Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer Impressions

Quantic Dream walks us through the gameplay of this highly anticipated PlayStation 3 exclusive.

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It was during E3 of 2006 when French developer Quantic Dream, creators of Indigo Prophecy and Omikron, showed a technical demo titled "Heavy Rain: The Casting." The five-minute clip showed a virtual actress stepping into a bland room to give a rather convincing monologue to show off her acting skills. What was impressive was that we got to see the wide range of emotions that the developers had been able to pull off in real time with this actress. What began as a simple story about her falling in love turned into a dramatic performance where she went from being heartbroken to vindictive. We saw the tears stream down her face as she held a gun to her head, but then with hate-filled eyes she swiftly turned it to the camera. This short demo left people incredibly curious and excited to see what Quantic Dream had in store for the game Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer, especially as to how the game would play, given that the monologue didn't offer anything more than an audition tape. During E3 2008, we were able to get a peek at what the gameplay would be like with an entirely different storyline, which was made specifically for the presentation so that the real story would not be spoiled.

This is Madison, the heroine of the demo.

Behind closed doors, writer and director David Cage gave us an overview of what to expect for Heavy Rain. When Quantic Dream originally showed "The Casting," it was meant to be an internal technical demo that would explore the possibility of re-creating a virtual actress with the emotional dimensions that only a real actress could portray. Like Indigo Prophecy, rather than being in a genre that has already been defined, Heavy Rain is a different sort of adventure, one in which you control the story with your actions. Cage describes it as an emotional experience with mature themes in which action and narration work closely together. You aren't just the actor but also the writer and the director. The goal is to have you genuinely care about what happens to the characters by immersing you with a technique called bending stories. Cage explained that, although storytelling is linear, interactivity isn't, so his solution is to create a story that is analogous to a rubber band, a situation in which you can stretch and deform the narrative but the backbone of the story will always be there and won't change. The way the story is told will change, with invisible boundaries so that you feel that everything is in your control.

Before the demo began, we had a good look at the menu screen. The menu zoomed in on the eyes of a woman who resembled Mary Smith from "The Casting" demo. She filled the screen with her eyes as she glanced furtively left and right. It was a bit unsettling and rather hypnotic, but the detail was exquisite because the eyes looked so real. Cage explained that they created a technology to motion-capture the micromovement on the eyes of a real actress. The details on the skin and the shadows were also impressive because we saw the blemishes and inconsistencies of the skin, not an airbrushed close-up of an actress who no longer has pores. The graphics have improved significantly from the last demo, and by looking into Mary's eyes, it was as if you could see into her thoughts. The chilling piano theme playing in the background added to the mystery as we eagerly waited for the presentation to start.

We first saw a journalist named Madison as she rode a motorcycle in the rain, headed toward the house of a taxidermist. Several women have disappeared, and he has been linked as a possible suspect. Madison is only interested in getting the scoop on whether this man turns out to be the true origami killer or not. Once she arrived at the house, Madison stepped onto the sidewalk and we began to see how the controls work. Rather than using the analog sticks to maneuver her, the R2 trigger will let her move forward and the left analog can be used to move her head. It's difficult to think of this game within the traditional conventions. As the player, you are there to progress the story as you see fit, and options will be available to you as they come up. Similar to Indigo Prophecy, icons will appear in the lower right portion of the screen to indicate what you can do, whether it's moving the analog stick or tapping buttons. Madison moved forward to look in the mailbox, but whether she puts her hand in slowly or backs off is entirely up to you. You'll be in control of how the animation unfolds, and there is never any load time. The house appeared to be a more run-down version of a typical suburban home. The weather was dreary and Madison was wet from the rain. Her movements were realistic, and when left standing idle for a while, she fidgeted.

When Madison approached the door, she was prompted with options to either knock or ring the doorbell. Using the Sixaxis controller, you can also select what you want to say, given that Madison will have different thoughts come up. This thought interface will give you the pros and cons of the situation. It doesn't tell you what to do or not to do, and it's contextual, so it will change depending on where and when you are in the story.

