wokhedinn

Dear David Cage – I Hate You (A letter to the writer/director of Heavy Rain)

In Videogames on March 4, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Dear Mr. Cage,

Your latest piece of interactive drama left a sour taste in my mouth.  Maybe the months of hype dating back to 2009’s E3 conference started it.  Maybe the slew of great reviews built it up to something it couldn’t be.  Maybe all your boasting and self-praise left me jaded.  But I finally realize what I should have all along – Heavy Rain is a video game.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And as such, it’s an utter disappointment.

My first playthrough of your game took roughly 10 hours, spanning nearly the entirety of its release date.  I played through, enjoying the plot in spite of the cheesy dialogue and sophomoric attempts of maturity.  At its heart, Heavy Rain tried to convey a story that seemed intriguing and fresh.   But as I played I felt a hollowness, as if everything I did meant nothing.  Every flick of the analog stick or thrust of the controller in some arbitrary direction felt forced, not as if I were naturally controlling a character on screen but as if I were part of some experiment to see how long I followed command prompts before I revolted.  But I trudged through as the story unfolded, witnessed the ending scenes and generally felt a sense of joy and accomplishment.

That feeling soon faded.  Joy quickly became replaced by confusion and frustration.  I felt cheated.  By the logic of your story, the actions of the killer leading up to his reveal made no sense.  Why would a man trying to cover up his actions think like someone else?  Who was he trying to fool?  The man behind the curtain?  Not that he fooled anyone.  It became readily apparent he was the Origami Killer from the simple fact that he was the only character that failed to interact with the other three once before the final sequence.  And then what purpose did Ethan’s blackouts serve other than an asinine red herring?  Why would a writer attempt to spell out something so obvious early in the game were he not trying to mislead?  Suddenly Ethan had origami dogs in his hand despite having no knowledge of origami.  And he wandered to Carnaby Square, site of the Origami Killer’s trouble past.  But did you explain any of this in your self-contained story, Mr. Cage?  Do I have to buy your upcoming episodic content to find the answer to these questions?  I tend to think not even those will answer such glaring plot holes.

My second playthrough revealed my biggest issues.  The press surrounding your game, even your own words, claimed that your actions would have consequences in the world around you.  In fact, this drew me to the game more than anything else, the actual chance for your actions to affect an ever evolving story.  But this was the biggest lie of all.  My actions had affected nothing.  If I didn’t find the killer’s tire tracks, a crucial early game clue, they would magically be discovered by someone else and wind up in my files.  If I chose to stand still for thirty minutes rather than stop an attempted suicide, I would be unable to advance until I helped.  If I missed a cue during a seemingly dangerous driving sequence, I wouldn’t even get a different animation than had I hit the cue; instead my car would just crash earlier, though visibly the same exact spot were I to have reached my location.  And my penalty for not reaching that location: slightly different dialogue at the game’s finale.  In theory,1996’s Resident Evil allowed as much choice and impact as Heavy Rain.

Much like the press surrounding it, Heavy Rain is nothing but an illusion – a trick to make the user think he’s partaking in something fresh and innovative.  But while certain adventure games like Missing: Since January (In Memoriam) actually achieved this, your game just pretended to.  Much like your Dance-Dance-Revolution-quick-time riddled Indigo Prophecy (Farenheit), the only thing I truly felt after completing Heavy Rain was bitterness.  Maybe I’m tired of being lied to.  Maybe I’m just jaded.  Maybe I built Heavy Rain into something it was never supposed to be.  Maybe what I’m looking for is far out of reach and beyond what the typical gamer wants.  Maybe the problem is me.  But I’d like to believe the problem is you and the lies your industry peddles.

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  1. You are pathetic. Honestly, I hope this is a joke of some kind because if you are actually this upset about a piece of pop-culture entertainment you need to find a better use of your time.

    Oh no! Video games aren’t becoming the quintessential artistic experience! Oh no, this new form of entertainment isn’t answering life’s giant philosophical quandaries! Oh my goodness, video games haven’t revitalized poetry, music, performance and visual arts or made my life have meaning! How dare you, Video game industry! How dare you not meet my every ridiculous expectation?!?!

    Seriously? What did you expect? When did any piece of art or entertainment, no matter how fantastic and brilliant, ever change the fact that poop stinks, taxes suck and politicians are corrupt? I’ve spent years studying Shakespeare and have been moved by the majesty of his work. None of that changed the fact that i have to get up and go to work each weekday, and I certainly didn’t bitch about the pieces that didn’t match up to my expectations going in.

    “Lies your industry peddles” you say? You mean…marketing? Are you the guy that actually thinks opening a Coor’s Light is going to cause an instant party to appear all around you, filled with attractive women wanting your attention? You are right! The beer industry is peddling lies! Wait, those new Nike shoes didn’t add seven inches to your vertical jump? NIKE LIES!! WHAT A HORRIBLE, EVIL INDUSTRY!

    Congratulations! You are the whiny little bitch of the month.

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