Watching an entire playthrough of Heavy Rain left my mind boggled. Clearly it was a game, a very pretty game, but it plays out like a movie - a thriller for the ages. A thriller with a twist not all of us saw coming (I knew who the Origami Killer was beforehand), but still enthralling nonetheless. Heavy Rain humanized video games, at least for me; a powerful epic tale of four lives intertwined in an emotional conflict. Quantic Dream's masterpiece set the bar extremely high and necessarily put other games like it to shame. So is that why we haven't seen many games like it? Where gameplay takes a backseat and the primary focus is on storytelling and characters? Alan Wake and Enslaved are the only other comparisons I can think of released last year.
Remedy's classic had an engaging albeit confusing plot, believable characters, but a shortsighted ending. The DLC answered some questions, but I hope there is a sequel. Although not a problem, comparing it to Heavy Rain is wrong on my part - Alan Wake had great gameplay, where Heavy Rain was all quick time events. Enslaved is the direct opposite. Ninja Theory, a studio renowned for heavy storytelling in its games, certainly had that thought in mind. Enslaved's gameplay was nothing stellar, and the sales may have reflected that, but the compelling story made it worth a purchase. I hope Namco Bandai warrants a sequel because the IP is promising, and can be innovated greatly.
Heavy Rain was one of the better received titles of last year, and it's my hope that feedback resonated with studios in their development rooms. Honestly, I am getting tired of games having a sub-par multiplayer component, and games where the multiplayer is the focus. The FPS genre is generally accused of this and I agree; Medal of Honor tried too hard to steer clear of this unfortunate reputation and it fell short. Ninja Theory should be applauded for sticking with their principles in the name of bad sales, even if their games are incredible. Quantic Dream took a massive risk and it paid off handsomely. Other studios need to take note of this and a new genre could be born. I don't know what that genre would be called, but the incoming Rockstar epic L.A. Noire will answer that question.
What sets L.A. Noire apart from Heavy Rain is the realistic look of its characters. Employing the same method seen in Avatar (the James Cameron flick), actors portray the characters instead of faces being electronically generated. The game itself looks extremely promising, with vivid characters and elegant storytelling, and I'll be buying the game day one. (Plus it's from Rockstar. It's impossible not to be bad.)
Will we see more games like this? Probably. Heavy Rain was hugely successful, and unexpectedly was received generously by gamers and reviewers alike. Microsoft's Kinect could enhance such a game, and if Microsoft looks to break into the core audience with the device, such a game may just do that. So let's get on it studios. Give us stories. Indulge us gamers with those creative minds of yours. I beg of you.