Video games have, for many, generally served as an entertaining distraction from life’s mundanity, like watching a film or reading a novel, for me though games have had far greater importance in my upbringing. My first experiences with this virtual world consisted of Sonic the hedgehog dashing frantically from one side of the screen to the other, only to be ruthlessly impeded by various, mechanical piranhas, or impatiently attempting to pass other vehicles in Micro Machines, only to fall helplessly off the side of the pool table, again! (In retrospect, I wasn’t very good was I?) Or even trying in blind expectation, to somehow reach the finishing line in Road Rash, running! Which I sadly never achieved (believe me, I tried), but as I grew older, the lack of maturity that alluded most games seemed to hold greater significance to me than I had previous noticed. Compelling story telling are my main enticement, complemented with inventive gameplay that continually sucks you in, and for me Heavy Rain not only attained this, but simultaneously granted the games industry’s story telling capabilities, with much-needed creditability.
What Heavy Rain achieved cannot be exaggerated enough. It was an ambitious project which appeared so outlandish, that it was almost destined to fail and disappear into obscurity, but it didn’t. Heavy Rains greatest asset was in the way it devised and combined a gritty narrative with a world equally as dark as the intricately enterprising story it told, that didn’t treat gamers like intellectual inferiors. The cast that it so caringly created felt truly organic, as though somewhere in this harsh world, these characters exist, especially Ethan Mars.
You become so empathetic towards the hardships that Ethan must endure in order to locate his suffering son, his struggles become your own and really embodies every parents most terrifying nightmare. Although you can’t relate to him and the increasingly obscure situations he continually finds himself tangled in directly, you can sympathise with his reactions to the dangerously meticulous scenarios that constantly thwart his progress, I mean the literal sense of sickness I felt as Ethan chillingly dismembered his finger, is a reaction I never anticipated I would feel whilst holding a Playstation controller. Even during these unrealistic concepts, Ethan remains believable, a damaged father with the weight of his past mistakes and self-deprecation, weighing so heavily on his haggard shoulders, particularly the blame he vigorously places upon his own failure as a dad, that he still firmly believes to be the reason for Jason’s demise. He encapsulates the dogged determination that we would all like to believe, we could all bravely emulate.
Another of Heavy Rains most unique features is the way in which the weather has such an imposing visage, that constantly looms over you and regularly creates an overwhelming sense of fear and desperation, but also appearing as a natural entity manifesting as a constant obstacle and even a silent enemy. Heavy Rain took an especially bold move in placing a child in the centre of such a callous position, which could be considered upsetting and more than a little tasteless, but because the story is so competently told, it has a feel more akin to a Hollywood drama, which again emphasises how much respect the developers has for gamers, by conveying captivating narratives, with more depth and respect for fans than any previous game.
What game do you think has the most compelling story?