Heavy Rain

Though it branches out from the ordinary game, Heavy Rain is a unique and remarkable experience.

By King, Posted 02 Mar 2010

It's just a movie. One big quick time event. There's no real gameplay here.

Right now, drop any assumptions you've previously made about Heavy Rain. If you go in open-minded, prepare yourself for one of the most unique gaming experiences of the last ten years. A few years back, we all saw the teaser trailer for Heavy Rain. It showed off some near photo-realistic graphics, but no one really had a clue about what exactly the game was supposed to be. Hype began to die down and many thought the game would never actually be released. But now in 2010 nearly four years have passed, and Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain is finally sitting on shelves across the globe.

If you still haven't been clued in on the essence of Heavy Rain, in a way it feels like an interactive movie in which you shape the story by the actions you choose. It's definitely not your typical game. Controls are made relatively simple. During the games quick time events, as an icon appears on screen, you press the corresponding button on the controller to make the character complete an action. These range from simply pressing a button, to rotating the analog stick a certain direction, to tilting the Sixaxis, to holding down a series of buttons all at the same time. Other sections of the game actually have you in full control of the character. Holding down R2 walks, while the left analog stick controls the direction of your movement. Having to hold R2 down becomes a bit of an annoyance, but thankfully it doesn't get in the way during any action sequences, and you'll learn to get used to it after an hour or so. You can also hold down L2 to hear your characters thoughts on previous events, which is helpful if you're ever unsure about what to do next.

Heavy Rain Review

You see the story from the perspective of four different characters, each with their own significantly differing personalities. One is Ethan Mars, a father of two children, and a recent victim of the mysterious “Origami Killer” . Another is Scott Shelby, ex-police officer who is dedicating his time to solve the mystery himself. Norman Jayden is an FBI agent, equipped with high tech ARI glasses (apparently technology becomes very advanced in the near future) which aid him in piecing together clues. Then there's Madison Paige, a journalist gathering the details of the crimes. Having four protagonists as opposed to one helps places an interesting spin on things since you're able to see events unfold from four different angles, and eavesdrop on the thoughts of many different characters.

In recent years, just about every game has attempted to incorporate the morality feature into their games some way or another, but I've yet to see a game use it to perfection like Heavy Rain has done. There's not simply the option of if you want to be good or evil, but instead every little action you choose can impact the outcome of the story. The game has over twenty different endings (although they all follow the same basic synopsis) along with hundreds of minor changes that can occur over the course of the game. It would be rare to find two people that had the exact same ride. What route you decide to take or what you choose to say could determine whether or not you live.

That's right, the main characters can die in Heavy Rain. There's no game over screen. If you screw up the story will continue, adapting to the new scenario. This makes the quick time events extremely intense, knowing that one wrong button could send your character six feet deep. Heavy Rain does a great job of developing an emotional connection between the gamer and the characters. Very few games are able to actually accomplish such a feat. I wish I could give a little more detail here, but part of what makes the game so special is seeing these moments for yourself, so I'd like to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. I'll paint you an abstract picture by simply saying this is one of the best stories told through a video game, ever.

A strong story is held up by some equally impressive presentation. Heavy Rain looks even more attractive than when it was originally shown off back in 2006. Character models are life-like, and there's certain shots that draw a fine line between polygons and actual flesh. It's not quite perfect though. Certain animations look awkward, some objects are noticeably less detailed than others, and a there's a few technical hiccups here and there. But all in all when the game is running smoothly it's one of the finest looking games of today, if not the most admirable of all console titles. Down to each individual drop of rain falling on the streets, Heavy Rain is pure eye-candy.

Heavy Rain Review

Voice acting is superb, and while it doesn't quite rival what you'd hear on the big screen, it's well above what is expected for a video game. Some people have commented on not all of the voice actors having American accents, but think about it, it's not a far stretch to think that one of the most diverse countries in the world has people with different accents is it? So it didn't ruin anything for me when I heard some British accents mixed in. The melancholy, yet engaging atmosphere is held up by a terrific soundtrack. Composed by Normand Corbeil, the slightly depressing sounds fit the mood perfectly for a memorable score.

