Top critical review
75 of 95 people found this helpful
Not as much fun as I expected
on May 6, 2013
I bought Heavy Rain after years of indecision - it dropped to a price that I thought was reasonable so I stumped up the cash and waited with eager anticipation. I received the game on Thursday, and I finished it on Saturday. That's not to say that I played it constantly - I would estimate that I played it for less than 15 hours, and maybe as few as 10. If I had paid full price I would have been extremely disappointed, and even at $20 I'm not sure that I got my moneys worth.
Yes, you'll hear arguments about there being 17 different endings, however, those endings are 17 cutscenes that are strung together at game completion, depending on who lived or died during the game, as well as a couple of other choices you may have made - meaning that in any giving completion you'll see something like 5 of the 'endings'. I don't think it's worth playing through again simply to see a slightly different ending - the game is very linear with almost no deviation from the set story, so the gameplay experience will remain the same through each playthrough.
Stylistically the game is stunning and incredibly atmospheric - possibly one of the most atmospheric games I've ever played. At times you kind of believe that you're watching a film noir, but don't sit back and marvel in the beauty, as you may have to press a button at the right time mid movie.
This leads me to my major grumble about the game - the linearity of it; the passive role that you, the player, take for much of the game and the lack of decisions that you have to make. The challenge is not a cerebral one - there is no puzzle solving whatsoever. It's more of a press the right button(s) at the right time or fail kind of challenge (it's called QTE) - and I often felt like a contortionist trying to get all the buttons pressed - in one scene I even had to use my tongue to get the final button press. Also, I sometimes had the hardest time making the characters walk where I wanted them to - they seemed to get an attack of the stupids and walk into walls or tables - this tended to happen as the camera angle switched, or the camera angle was such that it was hard to judge distances and object placement.
It was also a little pedestrian and pointless at times - to give you an example, one scene has you making scrambled eggs for your sidekick. It's the only thing you can do in the scene you basically have to walk to the kitchen, and perform the right controls to get the eggs out, get the pan, turn the gas on stir the eggs and flip them onto a plate. You can't skip this - you have to make the eggs before you can get to the meat of the scene, which is the next clue in finding the killer - except you're not involved in the actual puzzle of finding the killer, you just watch that part.
There are some decisions that you have to make in the game, but it seems that most conversation choices that you make have little impact on that game in general (I say most, because that are a few that impact the endings.) When I say linear I mean that at the end of any scene the same scene will always follow - there are no divergent paths in the game, unless one of the characters dies. If you play to the end, and all of your characters survived to that point, then you've pretty much seen every scene in the game.
Maybe to give you some context about the games I enjoy, I tend to like long games, with lots of side quests that are non-linear in nature. I should also explain what I mean by non-linear - I like to be able to make choices about where I go next and what I do, and what order I complete things in. I don't mind that I'm going through a linear story per-se, but I want to feel in control. I didn't get any of that in Heavy Rain.
I like the GTA series, Skyrim, FPS games, Lost Cause 2, Portal 2, Assassins Creed series and I play maybe 20 hours a week. I add this so you can maybe judge whether you'll like Heavy Rain, based on whether you and I like the same games.
I really wanted to love this game, but I just didn't. Very atmospheric, gritty and suspenseful but too much of a movie and not enough of a game for me - and far too short.