Gaming Snapshot (again): Heavy Rain (again)

Spoilers below

Without fail, every time I play Heavy Rain I end up laughing, generally at the ridiculous things you have to do. This time was no exception. In tonight’s play I:

  • Realised I didn’t look sexy enough to attract the attention of ‘Paco’, so put on eyeliner and lipstick, unbuttoned my blouse, and tore a few inches from my skirt.
  • Did a sexy dance (heels aren’t easy things to dance in, you know)
  • Crushed a man’s balls
  • As another character, I made sweet love to the ball-crusher

And I only played for about half-an-hour

The narrative lane changes Heavy Rain can take continue to amaze me. For example, as Ethan, I was about to leave my apartment after making bones with Madison, who lay sleeping. The game gave me the option to lift her jacket. I did so, and a notebook and camera fell out, revealing her as a journalist (and thus a liar). An argument ensued. I had the choice to forgive or reject her. I chose forgive, and she left.

That I could’ve rejected her is interesting. More interesting is that I was about to leave without moving her jacket. I only just spotted the prompt before exiting, and had to stop and wander the room to see what the option even referred to. What if I hadn’t moved her jacket? Would I ever have found out that she was a journalist?

Continuing as Ethan, I tried to run away the police. Despite failing a few QTEs I still looked likely to escape. I was given the choice to go left; I went right. I could go down; I chose up. As instructed, I hammered a button to climb onto the roof, but an officer still managed to drag me down. I was arrested and thrown in a cell. In developer Quantic Dream’s previous game, Fahrenheit, this would’ve meant failure and repeating the mission. But here, the game progresses with Ethan locked up.

Although you cycle through characters in this game, Ethan has been the protagonist. Now his attempt to save his son from a slow, watery death seems to be over. Yet the story continues. How many god damn ways can you play this game?

I love Heavy Rain.

I had no idea Madison was a journalist. She’d been my avatar a number of times. Now I feel let down, as ridiculous as that sounds. Unreliable narrators are common in fiction but rare in games, and I can’t think of many examples of having played as a character whose motivations weren’t what I thought they were (though Niko from GTA IV comes to mind).

Paco. Jesus. Paco is…I don’t fucking know. Paco is a badly-imagined latino criminal. He’s supposed to be taken seriously, but he’s so ridiculous he’d fit in perfectly in the comical, satirical world of GTA IV. He looks preposterous: big stupid beard, both wardrobe and interior design bearing zebra print.

“My name ‘Paco’!”.

As much as I laugh at Heavy Rain, its narrative and tone are designed to be taken seriously. But then someone like Paco will turn up, and you can tell some character designer had found Al Pacino in Scarface as his only inspiration.

Quantic Dream dropped the ball on minority representation in their last game, Fahrenheit, too. Tyler was a black man cliché, a former gang member turned good who loved shooting hoops, making love with his white woman, and literally walked with a funk and soul soundtrack. QD have again shown that they’re culturally tone-deaf. They have a new game, Beyond, coming out soon. I hope they can do better, if they can’t, sadly, the best thing for them to do might be to make everyone white.


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