Indigo Prophecy has to be the only game he made that I found any thing remotely interesting. It was ambitious and really cool at the time to see your actions or failures (“Game Overs are a failure of game designers”) affect the story. It had a really strong first half that suddenly tumbled all the way down into “Actually, fuck this” valley. That opening scene in the diner alone is probably the peak of his creative writing and directing, it’s so good and sets up amazing expectations for the game that only manage to keep everything interesting and fun until you start fighting with furniture in your apartment. Could it have been better with more time and money? Maybe, but seeing how he botched Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls with all the dollars thrown at him keeps me skeptical. And don’t get me started on Omikron, a game you have to play almost perfectly to finish it.
His problem is infinite ambition with minimal ability to execute his vision. His writing is also pretty terrible as well. Bizarre Internet Demon that wants to kill the Golden Child with help of an Aztec Shaman and you have to defeat it in a DBZ simon-says quick-time battle? A murder mystery that straight up lies to you about a character you’re controlling? Not to mention it being filled with a half-abandoned attempt to tie in a psychic connection between the protagonist and the killer (which would have actually been a little interesting). If you think that’s fun, how about a game where you team up with your entangled ghost (I wonder who they are??) to stop the North Koreans from entering the Ghost Dimension? Omikron is probably his most ambitious title, creating a whole new world full of characters and culture, except the premise is entirely based on “You’re a videogamer taken into a new world through the game!” and it’s stretched itself across multiple gameplay mechanics that could have been great if they just focused on one of them.
And then we get into all of the bad sex scenes he wants to have in every game. You have Jaggy Triangle Cuckold Action, Magic Zombie Boning, Sad Dad Sex and Shower Girl, and then the creepy sexual assault scenes with ghost girl, who arguably has probably the most tasteful sex scene David Cage included (long build-up scene, two people that know each other for a while, fade to black) but it was still weird since you see this happen from the perspective of her linked ghost buddy. I understand the concept of “sex sells” and wanting to emulate the sex scenes from movies, but we’re still at the level of tech in videogames where two people kissing looks like plastic on plastic. I really can’t wait to see how he outdoes himself with robots with little agency.
He’s great in small bursts when he has complete control over what he’s making. The larger and more bloated they get, the worse it feels. He really should be doing small, 3-4 hour indie games. The first hour of Indigo Prophecy is one of the best things he’s ever done. The first hour of Omikron is interesting and kind of neat. Heavy Rain’s opening sequence is great at setting the tone and story. If he could focus and just keep up that level of interest and energy, he could make a really good game. He might actually be great at Episodic Content. Just get him away from big budget, big concept games.