Interaction overloadYou start off in the demo as Scott Shelby, a private detective hired to investigate murders caused by someone known as the Origami killer. Throughout the game you can choose to hear your characters thoughts, which will often give you clues as to how to progress, bolster the storyline, or trigger an interaction. To showcase the high-level of interaction, the opening scene in the demo sees you having to help the over-weight detective to relieve his asthma by giving him his inhaler. So you respond to the on-screen prompts by moving the analog stick quarter-circle to get it out of your pocket, and then you move it upward to his mouth by tweaking the stick in that direction, and then you have to press ‘R1’ to take a puff, and finally ‘R1’ again to relieve him totally. It’s technically and visually impressive, but much more of this in the full game and we’ll be tearing our hair out.
Furthermore, the QTEs are also sure to divide opinion. The first QTE in the demo sees you fighting against a man in a hooker’s apartment. You hear a scream, knock on the door, break it down and then confront the man inside. The QTE here is reminiscent of some of the long-winded (some would say enjoyable, others would say painstaking) QTEs from Quantic Dreams last game, Indigo Prophecy, where you have to follow a long combination of button presses as you attempt to fend off the man. The animation is excellent as you tussle with the man sending him crashing onto a table and into walls, but we found it hard to watch and enjoy it properly because we were too busy trying to react swiftly to the on-screen flashes of commands. This particular QTE was sort of enjoyable, but the overuse of them could cause Heavy Rain to be a total wash-out.
The high level of interaction also affects the most basic of game controls: moving your character. In the demo the right analog stick is used constantly for interaction with your surroundings and yourself, so Quantic has made use of ‘R1’ instead which you have to hold down whenever you want to walk and then use the analog stick to direct your character. It feels quite awkward, almost the exact opposite of the smooth flowing interactions.
Interaction and QTEs are obviously a big part of the Heavy Rain experience and to some they’ll also be a part of its attraction, alongside the storyline and the impressive visuals. There have already been some overwhelmingly positive reviews for Heavy Rain, but based on this demo we wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see an equal amount of average reviews. We'll have our review published shortly with the definitive verdict.