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Heavy Rain Demo Walkthrough & Review

If you've been keeping up with me on Twitter, then you saw my tweet on how to get the Heavy Rain demo early courtesy of a Kotaku post. Before I get into my thoughts on it, you'll need to know the demo is approximately 1.7gb. The codes were specific to EU/UK region so you need an account from said region. The following impression will contains spoilers, so continue reading at your own risk.

First off, mood plays a big part in the demo so take the time to adjust your lighting and sound settings. I skipped over the "Tutorial" in the menu and went straight to “Start New Demo”. I was anxious, so sue me. You begin as Private Detective Scott Shelby going through a bunch of pressure sensitive right-stick QTEs (Quick Time Events) while en route to investigate a murder.

Once you're out of the vehicle and headed down the alleyway, a series of prompts come up instructing you what to do. This sort of seemed like a tutorial, so I no longer felt bad about skipping it. You also get a chance to use the asthmatic Shelby's inhaler. This prepares you for more stressful situations to come later.

The walking, of all things, takes some getting used to. You hold the R2 button to walk while controlling the direction with the left stick. Trying not to overshoot your destination is a problem at times. It’s a bit awkward at first, but you get used to it.

After the little alleyway tutorial, you head inside a little apartment complex and you ask the guy at the counter for the location of the victim’s mother. He says he doesn’t know, but the fog clears up after you slip him 5 dollars. She’s a prostitute residing in one of the upstairs rooms. She opens the door and says she’ll give you 10 minutes to handle "bit-nizz", but “no kissing and no weird sh**”. (Her rules, not mine.) After telling her that I'm not here for that (but still dropping $50 on the table...), she assumes I’m a cop and is hesitant to talk.

At this point, you can choose a direction for the conversation. With the right prompts, I was able to convince her to open up and give a few more details. The alarm goes off and she asks you to leave, which you do, but not before leaving a business card on her table. Once in the hallway, your asthma starts kicking in again. Probably because you just blew your chance to get laid.

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This is where things get a little tense. Another series of QTE prompts have you searching your pockets for your inhaler. Once you find it, you shake it by shaking the controller, then use it a few times with the R1 button. While all of this is going on, a bald walks by you to the woman’s room and pounds on the door. After she tells him to go away, he forces himself in. Once you've composed yourself, you hear her screaming as he’s yelling, so you decide to investigate. You knock on the door and the bald guy answers and tells you to beat it, but you see the prostitute on the floor. Here's where the QTE really comes into play.

You can walk away, but seeing as how I got $50 invested in this chick, I chose to kick the door in instead. You and the man argue for a bit then start scrapping. This fight is crazy but fun because the QTE prompts are all over the place, and if you don't have your PS3 controller button placements memorized, you could end up taking a nasty beating. I missed a few prompts and got whaled on a bit, but when the dust settled, the bald guy running away with his tail between his legs. The entire fight was a pure adrenaline rush and reminded me of some of the events from Heavy Rain's predecessor, Indigo Prophecy as well as some old school Shenmue from the Sega Dreamcast.  Anyway, the woman finally agrees to tell you a bit more and thanks you for the help.

The games shifts to the next playable chapter, “Crime Scene”, which has you playing as FBI profiler Nomran Jayden. The “thought” button (L2) is used a lot more here. After confirming with one of the officers that you’re an FBI agent, you tell him you’re looking for the lieutenant. The officer tells you he’s somewhere around the crime scene. At this point, you can head straight to the lieutenant or begin searching for clues. This introduces you to one of Jayden’s gameplay tools, his glasses and glove combo, which acts as a mobile forensic kit for picking up clues in the area.

Pressing R1 to scan the area, revealed a few unrelated DNA deposits, but also a trail of pollen, which led to the tent covering the victim’s body. I headed towards the tent and took a peek inside, but was stopped by the lieutenant.

After identifying myself (I'm surprised I was allowed to poke around the crime scene as long as I was without being checked), we walked around the crime scene and I was able to ask some questions. After enough questions, he tells you he’s busy and to come back to him if you find anything interesting. A few more R1 scans revealed more clues, including footprints on the other side of the train tracks, blood on one of the planks on the tracks, and blood beside a fence opening. Next to the opening is an embankment you can climb, requiring you to press and hold a series of buttons. After a couple slips back down to the bottom, I made it to the top where you discover more footprints and tire tracks leading onto a busy interstate.

Now you have to follow more QTE prompts to make your way back down the embankment. Mistiming a press will cause you to slip to the bottom level. I ran into the lieutenant who tells me he's leaving, so I decide to roll out as well. I like how the game kind of points you to your next direction, because as I was about to get into my car, Jayden stops and looks back at the body, reminding me there was something left for me to do.

After making my way back to the tent-covered body, I looked back inside and used my glove to scour for clues. I was able to identity the victim, states of the body, etc. There's also an origami figure of a dog clenched in his hand, which Jayden says had to have been placed postmortem. After collecting all of the evidence, he says he thinks he’s got everything he needs. I head back to the car, turn on the ignition, and drive away, bringing the demo to an end as it goes into one of the game-rendered trailers.

Heavy Rain is definitely NOT your cookie-cutter game, so don’t expect something you’re used to. It will be received just as Indigo Prophecy was. Either it's something you're into or you're not.  As for me, I was totally engrossed. It can be slow at some points in the game, but when it picks up then it's off the chain. Every choice you make has an impacting consequence on the storyline, so this adds amazing amounts of replay value to me and puts it in the "Buy" category as opposed to "Rent".

Note: Because of the type of game Heavy Rain is, not everyone will have the same experience as I did. Depending on your choices, failures, and successes, the scenes and dialogue my vary.

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Producer and co-host of Geek Aggro (www.collectivegeek.ning.com). Writer for Electricsitahood.