Heavy Rain Review
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Quantic Dream's ambition is truely realized through a game that has interesting controls, stunning graphics, and a masterfully accomplished change to current gaming trends.
- The presentation of the engrossing story
- The deep and interesting characters
- The edge-of-your-seat action played through an interesting control mechanism
- While the graphics are incredible, there are some animation issues that draw attention away from the story
- The lack of re-playability beyond the desire to see how your actions change the story
- The fact some command prompts can be difficult to see
A simple question is posed while playing Heavy Rain: How far will you go to save someone you love? But the game offers so many more questions than that little tug on emotions. How can you truly care about imaginary characters in a videogame? How can nearly every step of your gameplay experience impact the game’s narrative? How do we envision real life actions in a game? But the biggest question presented by Heavy Rain is how do we play videogames now, and how will we play them in the future? After playing through and completing Quantic Dream’s narrative masterpiece, we are left contemplating these very questions. As we look back on our experience playing the game, and the questions and thoughts it presented, all we can say is “wow.” It’s not flawless, of course, but since very few games can leave this sort of impact, we are confident Heavy Rain is a game that will be remembered and talked about for a long, long time.
Heavy Rain is a PlayStation 3 exclusive developed by Quantic Dream, the French studio that brought us Indigo Prophecy (known as Fahrenheit outside of North America), released on last gen consoles. Like Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain focuses on interactive storytelling through onscreen button triggers. Heavy Rain’s primary focus is on the story, or better yet, how the story is told. It’s through these onscreen triggers that the characters you control take action and make decisions.
The story in Heavy Rain is that of a serial-killer murder mystery. When a young boy, Shaun Mars, goes missing, the community is in horror as it appears he could be the next victim of The Origami Killer. This serial killer is responsible for the death of eight boys – kidnapping them from public places, drowning them in rain water, and leaving an orchid on the chest of the victim and an origami figurine in the boy’s hand. These murders have been taking place for more than three years, and while hundreds of suspects have been interrogated, no arrests have been made. To help catch the killer, the local police call upon an FBI profiler, Norman Jayden, who is outfitted with an experimental tool called Added Reality Interface, abbreviated ARI. With this tool, he can collect and analyze evidence and videos in a sort of virtual reality.
Neither the police nor the FBI agent are alone in searching for the serial killer. Scott Shelby, a former cop turned private eye, has been hired by the victim’s families to find the killer. He has a great sense of humor for someone who works with the victim’s families, but he’s also rough around the edges and not afraid to use brute force to obtain necessary information. Before we go much further, we should make sure you know we will not spoil the story, so don’t worry about any major spoilers being revealed.
The missing boy’s father, Ethan Mars, is an architect who lost his ten-year-old son Jason in 2009, literally. Ethan tried to save his son’s life after he wandered off at a mall. Jumping in front of the car that ultimately killed Jason put Ethan in a coma for several months, and had long lasting mental and emotional impacts on the man. The other main character, Madison Paige, is a photographer suffering from a serious case of insomnia. Sometimes, the only way she can find peace and rest is by staying in hotel rooms. Her connection with the story, The Origami Killer, and the rest of the case are revealed after a couple hours of gameplay.
You take control of all four characters in Heavy Rain. So few games balance the development of multiple characters, but Heavy Rain does it perfectly. It’s these characters that you care about and root for throughout the game. One scene you’ll play as Ethan, preparing for his son’s birthday party, and in another scene, you’ll play as Madison, erotically dancing to catch a special someone’s attention. There are moments you’ll play as other characters, but it’s always in a very limited way. All four main characters have their ticks and quirks, and while none are perfect, you’ll find compassion and affection for each one. Few games provide that genuine interest and care for ... (continued on next page)