Globe and Mail game critic reports on Sony's 2010 preview event in New York...
I'd already seen a bit of this gorgeously rendered and shockingly cinematic crime thriller, which features a quartet of playable characters who are drawn to the doings of a serial killer. And while I was duly impressed by the game's graphics and wholly original style of play, which has us following quick-time prompts (press this button, swivel that thumb-stick) to make characters go about their activities in surprisingly organic fashion, I wondered how truly engaging it would be.
That question was answered in New York with a new level not previously shown to journalists. It's difficult to describe what took place without ruining the experience for the player--and this is a game in which keeping the experience fresh prior to playing is crucial--but I can say I was utterly engaged.
The level began with me controlling a woman in her apartment who can't get to sleep. After a few minutes spent wandering about, moving from couch to bed and trying to lull herself asleep with everything from sleeping pills to warm tea to simply staring out rain-streaked windows, she thinks she hears someone in the suite with her.
After that--well, let's just say that the action that ensues is so physical and terrifying that I've never been more fearful for a video game character's safety. Think of any scene you've watched in a movie in which a man brutally assaults a woman, then, since you're actually in the role of the woman being savagely attacked, multiply your feelings of panic and sympathy several-fold.
A representative for the game's developer, Quantic Dream, told me that one of the studio's primary goals was to make players feel emotions in ways that they never have before while playing a game.
Mission accomplished, I'd say.