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A World Shaped by Bending Storylines
Experience a gripping psychological crime thriller filled with innumerable twists and turns, where even the smallest actions and choices can cause dramatic consequences. The hunt is on for the Origami Killer, named after his calling card of leaving folded paper shapes on victims. Four characters, each with their own motives, take part in a desperate attempt to stop the killer from claiming a new victim. Heavy Rain is a cinematic and evolving thriller from Quantic Dream, the developer behind the critically acclaimed Fahrenheit. Dealing with a range of adult themes, the game revolves around a sophisticated plot and strong narrative threads that explore a complex moral proposition. You assume the role of multiple characters, with very different backgrounds, motivations and skills, in a world shaped by Bending Storylines - a dynamic narrative design where your actions and decisions will shape your story.
- A unique emotional experience that makes you "feel" as if you're IN a psychological crime thriller
- Stunning graphics, animation and technology combine with a strong narrative that delivers a movie-like experience
- Mature content, reflecting a realistic world setting that explores powerful themes
- Accessible gameplay via intuitive, contextual controls and interface
Top customer reviews
These games fall into the category of "choose-your-own-adventure". The puzzles provided per-se aren't particularly challenging, so what I evaluate these games on is the deepness and richness of the content: how often are the decisions meaningful? How many different ways can the story end? Does the story provide emotional impact? Is the story coherent?
By those standards Heavy Rain is outstanding. In fact, if you own a PS3, just stop reading, find yourself a copy, and play!
Still with me? OK. Heavy Rain is a story about parenthood. It starts with Ethan Mars' interaction with his family, and a defining incident in which he fails to save his son from a traffic collision. Years later, we find him depressed and subject to occasional blackouts. During one of those blackouts, his second son disappears, kidnapped by the "origami killer", a serial killer who focuses on killing children. The rest of the game follows Ethan's attempt to rescue his son and uncover who the origami killer is.
There are 3 other playable characters: Madison Paige, a reporter, Scott Shelby, a private detective also investigating the case, and Jayden, the FBI agent assigned to the case. The viewpoint of the game shifts between these playable characters, and you see them cross-paths, or even watch one storyline uncover clues while another storyline is oblivious.
The script is exceedingly well written. The characters are believable, and their interaction choices don't leave me frustrated. Furthermore, when the reveal happens, not only was I surprised, when I thought back to all the clues previously provided I felt that the mystery was fair: I had enough clues to figure out who the killer was, but the misdirection and setup had distracted me enough that I didn't put them together. This is exceedingly hard to do, and Heavy Rain succeeds.
What's even more amazing is the game play. In The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, if you fail at one of the "game" section, the game restarts at a checkpoint and then you play it over until you succeed. Heavy Rain throws away such conceits. If you fail at one point, your viewpoint character can die but the game carries on! The story changes, and you can get a different ending. I'm not a great game player, so by the time I finished the game two of my characters have died, and poor Ethan Mars was a mess of injuries. But the ending still satisfied me and didn't leave me feeling as though I was cheated of storyline that I should have observed but didn't.
What's more, the game did a fantastic job making me feel what the characters were going through. Because lives were at stake and because I could fail, the story was intense. At several points I winced as the killer put Ethan Mars through trials to see how far a father would go to save his son. Whenever I failed one of those trials, I felt devastated. Some of those scenes had me shaking while pushing buttons on the controller, events that never happened in other games.
When I bought the game, I thought I'd sell it when I'd finished. Now that I'm done, I realize that like a good movie, it's a game I wouldn't mind playing again, especially since you can get different endings. (If you want to shorten the time it takes to watch all the different endings, you should save frequently so you can try both success and failure scenarios --- I wasn't aware of this feature until it was too late) I liked this game enough that I'll probably hunt down Quantic Dream's other games in the future.
