Heavy Rain – Review
Who knew origami could be so dangerousâ€¦
Heavy Rain is a dark, immersive and emotionally-engaging experience; one that expands on the earlier ideas of 2005â€™s Fahrenheit to create a sort of noir-thriller where decisions are always important and actions can cause life changing events.
Keeping with the most traditional game conventions where necessary, the gameplay is based around story, emotional involvement and the playerâ€™s decisions and interactions, rather than high-scores and ranking systems paving the way for combat and competition. Intuitive gameplay and controls are also crucial to the overall gaming experience ensuring that the game is mature but understandably accessible, and avoiding alienating players with obscure stats and complex interfaces.
In Heavy Rain you donâ€™t watch the story â€“ you play it. The dynamic narrative unfolds through the players actions instead of the traditional cut sceneÂ and every action has a consequence. The choices you make and the way you interact with other characters have repercussions throughout the story. With massive responsibility over the fates of the gameâ€™s characters, players will find Heavy Rain an emotional experience unlike any other. It dares to tackle subject matter and themes that are used only in films, shooting Heavy Rain into a league of its own ready for a new world of gamers.
The game’s main story opens with Ethan Mars, spending his life with his family. He later loses track of one of his sons, Jason, at a busy mall who is soon found outside on the street, where Ethan must jump to save him from an oncoming car. Jason is killed, while Ethan falls into a coma for six months. Two years after the accident, Ethan is suffering from depression, fear of crowds, and blackouts that can last for several hours. He and his wife have separated, and his remaining son, Shaun, seems quite distant from him. While at a park with Shaun, Ethan has another blackout, and wakes to find Shaun missing.
These happenings soon bring around the mysteries of the Origami killer who becomes more involved in the story from this point. Shaun’s disappearance is soon tied to the serial murders of the Killer. The criminal’s goal is to abduct a young boy during the rainy season of Autumn, after which they are found several days later, drowned in rainwater. FBI profiler Norman Jayden soon jumps into the story having come to assist the police with the Origami Killer, concludes that the victim is left in a place that fills with rainwater, and that they are found after 6 inches of rainfall. They then realize that they have less than three days to find Shaun.
Having lost another son, Ethan must do everything he can to save Shaun in which he progresses through trails given by the Origami killer that will test the very limits of Ethan’s mind. The trials present increasing risk as you proceed, from subjecting himself to physical pain to overcoming personal fears.
Even by completing these trials, Ethan’s physical and mental health is still dwindeling which is where Madison Paige comes in who finds Ethan passed out on the floor. Having learn about Ethanâ€™s involvement with the Origami killer Madison begins her own investigation into who may have arranged the trials.
During these events, a veteran private investigator, Scott Shelby begins visiting several of the victims’ parents for information, and obtains several items that relate to the Origami Killer. One parent, Lauren Winter, insists on helping him, seeking closure on the matter.
Ultimately, it is revealed in a flashback that one of the most unsuspected characters in the game is the Origami Killer. While a young child, he and his brother John play around a construction site, when John unexpectedly becomes trapped in a pipe filling with rainwater. The eventual Origami killer tries to gain the help of his drunken husk of a father but to no avail, and John eventually dies. Years later, the Origami killer creates these trials aiming to seek out a father determined to do what his own father could not.
Heavy rain is a very unique game not only in graphical terms but its use of the innovative control scheme. The R2 trigger on the PlayStation 3 controller will not only move the character in any direction but it will take advantage of the button’s analogue function, allowing the user to control the speed of the character’s movement by pressing harder or softer on the button. The left analogue stick will control the movement of the character’s head and the direction the character moves in relation to where the character is looking. This ability frees the movement of the character from the perspective of the camera. The rest of the game is played using a series of context sensitive actions such as picking up a bottle in a grocery store and hitting a robber on the head with it or pressing the “X” button to call out certain characterâ€™s names, and quick time events, normally for chase and combat sequences. Players are also able to bring up a selection of their character’s current thoughts by holding the L2 button and pressing corresponding buttons to say or do what they’re thinking.
Action sequences, such as when the player is being attacked, will be played out as quick time events as if you are watching a film. Players will be presented with various symbols, requiring them to either press buttons, move the right analogue stick a certain way, or shake/tilt the controller. Failure to execute these commands take the story along a different path, and certain mistakes can even lead to a character’s death.
If a character dies, the game does not end, and play control switches to another character, with the events of the previous character’s death affecting the story. In the event that all four characters die, there is a conclusion to the story and the game ends.
As you know by now, the game is pretty much set out as a film so upon loading the game, you’re greeted with a close-up shot of a character of the story who usually glances nervously around the screen. You are able to clearly see the detail in every pore on their face, every gleam and twitch of their eyes, and every glisten of sweat that trickles down their forehead. Amazingly it is all in real-time, cancelling out the traditional pre-rendered visual graphics of many games. Part of this magic lies in the details where the developers actually motion-capture eye movements from the actors for their virtual actors, giving the game a jump up in visual realism.
The soundtrack fitted with the varying themes throughout the game in perfect sequence. At times the music can make you feel what Ethan is feeling, most importantly the feeling of loss. Although most of the music is quite tense and puts you in a state of confusion and fear, there are parts of the game where you are given a break from all the negativity and are treated with some comforting music to make you feel at balance within the game and with yourself.
A very immersive and interesting game that interacts with the player and your decisions within the game. The story could be a little longer but since the replay value is so high, a single playthrough leaves you wondering what would have happened if you had made other decisions that perhaps you wanted to make beforehand or may have been to anxious to choose fearing the consequences.
Overall I give it a 10/10
Heavy Rain is the place where action gaming meets film-noir head-on, in an adventure unlike any other. A game where your mind, emotions and human nature will be put to the test like never before, Heavy Rain takes interactive entertainment down a dark, compelling path rarely ventured in the gaming world.