We watched as Madison wandered into the backyard and noticed that the kitchen window was slightly ajar. Madison kicked some nearby barrels into place so that she could get into the house. Before she entered, a couple of thoughts went on in her head that you can listen to or just move on. Once inside the house, Madison walked around the living room, and we noticed that she could interact with several things in the environment. She could sit on the couch, check out the fireplace, or go through the door to the garage. We were told that you can also explore in narrow spaces and never have to worry about your character getting stuck. In the garage we saw a trail of blood and noticed that there was a garage switch on the left. She headed upstairs and we immediately noticed that the floorboards were creaking. Things started to pick up when Madison discovered a dead body in the tub and then stumbled into a room in which several women had been stuffed.

The rain, the lighting and the colors help set the mood for this short thriller.

Of course, that was the perfect time for the taxidermist to return, and the screen split to show the taxidermist on the left, headed into his home, and Madison on the right as she tried to figure out what to do. The music also picked up here to drive the gravity of the situation as Madison tiptoed slowly across the hall to try to sneak out through the garage. Staying quiet, Madison got out of the house by using the garage switch, and she quickly jumped onto her motorcycle, which took a bit of button mashing before it would start. She finally got her helmet on and sped away. After this scenario, Cage explained that this was only one possible story. Like it would in the actual game, the next scenario would take this information and continue to tell the story based on what had been done. Considering that this demo wasn't following the actual storyline of Heavy Rain, we were brought back to the scene in which the taxidermist returned to his house, but this time what followed was completely different. The taxidermist heard Madison upstairs and came looking for her. We were told that there are as many as 20 to 30 hiding places in the house. As Madison hid behind a door, a sequence of buttons appeared that needed to be held to simulate the same uncomfortable feeling of being stuck. She moved to another hiding spot, at which point she came face to face with the creep. He attacked, and Madison fought back with an object that she grabbed off of the nightstand. She ran downstairs and tripped, subsequently heading to the front door to find it locked. Then she ran to the kitchen window, which wouldn't open anymore. She finally made her way to the garage, flipped the switch, and ran to her bike with the murderer close behind. She frantically tried to start her motorcycle, and when it finally did, she took off and left her helmet behind.

This was a much more intense, action-filled scenario, the kind in which you feel like you're in serious danger, but these were only two of the possible scenarios that a player could have gone through. We were told that the player controlling Madison had messed up numerous times but still managed to escape. You could have killed the villain in various ways; you could have stayed hidden and called the police. Madison could also be killed, and the fascinating part is that the game would not be over. Events would merely continue with that information taken into account. Cage was tight-lipped about any further details as to how this would work or how things would continue, but we do know that there is no game over in Heavy Rain.

The taxidermist is not happy that there is an intruder in his house.

We also know that there are 60 scenes in Heavy Rain, and each one will have different gameplay and narrative. The overall theme will be dark, given that it's a thriller. Cage tells us that the game will be full of twists and turns and will include many surprises. He says that it will offer a new way of interacting with a new kind of storytelling that extends beyond the cutscenes and never-ending dialogue. In this new genre, it's not about your reaction and how you move the controller, but about what decisions you make as a player to make the story unfold. The experience will be different each time.

From what we've seen so far, this is shaping up to be a game that will keep gamers talking until the shipping date. Quantic Dream has been very careful about keeping the story secret, and from this latest demo, the story and experience can only get better. In our brief adventure with Madison, we already felt like we were a part of the story in the way that the action, dialogue, and sound were handled. Visually, the characters come strikingly close to looking real, not just in terms of the graphics but also in how their movements and voice acting enhance that sense of realism. Even though it is a single-player game, watching the events unfold is just as intense and exciting for an audience.

There is no release date yet, but we're keeping a close eye on this PlayStation 3 exclusive.

Discussion

273 comments
magnus500
magnus500

I'm getting as soon as it comes out!

Fhenrhyr
Fhenrhyr

It looks interesting, like Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy). That game looked really like a movie and this one seems to be a whole revolutionary thing.

guitardude1243
guitardude1243

I agree, hope I'm reading this article completely wrong because it'll be the best looking bad game on the market.

