Developer: Quantic Dream
Release Date: 2/23/2010
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Heavy Rain really shows that a game’s story is important because that’s the main focus of Heavy Rain. The game play is simple, but the story is so deep and complex you’ll never want to put the controller down. Before you start thinking this is some awesome shooter or something it’s not. Fans of Indigo Prophecy will know exactly what this game is like. The story is a murder mystery about an Origami Killer who abducts children and drowns them in rain water (thus the title) and leaves strange traces such as orchids and origami figures. You play four characters throughout the story that is trying to find one father’s son (Ethan Mars who is the main character that you play) as well as an FBI agent, a journalist, and a private investigator.
The game starts out very slow and takes a couple of hours to really pick up. You start out with mundane tasks like getting dressed, brushing your teeth, fetching dishes, playing with your sons. All this is done through action commands that appear on-screen near items that you use the left analog stick for. Some actions require slow movement of the stick, some use the motion sensing, and some even have you holding buttons at the same time. The game is by no means an action game. It’s all about the story and you control every single action the four characters do.
The beauty of Heavy Rain is the fact that you can change the fate of a character without even knowing it. Miss an evidence file when investigating a scene as Norman Jayden, and something could seriously go wrong towards the end of the story. Using his ARI glasses and glove you get to virtually scan evidence files and find them. If you miss one it could turn sour towards the end of the game, or in the middle, or the very next chapter, but it all depends on you.
You always want to scan everything, use every action you see, and even read every thought you can. Reading the characters’ thoughts can help give you clues in a pinch especially on timed events. Some events are timed and if you don’t act fast and do the right thing it could change the whole story. There are even fight scenes where you have to press the correct buttons, and if you fail too much you can kill your character, and if the character dies they’re dead through the whole story.
The way the game changes is fascinating, every event even the tiniest one can change the fate of a character and this has never been done in this kind of detail. The game really forces you to think about your choices since there are no extra lives, and the fact that you can’t redo anything is what makes the game so exhilarating. This feels like you’re playing out a movie and you’re the puppeteer, but never actually messing anything up or getting involved too much to make it feel fake.
The game also looks astounding. This is some of the best facial animations, and skin textures ever in a game. The game looks truly real with some of the most high-tech next-gen graphics to date. You can see every pore on a characters’ face, every hair is individualized and never a flat texture. The lighting is amazing and so are the physics. This is also a true game to behold and look at, plus the voice acting is top-notch Hollywood stuff.
The game does have its issues though. The controls are a bit finicky when moving the character. You have a walk button and the camera shifts often so it changes the controls on you when it does. This can be a bit frustrating during time-sensitive events. Even though the action commands really put you in the game it’s not for everyone. It can be really slow at times, and some people just don’t like this kind of gameplay. There are a few technical glitches such as texture pop-up and I had the game completely lock up my system at one point. Other than this the game is excellent, it just needs a bit better pacing.
The game has multiple endings and finding out what would have happened if you did or didn’t do something can be very inviting to go back through again. There are a ton of trophies to unlock and some nice bonus content. So if you love stories, and pretty graphics then pick up Heavy Rain otherwise stay away.