What are the nits in the game? The controls are a little painful: sometimes you have to hold down multiple buttons and then shake the controller in order to get certain things to happen. If your controller is broken in that the six-axis sensor is inconsistent this can drive you nuts. This game definitely depends on a low latency screen as well. My plasma screen even in game mode made this game harder because of the induced latency. Being a PS3 game, the graphics are fantastic for that era but of course cannot compare to the PS4. I'm looking forward to Quantic Dream's future games on the PS4. Finally, the adult situations and nudity means that this game is unsuitable for pre-teens.
But despite these faults, I'd say that this game is exhibit A in why a dedicated home console (especially Sony's) makes sense. You can't get games of this quality on any other platform, and it's clear that Quantic Dream's efforts are of a level of maturity, sophistication, and emotional impact that makes other efforts on competing platforms look like they're multiple decades behind. Highly recommended!
- Characters and Story -
The 'game' starts out with Ethan, a middle aged (maybe early 30's) father of two waking up in his very nice home getting ready for his son Joshua's 10th birthday. You do a few things (shower, eat, mess around before his kids and wife get back home), throughout this time, the game teaches you the controls.
After you've done all that, you go to the mall (not sure if it's the same day or a few days later, I'd assume the latter) and your wife takes Shaun, your youngest to get shoes. You eventually lose sight of Joshua and must find him, the game treats this as a very serious situation, as would any parent of a lost child and the camera is very jostling.
After a tragic event, Ethan's life crumbles (I'm sure you can guess what happened). His wife divorces him and they split custody of Shaun. Ethan begins having periods in which he blackouts and reawakens to remember nothing, this causes him to lose his Joshua, and he suspects the Origami Killer, a serial killer who's murdered 7 kids over the last 2 years, to be involved.
The game is split into a few playable characters, Ethan, Madison (a photographer), Norman (an FBI agent) and Scott (a Private Investigator). Each of which have some connection or desire to find the Killer for their own reasons.
- Graphics -
This was a middle life game, so the graphics aren't as top of the line as newer games, but they still look pretty good. Some of the textures are half-assed, but most of the things such as expressions and details to the characters faces (hair, eyes, mouth) are very well done, in fact they were motion captured, so you can expect very realistic movement and looks.
- Controls -
The controls are a bit odd and take getting used to, for example, you don't simply hold the joystick to move, you hold R2 and use the joystick to turn. When interacting with something, you'll be given a prompt (slide the stick this way or that way). The game is very QTE (Quick Time Even) oriented, you'll often have to press, mash or pull the controller/buttons quickly to execute a command. The thing that sets this game apart from other games that use QTE's (like Resident Evil for example) is that if you fail a QTE, you won't die right away, in fact you're given several chances to recover, you may miss a series of QTE's before actually dying, how fast you respond effects what happens to the character and therefore the story.
- Audio -
Most of the game is well-done, however some characters (like Ethan) are very mono tone or unenthusiastic), when he's looking for his son, he'll shout his name as if his life weren't in mortal danger, he always seems to say it in a happy way regardless of the danger.
Music is rather heart-wrenching at times and they play the right music at the right time, sometimes low and quiet and sometimes louder with more base. This helps add to the ambiance of the area you are in.
Sound effects are very realistic, especially the rain. However I was very disappointed when I shot someone, the gun sounded like a firecracker, a small one at that. Other than that one occurrence though, I've been very happy with the sounds.
- Other -
Even with the few shortcomings the game has, it is an overall enjoyable experience. If you're a fan of these types of games, I suggest buying it (for the cheap price it is now, there's no reason to not play it). If you're on the fence and need a similar game to try, I suggest Indigo Prophecy, it's much more dated, but made by the same people and also has an amazing story and similar mechanics.
+ Great Story
+ Interesting Mechanics
+ Many possible endings
+ Very emotionally driven
- On rare occasions, very poor VO
- Might be a bit too many QTE's for some
I'm a super casual gamer. I don't like shooters, but I do like psychological thriller games like Heavy Rain, and especially Beyond: Two Souls. I love the games that Quantic puts out.
Anyway, this game is like watching a movie, with the user hitting a series of buttons to do actions. Fight scenes are button combos, that's it. If you like full control of everything your character does, this game might not be for you. But if you like the "video game as movie" genre, then you will love this.