12345678ew
12345678ew

sounds like the prettiest, but most boring video game on earth. if i understood that right, you don't control where you go. you just tell her/him when to go, and you can press a few buttons that keep changing their effect along the way. that sounds stupid to me, and i'm a total cow.

dark_surge
dark_surge

An article I just read said it was going to be PS3 exclusive and that, "Heavy Rain is only possible on the PS3". Going on to say "We used all the SPU's". If you look at newer screenshots you can see how real they got everything to look. It's actually kind of creepy sometimes (in a good way) Info from NowGamer

evilkear
evilkear

its more than likely going to be a ps3 exclusive, since it is being published by SCEA, sounds very detailed hope they pull it off.

brennan7777
brennan7777

My brain must be broken. Everyone is anticipating this, yet i am unable to understand it. Can someone please tell me what the gameplay is all about cuz i am very confused.

ganga_
ganga_

i agree silent_king, i hope to see this one for pc aswell. just played indigo prophecy for the third or fourth time some weeks ago, its such a great game

Silent_King
Silent_King

Not to offend any PS3 players, but I hope it is allowed to be also on either PC or XBOX360. I know they probably won't, but its a possible hope. If this game is ANYTHING like Indigo Prophesy, it will #%@% rule.

t3hninj4
t3hninj4

This game looks promising, but I'm much more interested in EA's upcoming Chocolate Rain adaptation.

NoctisLucis
NoctisLucis

well i play omicron and indigo prophesy so im shure this is going to be a blast .

unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

katosepe321 the way they probably would do it is make some other characters to play as but you made a good point

NixiePixel
NixiePixel

This is the future. I can't wait.

residude
residude

looks intereseting definately very different from anything else i own atm, will give this a look :)

beekayjay
beekayjay

I thinkthis is going to be a niche title...hopefully very strong, but a niche, cult classic nonetheless...the gameplay style is more of an evolution of Dragon's Lair, or dare I say Sewer Shark, and that type of gameplay, no matter how much evolved it is over the basics, never has mass appeal. However, if Quantic can pull of at least 75% of the freedom of choice that they promise, I would definitely consider buying this.

souljahofman
souljahofman

i read about this game in 06. its 09 now. please just release it. its a good concept. please let it turn out good.

Rattlesnake_8
Rattlesnake_8

Very interesting concept. I just hope the end result is as good as im imagining it.

crix3
crix3

looks very interesting, i want more info soon though

chapnzaba
chapnzaba

Whoa that was amazing. All the decisions you can make, and no game over. Wow.

mhsdrake
mhsdrake

Im still a little confused but I will definately be keeping a close eye on this game it looks very interesting...

guardofdead
guardofdead

harry_james_pot Posted Aug 30, 2008 10:32 pm GMT at first i said that im gonna get a ps3, but after i knew that gta4 pc will be released i changed my mind, i don`t think that heavy rain is going to stay exclusive forever. __________________________________________ this is were you are VERY wrong, heavy rain is designed for the ps3 cell and would not work on the 360, also quantam siad they can only do it on the ps3..

thedevildweller
thedevildweller

If this is going to be a PS3 exclusive, i'm defenetily going to keep my eyes on it. The game does sound awesome. I do love Fahrenheit (also called Indigo Prophecy) and hopefully the game will be somewhat the same if not better. Looking forward to more Info...

klawan
klawan

Looks great! Waiting for more info...

tmcmahon-08
tmcmahon-08

man this looks soo awsum. cant wait to learn more

wroledan
wroledan

I hope they keep this a ps3 exclusive because we all know that this will suck in xbox360,we all know the capabilities of ps3 in terms of blu-ray,just look at MGS4's grafix and content,I just hope this game has a lot of fun factor and replay value and not only focus on story telling

catach
catach

I think QD should port it to X360...heheheh... unless they got a huge $ to don't do it... anyway, as others said, the PC versions will make console exclusives an illusion.

Katosepe321
Katosepe321

i just hope this one doesn't have a really bad ending like Indigo Prophecy. The bending storyline thing is AWESOME though! It was great in IP and I can't wait to see it even more advanced now. I'm most interested to see how this thing works where the main character can die and the game doesn't end... How does that work??

Katosepe321
Katosepe321

i just hope this one doesn't have a really bad ending like Indigo Prophecy. The bending storyline thing is AWESOME though! It was great in IP and I can't wait to see it even more advanced now. I'm most interested to see how this thing works where the main character can die and the game doesn't end... How does that work??

Lord_Kantor
Lord_Kantor

This game will be a legend. Unless they stuff it up and get a 10fps frame rate and loads of game crashing bugs (TFU anyone?)

