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Heavy Rain: Marketing Snafu?

The addition of “The Taxidermist” DLC reminds me of the bittersweet story that is Heavy Rain. On Feb. 23rd Quantic Dream released Heavy Rain, the spiritual successor to Indigo Prophecy, and has since enjoyed positive sales and favorable reviews (87 from MetaCritic). What’s most interesting about this though is that Heavy Rain was largely marketed as an “Action/Adventure” game in which the player is asked, “How far would you go to save the one you love?”. What they neglected to mention was that to save the one you love, you’d have to memorize the PlayStation 3 controller and unblinkingly spasm key strokes for the length of the 6 hour storyline.

As an avid gamer, I watched with intrigue as this graphically-stunning, experimental game came close to release. The worst fear of every gamer is that their most anticipated game will be uncovered as a series of cinematics or quick time events (QTE) that has no meaningful gameplay. During an interview, the creator David Cage avoided mentioning QTE’s and instead used the term “Interactive Drama” to categorize his game. From a marketing perspective, this oxymoronic term was a wise omission from the commercials and packaging.

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This was clever because the title “Interactive Drama” inherently implies a certain amount of un-interactivity. But no matter how many talented writers you bring together to create a Choose Your Own Adventure book, the reader will still only be flipping numbered pages. As such, during Heavy Rain the player is restricted to the narrative presented and given a limited amount of choices to make (few with actual consequences). Thus, it very much mirrors a regular game but without varied gameplay mechanics and more squares (■) than a college library during finals week.

In the end, the gorgeous graphics and powerful story of Heavy Rain break new ground for the genre, but limited and repetitive gameplay keeps it from breaking any sales records.

Mario Halkyer is a guest poster from York, PA who
runs his own blog and regularly plays more games than needed.

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