Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer Updated Impressions

Ethan Mars is the newest character to be revealed for Heavy Rain, and we check out a new scene starring this depressed single father.

Heavy Rain director David Cage has been a busy man here at GamesCom 2009. Not only did he give a keynote address about the current state of games as a viable art form, but he also made an appearance during the Sony press conference to announce a new character in Heavy Rain, the upcoming story-heavy adventure game exclusive to the PlayStation 3. That new character was the focus of a Heavy Rain demo led by Cage earlier today. The character’s name is Ethan Mars, a man who recently lost one of his sons to a tragic death and now finds himself intertwined with the rest of the game’s cast in an effort to make sure the same doesn’t happen to his other son.

Heavy Rain is a very atypical game in the way it focuses heavily on the everyday interactions between characters that you wouldn’t expect to see in video games. You’ll often go for long stretches at a time without anything resembling action or physical threat playing out on the screen. Instead, you'll navigate your way through conversational and behavioral choices that affect the way the rest of the game’s story plays out. In the case of the demo we saw today, Ethan Mars is spending a night at home with his son Shaun with the player given a choice between playing the caring, responsible father or the distant, emotionally detached one.

At one point, Ethan was a perfectly happy guy, with a wife, two sons, and a job as an architect. Now, he’s lost one of his sons, he's no longer married, and he carries all the visible signs of a depressed, detached figure who’s unsure of what to do with his life. His son Shaun has grown fairly independent thanks to having a father like this, but the choice is still yours to continue on like this or not. In this scene, Shaun is on the couch watching cartoons. You can either go off somewhere in the house and do your own thing or strike up a conversation with Shaun about school to see how he’s doing. You can also offer to make Shaun some dinner, which later leads to the choice of whether to make him something healthy like roast chicken or something easy like microwave pizza.

The consequences that stem from your decisions don’t all have the same level of effect. You might choose not to get Shaun a snack when he returns home from school, but the result there is that he simply walks into the kitchen when you’re away and gets his own. Later on when it gets late, you might tell Shaun it’s time for bed and, after he pleads for a little more time, choose whether to insist he listen to you or let him watch TV for a bit more. If you insist, he’ll go to bed angry and stage an angry emotional outburst at you when you go up to say goodnight. If you let him watch TV for a couple more minutes, he’ll be happier with you and try to console your depression when you go up to his room. Or you can do something else entirely and let Shaun fall asleep on the couch after not talking to him at all.

All these decisions play out in a unique interface that feels like a dramatic movie complete with changing camera angles, close shots of characters faces, and split-screen views of characters when they become separated. But on top of that are stark white graphical instructions with options available to you. These include dialogue options that swirl around your character when the moment to say something comes up, as well as analog stick indicators like a box with an up arrow letting you know you can get off the couch by hitting up or another box letting you know you can open the refrigerator door to explore dinner options by hitting left. In some cases, these controls are tied closely to the emotion of a scene, like when you’re given a flashing arrow as you’re closing Shaun’s door after wishing him goodnight. If you quickly jam the stick, you’ll slam the door, which might make you seem angry. But if you gently move the stick, you’ll slowly close the door and appear much gentler.

Later in the story, Shaun goes missing, and his disappearance sets Ethan on a quest to find the Origami Killer--a notorious serial killer making headlines all over the city. The rest of the game’s four main characters are also out to get this killer, and that’s the string that pulls Ethan into the plot that connects all these people and the game as a whole. Cage says that the decisions you make early on in the game in scenes like the ones we’ve just described carry weight well into the story and affect your relationships later on in several different ways. What sort of effects might those be? It’s a bit of a mystery at the moment, but you can expect to find more details leading up to Heavy Rain’s 2010 release.

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Discussion

83 comments
Tdog567
Tdog567

This game is gonna be so awesome, just pre-ordered that and Splinter Cell: Conviction. I have no idea which one I'll play first.

wizedz
wizedz

sounds very impressive. the way the developers made the game seems like the much better way of managing the moral decision system, which is quite a slacking system nowadays

PinkSeraphrim
PinkSeraphrim

I can't wait to play this game. I stumbled upon Indigo Prophecy in a bargain bin for $20 bucks and its one of my favorite pc games of all time. Fine example of games as an art form.

felipebo
felipebo

I'll need some convincing to buy this one, there's already so many great games I'm looking out for.

Nutzzz
Nutzzz

can't wait for this one. Don't what to think of it yet, but it seems awesome!!! too bad that there isn't a specific release date yet.

harrysboy
harrysboy

Just out of curiosity i thought id check the review for one of my favorite ps2 games Fahrenheit, well then i thought why not check out the developer while I'm at it because it was so long ago and they seemed like they had a purpose in the game industry and i just wondered if they had gone out of business, but instead i found this game, this game has got me excited, this is the kind of game that should have been made 10 years ago but for some reason there was a huge gap between the point and click adventures of the 90's and to where we are today. I think this is one of the first times I've truly been relieved to have a PS3..

dandalong07
dandalong07

It would be real nice if they actually gave us a release date.