SUPERMANJOSEPH
SUPERMANJOSEPH

mastiffchild your soo soo right. its only natural that developers had a shaky start in terms of gettin to grips with the ps3 but as time passes developers are making good use of the system, heavy rain being a prefect example. im waiting for final fantasy on ps3 and vs on ps3 theres soo many games coming out on ps3 that i want so buying it has been a good choice, the 360 is a great console but when games like heavy rain are coming out on ps3 i cant help but side with sony.

mastiffchild
mastiffchild

I wouldn't bet on that kind of thing happening too often from now on HJP. I happily got rid of my 360 to go to PS3 last year because the exclusives practically always go to PC(which is usually better for me)but I think the days of Sony losing their single plat third parties may be nearly over. since MGS4 there's been a tightening of resolve over this and the PS3 exclusives are becoming much stronger than previously as devs get to grips with the system. LBP. Resistance 2 and, maybe, Killzone can all add to this trend and I see Heavy Rain staying firmly within Sony's compass. Square Enix have possibly been the last big "defection" and even then they had to keep Sony sweet by letting them retain FFXIII Vs as an exclusive-and we might yet see the first game where either PS3 or 360 get to look better than the other one with FFXIII itself. No other multi plats have dared to offend either Microsoft or Sony in this regard but with FF's popularity in Japan and the fact that they'll be porting the PS3 version and not the other way round, to 360 I wouldn't bet on the 360 version being the good one. That's if they have the guts to upset their new friends-no matter now many discs it's on.

harry_james_pot
harry_james_pot

at first i said that im gonna get a ps3, but after i knew that gta4 pc will be released i changed my mind, i don`t think that heavy rain is going to stay exclusive forever.

BleakCorner
BleakCorner

The prospect of these different choices is interesting - I'm looking forward to this game although weirdly enough, besides the other graphical changes, it doesn't seem like the lipsync improved that much since that casting demo. But maybe that's just that short trailer.

xBig__Bossx
xBig__Bossx

OMG. it almost seems like this game was made 4 me. I love games where your choices effect this & that, & games with a deep story, & they definitly go hand in hand.Of course thats not the only reason but it jus seems too good 2 be true. I think this is the game ive been secretly yearning for my whole life, but like some said it could be a failure, of course anything could be but this really seems like it could fall flat on its face.But lets hope not

otanikun
otanikun

I smell awesomeness on the horizon *sniff sniff*

killzone_gamer
killzone_gamer

This could be an epic game, or a beautiful failiure.

King_Wii
King_Wii

I'm interested... we will have to see what comes of this.

danopix
danopix

This looks like something that could be really cool. Or could be horribly lousy because they over reached.

ForeverSparda
ForeverSparda

Wow I love these kinds of games an this absolutly looks revolutionary......."SOLD"

ScionofEntropy
ScionofEntropy

This game looks awesome. It really, really does. I think I'll need to get it.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

it sounds revolutionary in its storytelling and in the choices the gameplay offers you. i can't wait to get it.

shockg2000
shockg2000

i dont know about you guys, but as a gamer I just get a feeling about certain games when reading about them before they even come out. Its liking knowing which games are gonna deliver. Heavy Rain is one of them. I was hip to this game the first time I seen the trailer back in 06. I still have the trailer on my PS3. Plus Indigo Prophecy was great. This crew of people are special and are very creative when it comes to storytelling. This is not a rent and go buy game (In my opinion). For some it will be. I will have this game on day one. Look at it like this. Indigo Prophecy like game meets PS3. Bigger and Better game. And the rest is history. Game on. Peace

PsychoLord13
PsychoLord13

If it's even better than Indigo Prophecy I'm definitely going to get this game

Darkclaw007
Darkclaw007

Very cool to see some quality content on the horizon. This game looks promising (and so do games like Mirror's Edge, Little Big Planet, Killzone 2 and Fallout 3.

auron_16
auron_16

i might get it, but im gonna check reviews first

CamiKitten
CamiKitten

I'm actually pretty interested in owning this. I don't really own too many games for my ps3 console, and hopefully this fullfills all of the ideals it presents to make this an extraordinary game. I'm not a huge fan of the thriller based play, but with the total interaction sequences, it'll be a welcome challange for me to try. ^^

josscarloe
josscarloe

Visuals look good, lets hope its as intriguin as they claim it to be, and that it really immerses u to explore and replay it lots of times...

Solid_Cobra
Solid_Cobra

looks interesting, but I'm not ready to hype it as the greatest thing ever. I need more information on how the actual gameplay works. Is there an actual combat system or is this game just a series QTEs.