Quantic Dream’s last title, dubbed Indigo Prophecy in North America and Fahrenheit pretty much everywhere else, tried to bridge together intricate storytelling with gameplay by using what were essentially quick-time events (think Dragon’s Lair). A button prompt appears on the screen, and if you press it in time, the game continues and you get another one. If you don’t, you fail and usually wind up staring at the words “Game Over”.
With Heavy Rain, the studio took this control mechanic to a completely different level by removing the win/fail result and instead turned it into what can best be described as a branching narrative. You can’t ever actually fail in Heavy Rain. There is no Game Over screen, and nothing will force you to have to replay anything. No matter what you do, the game, its characters and the story move on.
This has multiple effects. If you’re in an action sequence, missing one prompt might not mean much other than that the fight or chase would play out a little differently. Rather than taking out the bad guy right then, you might get knocked down but get another chance right after that. Miss too many and the bad guy might get away, but like I said, the story will continue on, no matter the result. In other instances, these options (as there is often more than one button available to you at any one time) will decide what a character says, how they react to something, what you interact with or so on and so forth.
The studio’s promotional video for the game at the early stages of development: