You’re given the choice to back out of most challenges, but if you do, you have less chance of saving the boy. Some of the challenges are truly harrowing and the options you’re given would violate most people’s moral codes, but the question is always “How far would you go to save your child’s life”?
The other characters get tough choices, too. You can help the FBI agent kick his drug habit (or not) – on drugs he’s more efficient, but his addiction is literally killing him. You can stop the police bashing a suspect (or not), risk your life saving a woman from a sinking car (or just save yourself)… In one part I had to choose between snooping in a shoebox (containing evidence that would have blown the case apart), or administering emergency medication – I chose to save the guy’s life and lost the option to look in the box. Much of it is time-limited, so you’re making snap decisions under real pressure.
It lets you make lots of small, instinct-driven decisions as well – like when I was given a drink by a guy who really creeped me out, I chose not to drink it. Turns out the drink was drugged. Obviously much of the core storyline is set in stone, but the degree to which you can manipulate it is phenomenal. Apparently there’s 22 different endings.
[flickr-photo:id=4730034487,size=m] ~S&N Bouncer and Official Hitwoman for the Gutter Sistren~ That Australian bitch with the stupid accent and all the subtlety of a splatterfart