent, Norman Jayden. You have to investigate an area by a train track where a body of a child was found. Your character has special glasses and gloves which help you to find clues by scanning the area. There isn’t a great deal to do in this scene but it’s more of a tutorial into how your characters glasses and gloves work and getting used to what the items do in helping you etc. The glasses are a very cool idea as you scan an area and then proceed to look at the item that the glasses has picked up and it tells you more information about the item that was found like who it belongs to, why is it there and criminal records about said item. It’s really a clever part of the game and I can imagine it being a great item further on in the full game when you get to use it to its full potential. One thing I will say about this level though is the fantastic atmosphere it creates. It really is something special and actually feels like a crime scene rather than a computer generated level. The rain lashes down, agents look for clues and the whole scene is a dark, dirty and just overall disgusting but this is exactly why this game has atmosphere in bucket loads.
So my impressions are over for the Heavy Rain demo and to recap, I found the game to be a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to play more of the story once the full game is released. I was really shocked at how damn brilliant this game is. Yes it’s only the demo I’ve played but I know one thing, this game is going to be a special one if what I’ve seen so far is anything to go by. Breathtaking quality, atmosphere by the bucket load and just a joy to play.
The demo of Heavy Rain is released on The Playstation Store on Thursday 11th February and the full game is released on Friday 26th February (u.k).