You will note I don't say "best" in the headline; I say "important." Personally, I do believe Heavy Rain is one of the very best, but that's not necessarily the point here.
In an industry that continually requires an influx of fresh ideas to remain progressive and interesting, one needs to look to titles that push interactive entertainment into new realms. And contrary to what many pessimists believe, we've seen plenty of innovative and original games this generation, especially in smaller packages on digital platforms. Thatgamecompany are pioneers in this respect.
Above all else, though, I think Quantic Dream's masterpiece is the most important and significant achievement of the generation for the following reasons: Firstly, it was well-received and sold extremely well for a new IP that's also exclusive to only one platform. The reason this is critical is because gaming is a business and unfortunately, this means that if you want to make waves, if you wish to make an impact, if you expect other designers to take cues from you, then you have to be a success. I'm sorry, but that's the way it works. Secondly, the man in charge, David Cage, seems to hold the industry's best interests at heart.
Thirdly and lastly, this goes beyond the gameplay and the style. After all, in truth, Heavy Rain wasn't drastically different than Indigo Prophecy in terms of structure (although it was obviously far more advanced). This is about a concept, a philosophy, a strong belief that interactive entertainment is about more than "winning" or "beating" something. It's about the experience itself. It doesn't matter what you thought of the Heavy Rain story or controls; the point is that a valiant attempt was made at what the developers called an "interactive drama," and that's precisely what we need to see in the new generation. As Cage said, we need ideas , not just more power.
I suppose one could make an argument for the Uncharted titles because they beautifully blend storytelling and interactive fun in a package so complete that it's just mind-blowing, but… Look, it's still a third-person shooter at its core. We needed a clear, shining beacon of something completely different; a theme to embrace that leads us to loftier heights. And that's exactly what Heavy Rain did this generation. Now it's just a matter of moving forward.
Related Game(s): Heavy Rain