Friday, 24 June 2011

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly

Just a note: Due to Exams, updates have been a bit scarce - this is soon to be rectified.

Rectified. All. The. Way.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Two can be as bad as one (part 2)

You know what sucks? Potentially losing your son to a psychotic serial killer who constantly mocks you and makes you face potentially fatal trials in order to receive titbits of information regarding his whereabouts. Good opportunity to meet women though.

Essentially Heavy Rain presents the human condition under high amounts of pressure, it's a daunting and engaging tale and the conflict of emotion is a central theme in the game's story-telling. Therefore it is not unexpected that the exploration or romantic feeling is available to the player through one of the game's protagonists- Ethan. It is not, however, essential.

Ethan, having faced his share of tragedies in the opening segments of the game finds himself single and alone. In order to cheer himself up a bit he decides to play the worlds most dangerous game of hide and seek with his son, Shaun. That's how I like to remember the game anyway. In reality Shaun is captured by the infamous 'Origami Killer'. A murderer so twisted that he actually folds his victims into the shapes of swans and boats...That doesn't happen either.  

Ethan faces many a peril on his journey to find Shaun and along his path he meets the mysterious journalist Madison Paige. Madison begins to take an interest in Ethan's strange behaviour and impressive facial animation and eventually, through her, Ethan gains moments of solace during his time of anguish. 

From then on an unlikely romance doth bloom. The climax of which revolves around a touching moment far into the game when the player is presented with the opportunity to make your feelings for Madison known. Ethan shares an intimate moment with her, still distraught over not having found your son. You sit together, just the two of you on the floor of a rented apartment. You lean in and press X to shout her name.  The player is then given the choice of whether or not they want to continue romancing Madison.

Once again the player that wants to remain single is catered for, you feel just as emotionally invested in Ethan as a character if he chooses not to engage in romance. The story delivers on whatever choice that the player decides and nothing is lost from the experience if you choose a certain path. Well, except an increasingly awkward cut-scene if you chose to play the game with your parents or significant other in the room. 

Thematically however is there something lost in playing a love-less Heavy rain? In essence the game's opening segment, which depicts Ethan's happy life with his two children and wife, demonstrates to us the wholeness of a character. Through the tragic loss of life that character drains into seemingly a hollow vessel which we as the player must fill with our own new experiences. One of the pieces that's taken from Ethan is that of his love-life, so in choosing not to begin a relationships a-new are we really experiencing the full thematic development of a character?

Well, in a way the player never does lose out, Ethan's life may never be the same again but for the freedom of choice to remain important it must be understood that some things will always permanently be lost. A theme that's revealed early on in the game through the emergence of death in an otherwise idyllic scene.

The single player is still respected. Ethan's journey feels just as complete without romance by the end segments of the game, as does Madison's. For the lone protagonist it's not a case of 'Heavy Pain'.

That was poor.