PS3 Review – Heavy Rain

The pacing of the game is just right, you’ll have just enough time to settle down with some dialogue in between the 5 nail-biting trials the Origami Killer has set before Ethan Mars. One such trial the killer will send you on, is a death-ride, speeding the wrong way down a busy highway, swaying and swerving to avoid oncoming vehicles, putting your life on the line to save the life of your son. As Mars completes each task, he’ll receive clues to where his son is being held. He’ll have to get there fast if he wants to save him, as all previous victims of the killer have died when the rain fall reaches 6 inches, something that is projected to happen in just four days. If Mars cannot make it in time, his son will fall victim to the killer, who will take his life and leave his calling; an orchid laid across the chest of the victim and an origami figure placed in the victim’s hand.

Once you’ve discovered who the killer is and have met your fate, you’ll be anxious to jump right back in for another playthrough, mainly because you will want to explore different choices and thus, different consequences. Each and every scene can be played a number of ways. One scene in particular put Scott Shelby in a convenience store with the goal of disarming a would-be robber. It’s your choice if you want to try your hand at settling the robber’s nerves and talking him out of it, or maybe you don’t feel like confrontation and would rather sneak behind him with a quick strike from a glass bottle to the back of his head, abruptly ending the standoff. Even more dramatic, the game features multiple endings, each offering a completely different look into the future of the lives affected by the killer.

Confront the robber, or sneak up behind him? The choice is yours.

You’ll perform each and every action within the game with context-sensitive controls. Each type of button combination or movement represents real life actions. For example, one scene has you playing the piano so you’ll be firing off quick taps of the face buttons. On the flip side, would be tending to Ethan’s wounds, you’ll have to slowly and smoothly move the analog stick in the direction prompted to avoid causing him any unnecessary pain or discomfort. Most of the actions are a simple, single movement letting you perform everyday tasks like going to the bathroom or turning on a light. However more intense situations, like a heated fist-fight, call for much faster and more precisely timed button tapping. Each action fits the scenes or situation perfectly.

Heavy Rain features the very best graphics seen to date on a console. During loading, you’ll be greeted to an up-close head shot of whatever character you’ll be playing as next, a nice visual touch. Facial animations are eerily realistic, sly smirk or a grimace of pain give you a look into the what the character is feeling. Eyes are particularly life-like. Each and every scene is filled with details, much of it interactive. The subtle details of each scene make every chapter believable. You’ll know your character is hurting by the deep, rattling breaths he’s taking. You’ll know by the look on his face. The team at Quantic Dream took attention to detail very seriously. Dark, orchestral scores make up the majority of the soundtrack and meshes well with the suspense of the game.

Are these the eyes of a cold-blooded killer?

The life-like graphics, the forsaken backdrop, the dark music, the mature themes, all set amidst the pouring rain, come together to bring you something that is so much more than just a game. At times you’ll be so engrossed in the story and the characters that you’ll completely forget you are playing a game. Heavy Rain, after all, is dubbed an interactive drama by the game’s writer and director, David Cage, who has elevated video games as an art form to a whole new level. The finishing touch of revealing camera angles, are straight out of a blockbuster Hollywood feature film and make the experience feel that much more real. The characters themselves are believable and as unbelievable as the situations are, you can’t help but wonder “how far you would go to save the one you love”.

As a father I was deeply compelled to identify with Ethan Mars and his quest to save his son. As someone with over 2 decades of gaming under my belt, I am proud to see video games become a higher form of entertainment. Heavy Rain is truly a work of art that demands to be appreciated. Unfortunately like most art, you have to “get it” to really appreciate it. That being said, the game is not for everybody, and there will be plenty of people that just don’t “get it”. But, if you go into Heavy Rain with an open mind and the understanding that this isn’t your average video game, you will reap the reward of playing one of the most memorable video games of this console generation.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Unique control scheme.

Deeply emotional and psychological thriller.

Many different choices, which all have unique consequences.

9 out of 10