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Heavy Rain Day#3: Veering In and Out of Control

This session is an exercise in frustration. The story is developing ok, but it’s a genre I’m not that fond of. The characters seem pretty good and the art is solid. But the controls are SO wonky in places that I lose scenes that I shouldn’t. I cannot tell you how frustrating that is. And the agency continues to be weird in that I have it for truly incidental stuff and then I don’t for big things. This is a fascinating game in terms of its attempts to be interactive cinema, but I’m still not sure that I actually like it. Spoilers within.

I start the session back as the detective. It’s Wednesday, 10:37, and almost 2 inches of rain. I get out of car and I’m at the Bowles house, who I imagine is another parent of Origami Killer victim. I knock on the door and ring the bell, but there’s no answer. I do hear a baby screaming inside, so I go around to the back door and enter. Inside, I see the baby and no parents, but looking around, I find a suicide looking note reading  “I can’t take it anymore.” That’s not good. I head to the back room and have to break in the bathroom door. I find a woman with her wrists slit in the tub. I do the qte  controls to pull her out –  and I succeed. I have to find something to dress the wounds. Looking around, I wash my hands accidentally, because I don’t know that’s what’s going to happen at the sink. I find the dressing and he indicates he’s in a hurry, so I guess I’m hurrying. I dress the wound in now typical microcontrol fashion and I save her. She wants to help the baby. I go to help the baby and let her rest. When I get to the baby, I have to change its diaper, and then warm and get milk for it. I then burp the baby and rock it to sleep. Kind of sweet to do, but kind of boring. When I return to the bedroom, she talks about Jeremy being gone — the dad disappeared the day after the child’s death. She found a cell phone. I take the phone and wish Emily (the baby) well as I go out the door. Walking back to the car, I take one last look at the house, and I’m out.

The father is next, on Wednesday at 11:00. I’m on the street in front of a garage. I go inside and talk to the attendant. He tells me that the car that matches my key has been there for 2 years being maintained. I go down to third level in an  elevator and use the car alarm beeper to find the car. I get in the car and find a GPS in car door pocket. I plug it in, and there’s CS of me driving away to the GPS’s spoken instruction. I end up on the highway, and the GPS tells me that I have to drive against the traffic for five miles in five minutes to get info about my son. I have the choice to not do it in the dialog, but I chose to — good father and all. It’s a series of qte to dodge the way through traffic. I do well at the beginning, but I then fail to make it through traffic because I don’t understand the FUCKING SIXAXIS control icons. The car flies off road and burns, and I walk away. Failing because I didn’t understand the controls is pissing me off tremendously, but the game is supposed to just keep moving forward, so despite my misgivings, I’ll give that a try and eat my failure.

The next scene is the same day but later. I’m at a diner or a motel or something.  I’m the lady for the previous apartment dream scene. I get off my motorcycle, and ring the bell in the motel.  I ask the hotel guy for a room — he’s a creep, but I get the room without incident. I go up to the hotel room after I lose time when I don’t realize that the “2nd floor” my room is on is actually the third story. I see the father when I get to the top floor. He’s very hurt, and I help him back to his room. I get him inside. He’s injured but nothing life-threatening, and I’m helping him. The challenge here is finding the right medicine, and it’s completely stupid. The right answer has a substantively different kind of feedback than the other bad options; the good one says something about how I need to treat his wounds in a generic way, and the wrong ones explain what they do. It’s so stupid — I end up mistakenly bring him the wrong medicine twice, and then when I do get one right choice, I can’t find anything else to help and I get thrown out. What the fuck? Once the girl leaves, I have control of the father again, and I open another origami which reads, “Are you prepared to help your son? Power plant on Embarcadero street.”

We cut to the next scene with the FBI agent on Wednesday at 4:26 pm. I’m with Blake staking out something outside a building. He asks me why I didn’t shoot the religious guy in the previous scene. I choose to get aggressive with him and tell him to shut up since everything worked out fine.  We see our target — I have no idea who this person is, but I guess he’s important. The suspect runs and a chase ensues. I do okay through a chase across a supermarket and we end in a meat locker.  I finally defeat him in a fight scene, and at least there’s something in this play session I don’t lose.

The next scene is 7:28pm same day. The detective is asleep and wakes up. I look around the desk and learn that I used to be a cop — I find an old badge. I take an asthma hit and a shot o’ booze. I kill time looking around, and then the prostitute from the previous scene shows up at my office. I sit down across from her, and she tells me about a letter her husband received when her son died. Her husband read the letter and then left. She still has the envelope. She shows it to me, and I get the district it was sent from and the fact that it was made on a typewriter. She wants to help me out in the investigation. I try to dissuade her but she doesn’t take no, and when my feeble arguments don’t work, I accept her help in a CS. Again, what’s with the weird moments of agency? I get control to say nothing significant, but then at the moment of truth, the decision is made for me? I cut to driving with the prostitute in the car with me. We enter the party looking for another guy. There are well-armed guards at gate who let me in.  I try to find some guy named Gordi  while she stays downstairs in the party. I talk to some drunk guy to no particular avail. I learn that Gordi is upstairs, but the guards are not letting anyone see him. I go back to the drunk guy and trick him into starting a fight, which pulls guards away from the door. While they’re distracted, I go upstairs and talk to Gordi. He’s not paying attention to me at first, but when I push him, he tells me that  he did pick up a kid and that he’s the Origami Killer;  he does it from boredom. I beat up his guards when they jump into the room, he threatens me with his father’s power, and I leave. Seems a little cheesy if this random guy is the main villain of the story, especially with such a terrible motivation, but let’s see where this goes.

We cut to 7:42pm that day, and I’m the father outside the power station. I can’t get the gate open (why did they give me a control when I couldn’t do it), so I instead go in through fence. Even though I succeed at getting through, I cut myself. Where is the agency here? I wander until I find a butterfly near door. I enter and inside I find an incinerator. I go inside it, and once in, I have to crawl through broken glass. I use matches I pick up as I go in to determine where the air is flowing from and use that to find the way out. Once out, there’s another tunnel I have to slide down, and it’s a nice CS as I slip down the tube in a first-person perspective. I end up in room with rows of transformers. There are wire strung between them, a few of which are much less electrified. Oh, I get it. This is Seven or Saw  or something. I’m in a death trap narrative. That’s awful cheesy, but so it goes.

The game here is to hold down sets of buttons so the father can step through the wires without getting shocked. I’ve seen this mechanic earlier in the game, but it’s always been ergonomic to hold down the buttons. I miss a couple of steps when realizing it’s not ergonomic anymore, and then I miss paths because the camera angle blocks some control icons, and then I fail the scene when I apparently misread an icon towards the end. I see the father give up and go out the coward exit, but I’m barely paying attention I’m so mad. I am SO SICK of failing in this game because the controls weren’t clear. Fuck you, game — I’m redoing this scene. I didn’t fail it — you were just too obscure for me to get the success I deserved. I’ll replay this scene next time when I pick this up again.

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