GAMING GREATS: Heavy Rain (2010)

Becky hopes to crack a murder case in Quantic Dream’s cult PlayStation exclusive. 

Who made it?: Quantic Dream (Developer), Sony Computer Entertainment (Publisher).

Genre: Action-Adventure/Interactive Drama.

Platforms: PlayStation 3.

Format: Blu-ray.

Release date: 24 February 2010 (UK).

Due to my last couple of reviews focusing on classic games, I thought I might even the playing field a bit by reviewing a more modern alternative. Generally-speaking, I am a very fussy person when it comes to playing games; unless I have read a substantial amount of information or been heavily recommended a title by a friend, I rarely purchase new games, preferring to stick to ones I have already played and know I will enjoy. My main reasoning behind choosing the game focused on today is that it was one I had heard little about, yet the simplicity of the cover and the storyline blurb caught my attention, so I decided to buy it there and then. Needless to say, the cult classic Heavy Rain has been far from disappointing. So, settle in, put your feet up, brew a cuppa, and join me as I try to find shelter amidst the emotional turmoil this game presents.

For those who have not played it, Heavy Rain is very hard to describe in terms of how it will all pan out, simply because every choice made in the game is unique to you as a player, and every choice also has a consequence. So, what my play-through of the game results in may well differ to yours, and it is this style of gameplay which I adore. Very similar to my youth – where I would read those books where you were given options to proceed in your adventure and you had to deal with the consequences of your decision – Heavy Rain, created by Quantic Dream, brings all of this into a game format which can be matched up in style to The Wolf Among Us or The Walking Dead by Telltale.

The game focuses on several characters, though largely the main focal point is the Mars family; Ethan, Grace, Sean and Jason. Ethan being the main protagonist of the game. As a player, you take control and decide what actions Ethan makes. The change from being a friendly, playful and loving father to the divorced and somewhat depressed Ethan after the incident with Jason is sizeable (I dare not expand on this due to spoilers, but those who have played this game will know what I mean). The story centres around a series of kidnappings and murders which have taken place in Ethan’s town. Other characters are controllable, too: Scott Shelby, a former police officer and marine who suffers from asthma but who has taken up the occupation as a private investigator; Norman Jayden, an FBI profiler sent to help in the local police force in the case; and Madison Paige, a young photo journalist living alone in the city and suffering from insomnia and nightmares. The game allows you to  grow so attached to their personalities that it makes witnessing their hardships traumatic. Ethan especially.

The controls and mechanics of Heavy Rain are easy enough to follow; I have the Move edition, so it involves waving the controller around like a mad woman at times. While I don’t really find it necessary, with the Move, the cutscenes feel more interactive. Bar the D-pad, practically every button is used in this game on the PS3 with the aforementioned inclusion of waving your controller up and down or side to side, and generally feeling glad your other half is at work and not there to witness you help Ethan brush his teeth in part of the opening scene. Nor motioning for him to go to the toilet (that scene took me by surprise), or the motioning for the shower where Ethan promptly strips and you are presented with a proper cutscene of Ethan’s back… and bottom; something which my immature mind giggled at with a  Minion’s voice in my head.

So, what is the general storyline? As mentioned above, there has been some kidnappings and murders of young children, specifically young boys during the heavy rain season in Autumn. Due to the crimes largely going unsolved, the bodies are found several days later in a remote location with the cause of death being a drowning. The killer is nicknamed “The Origami Killer” as an origami figure is quite literally found in the hands of the child. I hasten to add, if you’re looking for a fun and lighthearted kind of game, look elsewhere, as the twists and turns in the plot do not make for easy watching/playing. It is a very serious game and there are times where I think it is all a little too serious. While the storyline is brilliant, it does become hard to keep up momentum with the game due to its sobriety. Having said that, it is very hard to make characters laugh and joke in a release which focuses on the drowning of young boys. With Sean and Jason being Grace and Ethan’s two young sons, I’ll let you put two and two together with how each character is used in this game.

Heavy Rain provides so much depth to each of the characters you control, and as I mentioned above, each action you choose has a specific consequence, and I can guarantee that nine times out of ten, it will not be a pleasant repercussion . So, it makes you pause and think through the possibilities of what could happen. I must admit, the first time I played this game, I did not finish it with the prospect of having killed off three main faces with the possibility of having killed a fourth, too. Being an emotional person, I was naturally a bit wary of reloading the game and trying again.

It is so hard to write positive things about a game which deals with such negative topics, however, I hope I have succeeded in doing so, as the emotional Heavy Rain is definitely a good game. I have never felt more connected with digital characters than I have with several in this game, and if you have yet to pick it up and it sounds like your cuppa, then I would strongly recommend it as you will not be disappointed! The artwork and graphics, while a bit slow, are very lifelike (almost like a beginner’s attempt at the realistic work seen in The Last of Us), the music is plodding to add further atmosphere, and the personalities are just so complex that it’s hard for you to not get attached to them! In general, I would rate the game a good 7 out of 10. I’m going to get back to it and hope I have achieved a happy ending. If not, I am faced with the possibility of having to go through all the trauma again…

Useless Trivia

(Via Wikipedia)
  • A prequel, Heavy Rain: The Taxidermist, was released as DLC on the PlayStation network.
  • While the city remains nameless within the game, it is strongly influenced by the environs of Philadelphia.
  • New Line Cinema and Quantic Dream Pictures obtained rights for a film adaptation a few days after the technology demo from E3 2006 was shown. The rights were later purchased in an auction by Unique Features, a production company formed by two former New Line executives, Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. Shaye and Lynne had purchased the rights to the film with their own funds despite having “first look” rights in place with Warner Bros., who had bought New Line prior to their departure.  The film has been fast-tracked by Warner Bros. and David Milch, writer for NYPD Blue and Deadwood, will be adapting the game for the big screen. Shaye stated that Milch’s “incredible ability to transform intense and complex storylines into gripping, popular drama makes him the perfect partner” for the film adaptation.

Becky Lenton

Recent graduate from an English degree, Becky has taken to putting her writing skills to good use. Writing game reviews, she hopes to one day get into the gaming industry. When that day will be however, no one knows.

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