Going into Heavy Rain, I initially thought I would be going through subpar gameplay but rewarded with a good storyline and great presentation. As I've already mentioned, the latter two statements held up to my expectations, but I was truly surprised by what Heavy Rain had to offer as an adventure game more than just an interactive drama. I found that not only the quick time events, but also just navigating through a conversation was fun, and a fresh take on the identical gameplay mechanics we see used in so many games. For those who didn't dream of becoming a detective, sometimes playing as the FBI agent searching around for clues and analyzing them can be a little tedious, but it thankfully is just a small portion of the game.

The biggest downfall for Heavy Rain is justifying the $60 price tag. The game is leaning on the short side at right around 8 hours, but as I think about it I don't know if I would have wanted it to be much longer. Quantic Dream nailed the pacing on the head. It never felt like the game was dragging on, but I'm not sure what could have been added to make things last longer without hampering the feel of the game. Surely you'll want to toy around with the game some more to test as many outcomes as you can. Luckily you even have the option to jump right into a specific chapter so you don't have to play through the whole game again to get to a certain spot. The impact won't be the same as it was when you made the decisions the first time around, but it will still be fun trying out different scenarios.

Heavy Rain Review

The bottom line is that there isn't a whole lot of gaming time to be had here compared to other games on the market. However, the age old argument of quality vs. quantity comes into play here, and that's what pushes me to say Heavy Rain deserves your purchase. I'll take 8 hours of a unique game with a satisfying story over 100 hours of a repetitive first-person shooter. Even after your second playthrough, third, fourth, or even fifth, it'll be worth it to keep Heavy Rain in your collection. A special game like this only comes around so often.

If you own a Playstation 3 by all means nothing should stop you from picking up a copy of Heavy Rain. Such an innovative experience that leans away from the linearity, and instead embraces a captivating tale unique to your actions, should not be missed. Who knows? Maybe this will be not just a game, but an inspiration for a whole new medium of entertainment. Even if you're not a gamer, do yourself a favor. Play Heavy Rain.

Logan Smithson, Noobfeed

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  • Excellent piece of writing Logan, keep up the good work. It appears I'm getting this game after all.

    Posted Mar 03, 2010

  • I loved the demo, I might pick this one up.

    Posted Mar 03, 2010

  • It sounds like a really fun game. One that maybe I end up renting. Just wondering though what would you give it if you were scoring out of 10?

    Posted Mar 04, 2010

  • @shaokid : I'd give it a 9.4. A very high score for a revolutionary experience, but the simple lack of bang for buck keeps it from being up there even higher with some of the elite games.

    Posted Mar 04, 2010

  • damn it i dont have ps3. the way you described seems like this game is just like Mass Effect II with elements from Indigo Prophecy. It is great to see how developers are effectively creating a game which gives a near movie like experience and also the players actions can also change the story. i love good story based games. as you already said, you can have multiple playthrough. now it will definitely bring gamers attention especially the fans from indigo prophecy, has only one straight playthrough!

    Posted Mar 04, 2010

  • @Koshai : From what I hear, it is very similar to Indigo Prophecy, but I never played that game. I also heard it was a very weird game though, and not like Heavy Rain's realistic portrayal. Regardless, if you did like Indigo Prophecy, or at least some of its ideas, you're bound to enjoy Heavy Rain.

    Posted Mar 05, 2010

  • Very good review. It really tempts to go grab this game and play it to my bro's PS3 console.

    Posted Mar 05, 2010

  • So you say a lot of people not even into gaming will like Heavy Rain? I was thinking maybe my girlfriend would be interested in this one with me. 

    Posted Mar 06, 2010

  • Yes, even non-gamers will probably enjoy Heavy Rain. My sister even liked Heavy Rain, and her gaming times consists of pretty much only music games, sports games, and The Sims.

    Posted Mar 07, 2010

  • @King : Probably one of the best reviews I've read here so far. You have amazing skills to describe a game. As for the game, I'll wait for any opportunity I get to play it.

    Posted Mar 14, 2010

  • A truly fantastic game and totally deserving of such a high score.

    Posted Aug 20, 2010


General Information

Heavy Rain


Platform(s): PS3
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer(s): Quantic Dream
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Interactive Drama
Release Date: 2010-02-18

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