PS3 Review – Heavy Rain Chronicles: The Taxidermist

After year’s of waiting Heavy Rain finally hit the PlayStation 3 last month. Since then, gamers have been meticulously trying to achieve all of the game’s rumored 20 plus endings. To satisfy the gamers eager for DLC, Quantic Dream announced a series of downloadable episodes dubbed, “The Heavy Rain Chronicles”. Episode 1: The Taxidermist, was offered as a pre-order incentive to anyone who pre-ordered the game here in the US, along with those willing to spend the extra money for the European Special Edition. Heavy Rain received rave reviews, but does The Taxidermist live up to the high bar the original game set?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes and no. The Taxidermist takes place a little before the events of the original game, placing you in the boots of the lovely Madison Paige. She is investigating the Origami Killer, and a recent lead indicates the killer could be a retired taxidermist. Your investigation will eventually lead you inside the house, and that is when all things go awry. Suddenly, as the original game does so wonderfully, you are given a set of choices that will significantly alter the ending and the playing experience. However, the choices aren’t as wide-ranging as in the original game, and don’t feel as though they carry the same weight.

A common complaint about Heavy Rain was the rigidness of the characters’ motions. However, maneuvering wasn’t too much of a chore. For some reason, in The Taxidermist, the characters seem to be walking with concrete bricks on their feet. Walking around is indeed, a chore. Turning or trying to direct your character within the confines of a small house is a battle. If you overshoot an object or doorway, Madison will continue to walk for another second, take another second to turn around, and finally she will proceed to walk to where you want her to go. This, unfortunately, really detracts from the overall experience.

For anyone that played the Heavy Rain demo before the release, this downloadable episode is actually shorter than that. Yup, that’s right. Even taking a slow, methodical, investigative approach to the episode still yields a remarkably short pameplay experience. It’s a shame, because the initial premise of The Taxidermist seems interesting, and grabbed my attention. However, midway through, everything became quite predictable–something I wasn’t used to after playing the original game.

Being so short, there aren’t many characters, but the few characters there are lack any sense of emotion. I expected to hear fear and curiosity in characters’ voices, but instead, the voices are mostly monotone. It’s hard to be engulfed in an experience such as Heavy Rain when the characters’ voices aren’t filled with emotion.

Rather than a true piece of DLC, The Taxidermist feels more like a deleted scene from the game–something that the developers began to work on, but, for some reason or another, never quite finished. Although it does have the same core mechanics and gameplay that gamers loved in the original, it’s the length, voiceovers, and movement that really detract from the overall gaming experience. Even though there are a few different endings, there isn’t any incentive to play through them. After playing through the initial playthrough, most of the endings will seem quite predictable. Mysteriously, Quantic Dream opted to not include any trophies. Hopefully Quantic Dream will ensure the next installment is better thought-out and and detailed. Until then, I’ll still be trying to see all the endings which Heavy Rain offers.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Can be finished in 10-15 minutes

Voice acting is sub-par

Just enough to satisfy Heavy Rain fans

6 out of 10