What makes the video games of Quantic Dream so good?

Since Fahrenheit (2005) I played every single Quantic Dream video game. And they were all a great experience: Heavy Rain (2010) impressed with an intense, captivating serial killer story, Beyond Two Souls (2013) dealt with the moving relationship between Jodie Holmes and her mysterious identity Aiden, Detroit: Become Human (2018) questioned the place of Androids in a society made by humans.

All Quantic Dream productions are ambitious and of high quality. But there are also many other video games that are ambitious and of high quality. So, what makes Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human better? The answer lies in these two words: interactive storytelling!

Heavy decisions

In all Quantic Dream games the player’s decisions are an important part. The decisions made during the course of the game not only advance the story, but also tell a lot about the player’s personality. Ultimately, the player gets to know himself through the video game. Especially when decisions have to be made under time pressure, there is little time for reflection and often intuition wins. And it is exciting to see where intuition can lead the player. Namely in areas that he hadn’t suspected before. Video games from Quantic Dream test the personality of the player and his (moral) views. Players are sometimes very surprised by their own decisions. Hardly any other games have “played” with the player’s personality in such a way.

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Fighting scene in Heavy Rain: To win this combat you have to be very concentrated for the quick time events

As close to the action as possible

Furthermore, the video games of Quantic Dream are very immersive. Life and death of the characters are in the hands of the player and depend on how he deals with them. So, in Heavy Rain or Detroit Become Human the main characters can actually die if you don’t pay attention and play exactly. And it’s a permadeath. The player will do everything he can to ensure that this doesn’t happen. This way he gets even more into the game and the story. Full immersion and concentration are achieved through quick time events (QTE). Even if these are partly criticized and called “inadequate gameplay”, they are very, very effective. They require maximum concentration and precision from the player. The player has the ambition not to make any mistakes at such an event and therefore fully increases himself in the process. Sometimes quick time events are very surprising and short, sometimes announced, very long and challenging for the player.

With interactive stories David Cage sees the player even as the writer of the story:

The level of immersion is different because they make the decisions, see the consequences and it becomes their story. It’s crazy to see how personal it becomes.

Captivating stories with an appealing cast

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Motion Capture session with Hollywood stars Ellen Page and William Dafoe

The high points of the games are also their stories, which are complex, moving, exciting and grandiosely told. It is thanks to them that decisions and quick time events work so well in the end, because without a good plot they would be completely worthless. The excellent motion capture technique breathes life into the characters of the story. Quantic Dream players will always remember Jacqui Ainsley (Madison Page) from Heavy Rain, Ellen Page (Jodie Holmes) and William Dafoe (Nathan Dawkins) from Beyond Two Souls or Jesse Williams (Markus) and Bryan Dechart (Connor) from Detroit. The fact that the team around David Cage has some well-known and experienced actors for the protagonists pays off perfectly. Quantic Dream games shine through their grandiose “acting”.

The stories are also so exciting because they are told from different perspectives. Cage about it: 

I really enjoy telling stories from different points of view, and I don’t know why other people don’t do that as much. Because it’s fun, especially when you tell stories that start separately and later interlace.

An art form

For Quantic Dream and its founder David Cage video games should be considered as art like films, books etc. The mission of Cage’s games is to evoke emotions, real emotions such as empathy, sadness, guilt or anger. Most classic games promote above all frustration and competition. Heavy Rain and co. appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike, considering video games to be the same as any artform. Just like books or films they stay with you.

David Cage said about that in an interview: “When you talk about video games, there’s the word game. There’s a notion of fun, of casualness. Games are not supposed to address a certain number of themes, because there are things you can’t have fun with, because it’s too serious. It’s not my conception of interactivity. Interacting is not necessarily having fun, in my opinion. It’s to live something. It can be nice but it can also be dark, sad.

Conclusion

Studio Quantic Dream make video games primarily to tell stories. Stories have existed since the beginning of mankind and belong to the basic framework of society: Everyone wants stories to be told. But David Cage has gone one step further. He not only tells them, but also lets the listeners participate in the story. They don’t sit passively in front of the TV or silently read a book, no they sit with the controller sweating and gesticulating in front of the console and have an active experience! This is perfect immersion and interactive storytelling!

PS: I’m now happy for all the PC and Xbox owners who will be able in 2019 to enjoy Quantic Dream games which were previously exclusive to PlayStation.

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Sources: reddit.com, gamesindustry.biz

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