NoctisLucis
NoctisLucis

dude you have to play Indigo Prophecy the game is sick one of my all times best, besides you will get a closer idea on how this game will be, quantic dream is a diferent company and im very happy they still arround making us think you know i belive games can be much more that shooting and cuting heads off , even when thats is pretty much fun to hehe..

SuperB56
SuperB56

This game's looking better and better, I love the desicion making and the awesome controls, I also like how the controls show plenty of emotion, like anger or gentleness, I was thinking about and I think I'll try to get Indigo Prophecy, because they both look great, and they are made by the same awesome company, Quantic Dream, I am excited for 2010!

wkociol
wkociol

MAn, this game is crazy...And I already love it.

cheynz
cheynz

Thanks to all the decisions I'm sure you can play it over and over again just to see how its gonna play out

8smokes
8smokes

This game is so detailed! I love it!

forhekset
forhekset

I'm considering buying a PS3 just for this game.

Ljiggaman
Ljiggaman

the game looks really cool, and very unique, its a definite buy.

fero4real
fero4real

this game looks amazing i cant wait to play it

McGregor
McGregor

This game looks fun. Can't wait to give it a try in '10!

Articfox6
Articfox6

This game is the reason I got an Xbox! Just kidding. In all seriousness, I am becoming more eager with each new segment of information about these deep and sophisticated characters. Cant wait till 2010.

pkkgyasi
pkkgyasi

So you don't actually move around and fight and stuff you just click on the action you want

Memoryitis
Memoryitis

very intriguing, I will keep an a couple eyes on this game

PSN-SCRODE
PSN-SCRODE

this game is like a digital book.

XxlamerzxX
XxlamerzxX

Maybe i can even have lunch while playing this. That will be great!

XxlamerzxX
XxlamerzxX

That sounds interesting... I have made my decision, i will get this for sure! Just like Mirror's Edge, something new is always good! Thank you Sony!

Hitnake
Hitnake

This game is something else and I should remind that it could be only possible with PS3 .

farhad24
farhad24

ps3 destroys x360 on games like this and uncharted 2 just like it did before on kz2 , inFAMOUS and MGS4

raiding_kvatch
raiding_kvatch

This game is one third of the reason I bought a PS3. IT's looking to be even better than Fahrenheit was.

Metronome1982
Metronome1982

Yes i tottaly agree with you all,qd first game was epic and very original,from the first moment i saw this tech demo years ago i have been banging on about to my mates like a mad man,i feel sorry for them ofcourse because the went for the cheaper ring of death,which this game is not possible to achieve on,this game is true next gen in every possible sense of the word,its why the ps3 was invented for games like these,it was only a matter of time to see what the ps3 was capable of,i for one never doubted it,i always knew this console was a standard setter,it just needed DEVs to prove it.Cmon you stubbarn xbox fan boys,u must surely see now that you rushed into a bad decision,join the revolution and see the future of gaming,you've been ripped off for far too long.JOIN US lol.

Lt8653
Lt8653

This is exactly what the PS3 needs, more great looking exclusives, I've been a PS3 fan all along, we're starting to get good exclusives now. Not saying we've had non before, KZ2 And inFamous are two good examples.

Dreadedsniper
Dreadedsniper

very unique, and original game probably going to check it out.

hero513
hero513

I remember the first one. But this looks awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ej1041
ej1041

only possible on ps3...

kamizuka
kamizuka

great graphics, only on Ps3

ocimotez
ocimotez

it's games like this that get immersive but disappointingly short. hopefully this doesnt turn out to be one of them

RonTorque
RonTorque

I love games when it comes to decisions and choices, must buy for me.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I had planned on purchasing this as soon as it was announced. I enjoyed Indigo Prophecy, so when it was announced that Quantic Dream was doing Heavy Rain, I was instantly interested.

konradak
konradak

This game needs to come out soooooon. I cannot wait, this is what I've been hoping for for years.

young_tye
young_tye

this looks amazing..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DragonicB
DragonicB

This game is going to be a PS3 classic right a way with its unique build . . . I love the graphics and the no game over story . . . Finally, a movie under my control xD

ultralesus
ultralesus

Graphics in this game are sweeetttt. I've had my eye on this since seeing it in Edge magazine quiet a while ago. I'm looking forward to something different, and there should be tons of replayability. Is this going to be on Blu Ray or a download off PSN? I swear I read somewhere it was a download...

Dualmask
Dualmask

This game sounds almost dangerously immersive.

NavIGOtoR25
NavIGOtoR25

It is something uncredible and in the momet unreal and amazing!!!

shaun-mon
shaun-mon

i love the way its like a movie! AHH! im soo excieted!

blaze_adeel
blaze_adeel

THIS IS THE GAME i saw at e3 and was amazed b4 i didnt even new it existed :P