Heavy Rain User Review
I had been dying to play this title for quite some time. In fact, I almost pre-ordered it before its release from the U.K. just so I could receive a super-cool special edition (something that I should’ve went ahead with considering it’s now going for hundreds of dollars on eBay).
Heavy Rain took years to arrive. It first appeared in 2006 as a demo for Sony’s then-brand-new PS3 and from there vanished until it was finally announced a couple years ago. There’s a reason it took so long to arrive, too; Heavy Rain’s a masterpiece.
Developed by Quantic Dream and written/directed by David Cage, Heavy Rain asks what seems like a simple question — “How far would you go to save someone you love?” As the story progresses, you learn that this question is not as simple as you may have thought.
The game follows four main protagonists, you being able to play as each one in a game best described as an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure novel. These characters consist of the following: Ethan Mars, a father rushing against time to save his son from the clutches of a ruthless serial killer known as the Origami Killer; Madison Paige, a journalist who’s not only very smart and dedicated to her job but who’s also quite willing to flash her goodies off to please all the horny man-boys out there who are playing as her; Norman Jayden, a cool, calm and collected FBI agent who uses futuristic eye-wear to help him solve crimes and drugs to keep him cool, calm and collected; and Scott Shelby, a pudgy, kick-ass P.I. who has been hired by the families of past victims of the Origami Killer.
Throughout the campaign (it took me roughly eleven hours to complete my first playthrough), you flip back and forth between each character as you watch the story unfold before your eyes. Oh, and what a story it is. This is quite possibly the most mature, realistic game I’ve played in my life. It keeps you focused the entire way through and doesn’t let go of your attention until the bitter end. Of course, there’s also eighteen different endings and it’ll take you a minimum of seven playthroughs to see them all. Then again, you don’t need to play the entire game from beginning to end seven times to see those endings; you only have to start back from certain points as each chapter saves individually for you on the main menu. Like I said, this really is a Choose Your Own Adventure.
The story is essentially a mystery. Not only are you working against time to find young Shawn Mars but you’re also working to figure out the identity of the Origami Killer. There’s plenty of options to whom the killer may be and you’ll definitely keep second-guessing yourself until the big reveal. I personally guessed the identity of the killer but then I changed my mind… and then changed my mind again… and again… and then finally smacked myself when I found out who it was for not keeping my original choice.
Time for the breakdowns; on the pro-side of things, the acting, both the voices and the models, is phenomenal. It’s clear that David Cage had an ultimate vision and I’d definitely say he succeeded as far as his actors/actresses go.
The score is amazing and absolutely chilling. It completes each scene so well and is gorgeously composed. The script is very well-done, too. It flows smoothly and keeps you intrigued all the way through. It also has no problem tugging at your heart-strings when needed. That being said, some of the dialogue was a little hokey at times but I was able to overlook that to see the bigger picture of things.
There’s obviously a lot more positives than negatives when it comes to this game but even though I consider it a masterpiece, it still has its flaws. For one thing, there was a few plot-holes that were left open. I won’t go into detail to what those would be because I don’t want to spoil anything but if you’re interested in knowing, feel free to contact me and I’ll share my thoughts on the matter.
Another thing that was a little iffy with me was the control. It didn’t so much bother me that you have to hold down the R2 trigger in order to walk the entire time but I did find it wasn’t always 100% responsive. I’d find myself walking past entrances even though I had technically stopped the walk command. I’d find myself walking in unwanted circles and not in the direction needed. This was more or less due to the fixed camera angles changing while walking. I also found it hard to pull off some of the button combos. For example, pressing down square, triangle, L2 and then circle is a little tough to execute. Luckily enough for me, I’m a big guy and I have large hands. My girlfriend or my 5-foot-tall best friend would most likely have difficulty considering their much smaller hands, though.
Once I completed my first playthrough (all in one sitting, too, may I add), I found myself so emotionally drawn to these characters that I wasn’t ready to let go. Hence began my mission towards obtaining a platinum trophy. Now, you need to know something about me here; I’m the kind of guy who’ll play through a game on easy just so he can experience the story. Once that playthrough is done, I almost always move on to the next game, platinum trophy or not. Before receiving my inevitable platinum trophy for Heavy Rain, I was only standing at a grand total of six platinums, 75% of those being from puzzle or trivia games. Now I stand at wonderful total of seven.
That platinum, while not exactly hard to acquire, is incredibly time-consuming to receive, though. The gold trophy for All Endings had me going bonkers by the end. I was SO sick of playing through the same chapters that I probably could’ve did my usual routine of quitting and moving on to the next game. I stuck with it, though, and I’m glad I did. I felt such an incredible sense of accomplishment when I heard the final “bing” and saw the platinum trophy icon pop up.
That was it; I was done with the game. Well, maybe not… I had one more stop to make. I went on to the PlayStation Store and, for $4.99, bought myself the Heavy Rain downloadable content, The Heavy Rain Chronicles: Episode One - The Taxidermist.
Once the download was complete, I loaded up the episode and continued on. This episode is SUPER short. I put ‘super’ in caps there because I want to emphasize that this is really, REALLY short. I completed my first playthrough in 15 minutes. Considering the whole episode takes place in one house, it flies by rather quickly. There’s still six endings to receive for the episode, though, so you’re really looking at around one hour to 100% complete it. The endings aren’t very satisfying, though. Rather than unlocking a cinematic video like in the main game, all you unlock here is a newspaper clipping with the headline mentioning the way you ended off the episode. Also unsatisfying was the fact that The Taxidermist again stars Madison Paige but uses a different voice actress for her. If you just finished the main game, the difference in the two voices for Madison is very noticeable. When it was all said and done, I was highly disappointed with the DLC and wouldn’t recommend anyone to spend the additional $5 for it.
Even though I was displeased with this episode, I’m probably even more-so displeased that Quantic Dream canceled development on future episodes so they could make Heavy Rain compatible with the PlayStation Move, Sony’s new motion device. It’s strange when you play an episode entitled ‘Episode One’ and then that ends up being the only one ever to be released. Considering I own a PlayStation Move, I figured I’d try out the new control scheme with the main game. Personally, I wasn’t very impressed and found the game much easier to play with the regular controller. Everyone will have a different opinion on this matter, though, but that’s mine.
Heavy Rain is something that you’ve never played before and, sadly, probably won’t play again for a very long time. Considering its surprising sales figures, though, you could always hope that another developer may try out this interactive drama style of gaming somewhere down the road. Due to the masterfulness (I don’t know if that’s a word but I’m making it one for this) of this production and its completely unconventional style of gameplay, I’d gladly honour Heavy Rain with the title of 2010 GAME OF THE YEAR. Give it a shot. Even if you decide that you don’t want to replay it over and over again to receive all the endings, I can guarantee that you’ll still enjoy yourself and maybe have even, dare I say it, grown as a gamer. If any game of 2010 deserves a half a day of your life, Heavy Rain is it.
***NOTE: My opinion of the DLC and Move support does not effect the final rating that I have given Heavy Rain.***
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.