We’ve spent four days in the pouring rain with Quantic Dream’s ambitious thriller noir, Heavy Rain, and are ready to pour our thoughts into a review, so you can properly forecast if the game is worth your purchase.
Heavy Rain, despite its dreary title, starts off on a bright and sunny day. You’ll take control of Ethan Mars, a successful architect who has it all; the gorgeous modern home, loving wife and two energetic boys. It’s a happy occasion, it’s Ethan’s son Jason’s birthday. You’ll go about your day just as anyone would, you’ll take a shower, shave, get dressed, do some work, carry in groceries, set the table, and play with your sons. All of this serves as an introduction to the game’s unique context-sensitive controls. Although the prologue seems like a mere tutorial, its real purpose is to get you to know and identify with Ethan Mars, the everyman.
Tragedy soon shatters this vision of a perfect life. At that time is when you realize Heavy Rain isn’t your average video game. What ensues is a deeply emotional, highly-cinematic experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire 8 or so hours the game lasts.
You’ll play the role of 4 different characters, all on the hunt to find the Origami Killer, the maniacal serial killer the game is based upon. Good-hearted, triptocane addicted, FBI Profiler, Norman Jayden, the persuasive private detective Scott Shelby, and the alluring photo-journalist Madison Paige, who finds Ethan Mars at a hotel, distraught and tattered.
The game takes place in real time and alternates between characters to flesh out the story from each different aspect. The main story begins with Mars, who’s life has been destroyed by a grievous event that occurs at the end of the prologue. The once happy Mars, has lost his home, his wife and one of his sons. Clinging on to sanity, Mars keeps himself together for the sake of his son Shaun. However blackouts plague the mind of the young father. After one of these blackouts, Mars returns to consciousness only to find that his son is missing, appearing to be the latest victim of the Origami Killer.
The rest of the game as Mars is dedicated to answering the question, “How far would you go to save the one you love?”. The question alone is thought provoking. Ask yourself, how far would you go? You’ll get chills when you see exactly how far Ethan Mars will go to save his son.
This a prime example of how writer and director David Cage uses situations in the game to get you to think. The game challenges you to make quick, critical decisions based on desperation, survival and morality. The game focuses heavily on decisions and consequences, again challenging your mind more than your button pressing skills.
During particularly intense scenes, the on-screen button prompts will shake and spin, making it more difficult to make a clear choice.Panic is felt throughout every decision you’ll make, especially knowing that unique to Heavy Rain, if your character dies, your character is gone for the remainder of the game. Due to this, an added level of realism and fear is present throughout the game.
Emotions and different psychological states play a major role in the game, not just with you the player, but with each character as well. The game showcases various conditions of the mind: schizophrenia, addiction, dementia, insomnia. Each character carries so much emotional baggage, that at one point or another you’ll suspect each and every one of them to be the Origami Killer.
The story itself is gripping. So much so that you will want to set aside an entire night to play it through until the very end; you wont want to put this game down. It will have you wondering what could possibly coming next. You’ll constantly second guess yourself about who the killer is, although if you pay close attention early on, you can figure it out before it’s revealed. Throughout the game you’ll pick up clues, interrogate suspects, even question parents of victims in the search for the Origami Killer.
You’ll find yourself in some seriously shady places, all with the ominous heavy rain pouring beating down upon you. The rain takes an even bigger role than just being part of the backdrop, even going as far as to be used as the murder weapon of choice for the killer. The rain also serves as a constant reminder of the inauspicious situation Ethan Mars is having to endure through.