Choose Your Own Adventure in Psychological Thriller ‘Heavy Rain’

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Heavy Rain is sort of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books from our childhood, where you’re able to decide what you want to do and then turn to the corresponding page to see what happens.

But in the PlayStation 3 game, obviously,  the stakes are much higher, and you’ve got a lot more choices than just page 10 and page 33. In Heavy Rain, players take on the role of four different characters — an FBI profiler, a private investigator, an architect and a journalist — in a psychological thriller surrounding a serial killer.

“At the core, it is really this type of (Choose Your Own Adventure) experience,” said the game’s executive producer Guillaume de Fondaumiere at a recent demonstration in New York. “You can constantly interact, you can constantly change certain things in the environment and the relationships that you have. It’s the next-next-gen of Choose Your Own Adventure, a video game in real-time 3D.”

Though the game follows a main narrative based on solving the mystery of the Origami Killer, the developers from French studio Quantic Dream wanted players to have choices in every scene along the way.

“I can make myself a coffee, I can open the fridge. I can do whatever makes sense in this context of the apartment,” de Fondaumiere explained. “If it should be interactive, it is interactive. There’s nothing you have to do but to a certain extent the more you do, the more you learn about the character, the more you learn about the environment and, sometimes, the more you learn about the story.”

With its deep, engaging narrative, de Fondaumiere hopes that Heavy Rain will elevate the medium of video games to the level of respect that movies have. Quantic Dream founder David Cage, the writer and director of the game, was influenced particularly by films like Silence of the Lambs, Seven, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects and other psychological thrillers. And while de Fondaumiere thinks game creators want to integrate more movie-like, story-driven elements into their games, it’s not easy.

“It’s a nightmare to write, it’s a nightmare to test, and it’s a nightmare to produce,” he said. “There is a paradox in creating an interactive game that is, by nature, non-linear and to still have the core element of what a good story is — characterization, strong narrative.”

“What we wanted to create is an experience that would leave an imprint in people’s minds,” he continued. “We want to make people feel something, like you do when you have a great book or movie and you experience something strong. It touches you as person. This is what we are trying to do with Heavy Rain, make something that questions you as an individual. And show people that that is possible with a video game.”

To read the essential things you should know about Heavy Rain, turn to page 2…

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