Heavy Rain Hands-on Preview

The cautionary tale(s) of Scott Shelby. VideoGamesDaily dissects a pre-release copy of Quantic Dream’s dark, daring PS3 adventure.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, December 14, 2009

I quietly exit, but the fun’s not over yet. Halfway down the corridor, Shelby gapes like a winded boar. The camera tumbles sideways with him against the wall, and control prompts shudder into existence at his side (the shuddering is literal – one of the ways Quantic Dream depicts extremes of emotion is by distorting the interface itself). I try one, flicking the stick right. Shelby roots inside his jacket. I try another. He paws at another pocket. I try a third – and he finally discovers the inhaler, drags it to his lips and sucks in jets of medication, courtesy of R1. In the meantime a heavyset skinhead in leather swaggers past and down to Lauren’s room without so much as a glance at the stricken private dick, bangs on the woodwork and forces his way in.

Stabilised, I trot Shelby back down the corridor to play knight in shining armor. The door yields to a thrust of the Sixaxis, and the rowdy would-be client, “Troy”, steps up to take his beating. The ensuing QTE is expertly directed, the consequences of correct, incorrect or mistimed inputs settling naturally into the chain of swings and lunges.

All mouth and no trousers.

All mouth and no trousers.

I let a few button prompts slip past to preserve the illusion of Shelby’s declining fitness, but not enough to stop him giving the other chap a thoroughly sound kicking. Mr Muscles flees. Lauren is unhurt, though much of her apartment is in pieces. Her cautious thanks suggests that leaving my contact details in hope of a second, more revealing conversation may not have been a totally fruitless gesture.

It’s far from a decisive experience, but some measure of catharsis has been achieved. The bad guy has been chased off, the girl saved, and there’s the strong possibility that she will make a more significant contribution to Shelby’s investigation later. Moreover, “The Sleazy Place” is cinematically “sealed”, well-fitted, every action, camera angle or line of dialogue squaring up neatly against the next. The chapter has a formidable momentum, and only the most perverse of players would wish to kick against the current, to reload in the hopes of “perfecting” it.

But I want to see how deep the pretence of non-linearity goes, how far Quantic bossman David Cage’s “rubber band” of interactive storytelling will stretch. Just how fallible is Mr Scott Shelby, PI? How fallible will Heavy Rain let him be? And so a few hours later I pay the Sleazy Place a second visit, then a third, then a fourth. Only this time, I’m playing to lose. More specifically, I’m playing to die.

24-style inset cutaway shots harken back to Quantic's name-making Fahrenheit.

24-style inset cutaway shots harken back to the Quantic's name-making Fahrenheit.

Striding magisterially out of grim autumn weather, I ignore the clerk and step smartly to the stairs. Reaching the hallway, I try the nearest door. No answer save the muffled yelps and grunts of the occupant earning her keep. I try the next. The game switches briefly to the perspective of somebody scrutinising Shelby through the fish-eye peephole. I try the next. Nothing is audible. And so on till I arrive at Lauren’s door. Finding her, it seems, is your only option.

2 Responses to “Heavy Rain Hands-on Preview”

  1. Dew says:

    Great preview! I really can’t wait to get my hands on this game.

  2. DisCoM says:

    Amazing game looks stunning i will buy this game day one as i allways do if its a good exclusive ps3 game..


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