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Friday, September 9, 2011

Video Game Spotlight #2

Heavy Rain (Playstation 3)

This new decade has started off well for horror games! Sure, call it a thriller if you want to be disrespectful of the horror genre, but the truth is that it is an exploitation game! That's right! And it's done well too.
It has a genuinely suspenseful and intriguing narrative that clearly draws inspiration from great films like Saw, Seven, and all kinds of noir. At certain unexpected times Heavy Rain can also be quite scary, gruesome and even exploitative. There's an old man who might drug you, strap you to a table and chop you into pieces. And there's even a scenario where the main female character is forced to strip. Of course you're in control of how far it goes. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, even if it's with a game character.
Any of the four characters you control can die at the hands of the mysterious Origami Killer, late or even relatively early in the game. This changes the course of what's to come. The french game developer Quantic Dream previously worked on the Playstation 2 game Indigo Prophecy, which had a very similar sensibility and was great. Let's hope they keep going in this direction. Games could definitely benefit from genre expansion.
My only real quibble with Heavy Rain was its ending. The twist ending of who the Origami Killer is was a huge letdown. The character of Lauren, who is looking for her missing child, should've been the killer. It would've been less obvious if she had turned out to be a man and was the whacked-out mastermind all along. Either way, it is totally worth playing through at least once.

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