For the first time in a while I’ve found myself glued to my PlayStation 3 screens as I am emmersed in a new world and new characters. Heavy Rain is a breath of fresh air. I was desperate to sing its praises when I first played the game, now I’ve finished it I’m much more equipped to still be singing its praises. While its not a game for everyone (what is?), if it catches you, you’ll be drawn inside not to surface for a while.
This is a game that’s more like an interactive movie where you control four characters on the hunt for The Origami Killer, a serial murderer who takes children, drowns them and then leaves them with an origami figure on their person. Many twists and turns in the story and a lot of emotional scenes will take place before you get to the grand finale of this whodunnit mystery which has been designed to be more open ended and decision driven than any other game previous.
Heavy Rain’s gameplay is as ingenious as it is minialistic. You use the analogue sticks and six axis motion to carry out a lot of tasks that play out through the game. Conversations are completely down to your own choices, although you’ll end up following the same path and they are chosen with the symbol buttons. The majority of the games big sequences are quick-time events – always quite intuitive with what you press and never hugely overbaring. This is also made easier with the difficulty settings. If you’re a console newbie, the time is lengthened and button choices minimised. The hardest difficulty will have commands popping up everywhere. That is it in terms of gameplay, but there is so much more to it.
The way in which your decisions can effect what else is going on is really quite exciting. There’s plenty of endings to see and you can quite easily kill off some or all the playable characters to change the ending. Similarly you can change their personalities throughout the game and thus have different scenes or conversations with others.
The story is well constructed although there are a few big gaffe’s that crop up and even I who was in such avidness to play the game through laughed and questioned one scene with Maddison in the old peoples ward at the end. Apart from that though, the big twist I didn’t see coming and I just found it a game that I couldn’t put down. The story is divided into chapters that are relatively short in length so you can stop and take a break after each one and you play one character per chapter.
Heavy Rain looks amazing. The main characters’ faces are almost photo realistic in the loading screens and in game the motion capture that took place shines, especially for some of the big quick time battles and set pieces. There are a few chapters in a train station, a club and a mansion that particular fill the screen beautifully.
Voice acting here is perfect. Everyone is really on top form, and the lady from the big first concept trailer is back as Lauren (who I’d wished they’d made into a playable segment for just a small part) and the rest are equally up to her standard. The music’s underscore is equally as emotive. The orchestration is perfectly pitched and the themes for each character are well placed and add to the drama while not being too catchy. A new standard for music/cut scene intergration for interactive movies really.
The RePlay Factor
This will really depend on how big a fan you are of collecting everything. The game has 7 completely different endings, but about 17 different epilogue sections that you can get. You don’t really have to go back to the start if you just want to change a few things as you can pick from which chapter you want to play from, but you can do if you want to. Trophies are designed so you need multiple playthroughs to get them all and there are also plenty of unlockables for doing scenes in certain ways. The killer never changes so the main arc of the story stays the same, but its interesting to change the outcomes.
~A real emotional experience if you get into it
~Fantastic characterisation in both graphics and sound
~Completely unique so far in this console generation
~Not for everyone as its a passive gameplay experience
~Although I had none, a lot of people have complained about bugs throughout the game
Heavy Rain, like its predecessor Farenheit, is more about the story and the characters than actually doing things. If you get embroiled in what’s taking place, or if you’re a story driven gamer – this will be a golden game for you and I was literally up all night playing this game to see it through willingly. However, if you want to be running around in team deathmatches in other games with no emotional backbone, you might wonder what the fuss is about. I got it. I loved it. I will come back to it time and time again.