I finished Heavy Rain. It pretty much perfects the choose-your-own-adventure model, in video game / movie form. In terms of an immersive story, I can’t say I’ve played anything quite like it. I don’t mind the awkward control middleware (it makes sense), and it’s probably the first game I’ve played that’s used the motion sensors in the PS3 controllers in a way that makes sense. The visual style and effects are well executed.
That said, the game is buggy. It frequently has characters getting stuck on me, where they can’t move at all. Or, the camera gets stuck in a goofy angle, and you’re completely hosed, and trapped, as a result, unless you manage to guess where your character needs to move and what they need to do without seeing them, which it turns out, I can’t. This usually requires quitting the game or at least re-loading from the last save point, which is pretty irritating.
It was definitely a unique experience, and I’m glad to have done it, though I think it’s a little short. I guess the point is to play out some of the alternative stories to get more “value” out of the game, but much like the choose-your-own-adventure book. I’m just not sure I really have the desire to play through the story differently; much like the aforementioned genre, it just may not be my cup of tea. Technically it’s a split vote, since it’s very beautiful and immersive (ignoring the occasional bits of shoddy motion capture and inexplicably bad articulation of lips), but buggy in completely obvious ways. As a storytelling mechanism, it’s a 10/10, though the story itself is not quite that strong. As a game, it … isn’t exactly. So it’s hard to pin down what I think of it. Probably a 6/10. I feel a little cheated at the end of it.