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Heavy Rain Review

Genres: Adventure
Year of Release: 2010
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony
Review Date: 4-3-2010
Review Platform: PS3
Review Region: AU Available In Australia
Est Playtime: 8+ hrs
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

The Origami Killer is a serial killer who targets boys, leaving his victims with an orchid on their chest and an origami figure in their hand. Four individuals will unravel the identity of this killer as the hours tick off the life of his latest victim. A stricken father, a journalist, an FBI agent and a Private Investigator. You truly control their fates in this unfolding drama.

heavy_rain020Heavy Rain represents an old promised fulfilled. Years ago Full Motion Video games promised a Ďthrilling interactive experienceí in the form of a movie. They didnít deliver because the gameplay was terrible to non existent and the acting and story were equally as bad. Leap forward to 2010 and Heavy Rain does everything those games couldnít and didnít.

heavy_rain019Essentially Heavy Rain is an adventure game fueled by Quick Time Events. You wander around a scene being directed to interact with the environment and with other characters. Sometimes you need to find clues on the Origami killer, other times youíre talking down an armed robber. The available dialogue options float around the characters head during those times and they have to be chosen quickly or the game selects one for you. Itís a minor fault but theyíre hard to see when sitting on a couch, and all the game prompts could have been bigger.

heavy_rain022Beyond these standard adventure game elements are the thrilling action scenes. This is where the game really shines because the QTEs build on top of each other, in a branching fashion, altering the flow of the scene. And usually no single missed button press results in failure or death. One action scene had me hurtling down the freeway in the wrong direction, desperately swerving between cars and trucks. The game creates incredibly intense movements because youíre in control of scenes like that, along with the story/context.

heavy_rain023Heavy Rain is a mature game with a mature storyline that pulls you in. A rare beast. Its primary storyline is a father trying to rescue his son and being forced to do terrible things along the way. While the other characters are on the trail of the Origami killer. The characters can die, but the game doesnít tell you this, itís obvious from the situations youíre in. This is another reason why the game feels so intense. Thereís also player directed nudity and a sex scene where you control the foreplay. So often these things are gratuitous, they have no real reason to be there, but here itís different. Theyíre presented seriously as part of the gameís storyline. However itís not perfect, the twist ending didnít wash with me, and there are a number of red hearings. The latterís almost inevitable with multiple stories intertwined.

heavy_rain015Aside from the select and start buttons every function of the PS3 controller is used. Even the much maligned motion function Ė sometimes youíll need to move the controller down or to the side to perform actions. Other times youíll need to hold multiple buttons down, so many in fact that on occasion I felt like I was playing twister. The movement controls are very sluggish and imprecise when trying to turn. I had a great deal of trouble tying to navigate through a series of tunnels during one chapter because of them. The gameís camera is also fixed at two alternate angels, which makes the sections where you have to search the environment more difficult than they should be.

heavy_rain004The models act superbly and look almost universally exceptional. Other people have mentioned an Uncanny Valley effect but I didnít have that reaction. The environments have small details that help create the atmosphere of a movie. Such as people walking by outside the window, huddled together as they go through the rain. The music does much the same with a really dramatic, impactful score. It wouldnít be out of place on a noir/gritty detective movie.

Heavy Rain combines story telling and interactivity in a way that few games ever have. It pulls you into the experience through a stream of evolving Quick Time Events that control the flow of action. Itís also one of the few truly mature games, in the sense that it deals with serious themes and doesnít just have gratuitous violence/nudity. These aspect come together to produce one of the most intense gaming experiences Iíve ever had.