As gamers, we are constantly on the lookout for the fresh, the new, the unique, and the significantly different. At the same time, we also appreciate the same ‘ol, same ‘ol, provided it's appropriately refined and polished. Therefore, we all greatly anticipate games with titles like Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Gran Turismo, and Halo. But at the same time, in order to truly reap the benefits of such a diverse bounty of video games, we also keep an eye on the charming, the oddly engaging, and the amazingly original. It’s why games like Katamari Damacy and Okami did so well, and it’s also the driving force behind an upcoming PS2 game, entitled Raw Danger.
For those of you who remember Disaster Report, Raw Danger is essentially a sequel to that moderately successful title. The former dropped you on a beautiful island, suddenly transformed into a chaotic disaster zone thanks to the aftershocks of a massive earthquake. Your only goal is to survive, but it would be a mistake to classify the game as “survival/horror,” which would lump it in with the likes of Resident Evil and Silent Hill. No, you’re not dodging zombies, you’re simply attempting to make it out alive, and the player quickly comes to understand just how fragile the human body is in such situations. You could even build rough tools for assistance in the game, all the time trying to uncover the true reason behind the island’s destruction.
Raw Danger follows a similar formula, but instead of being on a tropical island, you’re in a major city, unfortunately surrounded by mountains, rivers, and a massive ocean. We say “unfortunately” because the city is clearly a flood hazard, as torrential rains cause severe flooding, thereby leaving you with only one option: escape or drown. The concept is similar to Disaster Report, which has attained a small cult following, because you’ll have to think on your feet, be creative, and take advantage of your surroundings to ultimately reach safety. Throughout your harrowing adventure, you’ll have to deal with collapsing buildings, once strong bridges turned to kindling by the powerful rush of the dangerous floods, and of course, a city in chaos...which can present its own unique challenges.
Also similar to its predecessor, the game will boast an intriguing and important cast of characters. We’ll see Joshua Harwell, a college senior working as a waiter when the floods hit, Stephanie McMurrough, another college student whose family is quite well off, Gavin Goldstein, the city’s mayor, Sophia Briggs, a reporter, and the mysterious Ivan Kozlov, who is suffering from a serious bout of amnesia. There will be six playable characters in all, and another major bonus is quite clear: a large cast offers multiple opportunities for a branching storyline, which may carry several ominous overtones… According to the game’s fact sheet, players will soon be asking themselves, “did this flood really have to happen?”
Another one of the really intriguing parts about this game is the proposed gameplay. Due to the obvious presence of water - lots of water – Irem has taken the opportunity to implement some crucial and intensely realistic human aspects. For example, if you’re soaked to the skin, your body temperature and health will soon go on the decline. This means you’re going to have to find shelter and some way to scrounge up some food before either freezing or starving to death, and that is the kind of feature that should greatly add to the game’s overall appeal and authenticity. Furthermore, the characters can run, jump, climb, crawl, and even take over vehicles to reach safety.
But again, the water will dictate your actions. There’s no point in taking over that taxi if the water is already over the hood, now is there? Maybe you’ll have to fashion some sort of tool to escape a flooding room, or maybe there’s only one way out that will require a feat of physical ability; your life is on the line, and you have to be quick and alert. All of this makes us think there could be a great deal of open-endedness on display in Raw Danger, because there should be more than one way to save yourself. And yes, we know what you’re thinking- “if there’s a cohesive storyline, how much freedom can there really be?” Well, the good news is that many decisions you make will directly impact the outcome of the story, so that should lead to both experimenting and a desire to replay the game.
How good are your survival skills? What would you do in that sort of nigh-on-impossible situation? Can you help others and still locate clues as to the real reason behind the flooding? It can’t just be a natural disaster, can it? Throughout your adventure, you’ll catch snippets of the events going on around you via emergency reports, and of course, your own eyes. It’s going to be one hell of an environment, that’s for sure, and if they can pull it off, the developers will have produced a stirring and invigorating title that deserves your attention. Remember what we said about real gamers keeping an eye on original ideas like this...? Yeah, that means you.
The PS2 doesn’t just have God of War II at the end of its lifespan. One other March title shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you’re looking for something both different and potentially engrossing. We’ll certainly be interested to see how Raw Danger turns out!
2/2/2007 Ben Dutka