Here's a seven minute video from Quantic Dream, the makers of "Heavy Rain", that interactive movie game from a few years ago. "Heavy Rain" was a game I skipped over mostly because of how weird and inhuman the characters looked. If this new video is any indication, the Uncanny Valley is truly dead, and that's what most game bloggers are going to be buzzing about. Honestly, I couldn't care less about any of that, because this video is quite simply beautiful. The technical innovations are dwarfed by the brilliance of the dramatic scene here. Just watch:
"Kara" is a pretty basic SciFi concept, androids coming to life. You could probably be cynical and point out that its been done a million times before, but its probably not been done this well*. In just a seven minute scene, "Kara" sets the stage for what could be an amazing story, which is actually a pretty good parallel for what Quantic Dream has been trying to do for years now. They've been out to create the perfect digital human, an artificial person much like Kara herself. In this video I'd say they've succeeded, beating out both their original "Heavy Rain" and really beating out Square Enix's "Spirits Within" from over a decade ago. They also seem to be facing the fact that their digital humans are little more than commodities to be sold, and in a few nude scenes, purposefully designed masturbation pieces. Then they ask themselves, what if their characters really were alive, and so "Kara" is born. But I don't know if its just technology that makes this a success. I don't care about the tech, I just want to see more of this story.
As with all movies, you have to give some respect to the actors, and the lady here, Valorie Curry sells this scene brilliantly. Part of that comes from the fact that she's not a plastic-wrapped supermodel goddess like you'd see in a Michael Bay movie; the kind of woman who manages to be Uncanny Valley in the real world. Valorie Curry is a simple natural beautiful face. Her features are perfect without being a manufactured man-pleasing visage. Kara isn't a strong figure, she seems to be designed to be a subordinate female, made only to clean, work after kids, and be fucked. Perfect casting is usually the first step to making an amazing movie, or an amazing game. It isn't the tech that is making this a great short movie, its the script, its the emotions, its the acting, and its the beautiful artistic touches like that lovely Japanese song and the beating artificial heart.
Everything here works, and you really want to see more of what happens. If this were a movie trailer, I'd be ready to call "Kara" one of the best movies ever, even before I see it. This is amazing work.
Unfortunately, Quantic Dream made this entire video as nothing more than a tech demo. So we're never actually going to see a full game based on this. Apparently whatever they are working on - which better be goddamn amazing if they're ditching this concept in favor of it - has nothing to do with this character, this world, or this world. Honestly, I have no idea what in the world they've thinking. In the interviews, the Quantic guys have a kind of "aww shucks" attitude, hoping that fans will just sorta accept this as a strange quirk of their studio. I guess the irony of making a tech demo about a character begging for her life and then immediately stuffing that character into the closet never to be used again didn't occur to them. Why not continue with this? The tech is fine for nerds, I play games and watch movies for great stories and art.
So "Kara" might just turn into another "Final Fantasy VII PS3 Remake" scenario. If what Quantic Dream actually is making is somehow better than "Kara", maybe they'll skirt by. Otherwise I can see a long future where whenever Quantic Dream announces a new game, the fanbase will immediately ask "is it 'Kara'?" only to be disappointed by a "no, its not". I never understood this idea of wasting artistic resources in tech demos when those tech demos could be the first step in a bigger artistic project. Why throw it all away? What are you thinking? Maybe if "Kara" was a self-contained short movie, with a clear conclusion of some kind, then it would be enough, but this is just the first scene in something bigger. Am I the only one who sees that?
Oh well. In less exciting news, I'm going to see "Coriolanus" tomorrow.
* And in all honestly, I never did understand the mentality of people who say "oh, I saw this movie with a similar plotline, why should I care about this new thing?" So what if its been done before? EVERYTHING HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE. Some people just need an excuse to be unhappy about everything. See: the people who complain about "War Horse" because it was "emotionally manipulative", thanks for hating a movie for doing exactly what a movie is supposed to do.