Why Quantic Dream’s “Kara” could change the gaming world

If you haven’t already seen it, you should check out this video, showing off Quantic Dream’s brand new engine and what they can do with it. QD are of course the geniuses behind Heavy Rain which changed the way people thought about games forever. Games could be adult, with real emotion and a proper story – very close to your favourite film or TV drama. Well QD are taking that a hundred steps further and boy, it’s exciting.

In the video, Kara is a robot, her purpose is to serve humans whether that be by looking after the house, cooking or having sex with you. She is to be sold away and all the robots (for lack of a better word) all look identical. Kara is different though, after being booted up, she realises she has emotions, she doesn’t want to be sold because she thought she was alive. Naturally, the person watching over her being built freaks out and starts to disassemble her.  Kara is frightened, she doesn’t want to “die”, she cries and begs not be shut down. Just before it’s too late, the machine decides to let her go, on the condition she doesn’t start any more trouble.

An interesting plot is already in the making here – but I digress – what does this short clip show us gamers?

The adult theme still remains. It’s clear that QD is still making games for adults about important adult issues. I would say there’s still a lack of proper adult games on the market. Yes we have plenty of 18 rated games none of them really tackle anything of great importance. When was the last time you played a game that really made you think about your decisions and the consequences of your actions?

It’s highly emotional. If you didn’t feel yourself welling up at Kara begging for her life then what the hell is wrong with you!? It’s clear QD have picked an incredible actress here as she captures Kara’s fear and sadness perfectly. It also helps that QD are now capturing the voice, face and body motion all at once instead of separately, which is what most studios currently do. Even the voice-over of the man building Kara is patronising in an appropriate way. You feel sorry for Kara , even though she’s not a real person, you feel sorry for her, sorry for the fact she’s being used because when you look at her face, you see a woman and not a robot. The way the voice-over calls her “honey” and “baby” helps add to the creepy tone. It reaffirms the notion she is a woman, a human being, being sold off, even though we know she’s not real – the fact she can feel human emotions pulls the audiences heart-strings.

The graphics are stunning. This is running real time on a PlayStation 3! If you look back at Heavy Rain, at the time it was a massive break-through in terms of how humans in games were animated, Kara puts that to shame. Kara looks real, her eyes, her facial movements, even her tears. It’s amazing to think people are considering a PlayStation 4 when this is what we can do with a PS3 and I bet this isn’t even the limit.

A comparison of the actress who plays Kara (Valorie Curry) and her computer generated counter-part. (Image from officialplaystationmagazine.co.uk)

It’s a shame this demo is only to show off their new engine and isn’t a trailer for a game in development. Kara and her story have real potential to become a game much like Heavy Rain. But, I don’t think is the last time we’ll see Kara. Quantic Dream have shown us what the games of the future look like, and they look scarily real.

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One thought on “Why Quantic Dream’s “Kara” could change the gaming world

  1. I know it’s “just” a tech demo, but I’d love to see them evolve this into a game. Even after just that video, I found myself quite invested in the character of KARA.

    Also, it proves that we don’t necessarily need the next generation of console hardware just yet.

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