The emotional driven, Heavy Rain, developed by Quantic Dream and published by SCEE is finally here after their teaser debut from E3 2006. Your morals will be tested immediately and you’ll quickly find yourself immersed thanks to the graphically charged cinematic storyline and unique decision based scenarios. The gritty camera scenes and musical scores add to this dark psychological thriller and you’ll swear you’re controlling movie actors. But this is not the first psychological thriller directed by David Cage, he and Quantic Dream also developed 2005’s PS2 hit Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in US). Five years have passed and now David Cage has the opportunity to present his latest masterpiece on the PS3. In Heavy Rain, your smallest decisions can change everything making each play one-of-a-kind and different every time. There are no right or wrongs, but instead choices. Choices that come with risks and rewards. Heavy Rain is an emotional rollercoaster blended fittingly with love, addiction, suicide, life and death. Just a bit of warning, unless your “numb” this game will consume you as a player while at the same time test you as a human being.
Just how far will you go to save the one you love? Healing a man whose car flipped over. Applying pressure to a vital wound. Or pulling the trigger on a suspected criminal. Heavy Rain is a story that follows four unconnected people all with the same motive — they’re looking for a kidnapped child by the hands of the cunning Origami Killer, named after leaving folded paper shapes at the crime scenes. Ethan Mars; father of kidnapped son. Scott Shelby; private investigator hired by the victims families of the Origami Killer. Norman Jayden; FBI Agent sent to Philadelphia to solve the Origami killings. Madison Paige; a journalist covering the Origami story. Depending on the kind of person you are, you may find patience will assist or hinder your gameplay experience. Right when you think you know the correct choice, Heavy Rain throws a curve and makes you re-think that answer. Just choose what feels right to you to create the most realistic scenarios. Don’t always ask yourself “What is right?”
Quick and precise fingered. Heavy Rain is very heavy on one thing… not rain, but QTE’s. Quick Time Events are series of timed buttons pressed in a certain order or in Heavy Rain’s case, simultaneously. In one scene, you’re asked to walk through a maze of live Electrical wires weaving in between the sparks. Miss a button and you’ll be shocked. Mess up enough and — let me just say, you may not like what happens to your character. (relax, no spoilers here) To avoid finger cramping, drink plenty of water because some scenes will have you pressing up to six buttons at one time, seriously. Several times, I contemplated using my nose or tongue but decided I needed a better strategy at the task at hand. Plus, I wanted to avoid others catching me in this vulnerable position.
Suitably, a movie within a game. This is where Quantic Dream has stepped up their quality over other games in the industry. The cinematic, heart pounding, gritty camera scenes enhance the dark thriller experience. When I first popped in Heavy Rain, I tried playing with a blind eye to trailers and screenshots pre-release but I still knew the plot. The opening story had me paranoid so I made my character, Ethan Mars, consistently look over his shoulder making sure both sons, Jason and Shaun, were safe. Visually, Heavy Rain captivates with pleasing to the eye load scenes but that’s not all. The musical compositions peak at the right moments just like a horror flick. When you’re in a panic, expect the terrifying music to gradually get louder. So far, only Uncharted 2 compares to the graphics of Heavy Rain. But the attention to character detail goes to Heavy Rain. There’s only so much one can say about the movie-like qualities that make Heavy Rain as enjoyable to watch as it is to play. It’s kind of odd to be asked to “keep playing” because my, quote — unquote, “audience” would like to continue watching the the outcome of my story (movie).
Unique storyline comes at a price. I’ve mentioned you can play through four distinct characters but here’s the exciting part; there are eight different endings. The replay value alone is worth knowing that you may see a different ending the second time you play through. The gameplay also changes during the game. Forget to dodge a punch, and your character will sport a bloody lip. This might be a spoiler but here it goes. You may not survive with all four characters. Heck, all four characters may die and that’s your ending right there. But remember all your actions will come back to haunt you some way or another. That fight you ended up getting into to save Lauren in the sleazy motel.. yeah even that guy.
Not so cumbersome controls you’ll want to keep in your hands. As I mentioned in my Demo impressions, the controls for Heavy Rain can be a bit awkward but you’ll soon get used to them. To walk forward press R2. Some may ask why R3 and L3 were not slotted for the controls and that is a good question but with the camera angles changing at every corner you turn, holding down R2 and directing your move with L3 is easier. Remember kiddies, know your controls and do not put your controller down during “cutscenes”. Reason I used “cutscenes” in quotes because there are none. Yup, you read that right. The same action scenes you see Ethan Mars jumping from balcony to balcony are the gameplay scenes. Several times I was caught with the controller out of my hands and missed a QTE because of the transfer from action scene to gameplay scene. Think of Dragon’s Lair but with much better graphics.
PS3 Trophies keeps you guessing. Many reviewers have skipped on all the PS3 Trophies bring to Heavy Rain. For one, most the trophies are blacked out. That means you don’t exactly know how to attain them. This was a great move due to the fact that you will avoid spoilers and keep gamers guessing how to attain the next PS3 Trophy. Might be minor, but it’s an aspect I noticed right away and appreciate as well as respect the decision made.
Psychological Thriller Storyline
Precise QTEs enhance realistic gameplay
Motion Capture Scenes
Replay value due to unique decisions
Character Movement errors
Some Voice Acting
Final Thought: Heavy Rain is a breath of fresh air for games as we know them. A game with choices — our choices — customizes each players unique experience. I feel more games should play like Heavy Rain and other developers should embrace the creative ideas that Quantic Dream presents. While some scenes are a bit gratuitous, this game is rated “M” and should be played by adults. Heavy Rain should join the list of “must have” games on the PlayStation 3 and I only wish it wasn’t exclusive so gamers on the Xbox 360 can experience this outstanding achievement in gaming. No questions asked, Get This Game!