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Heavy Rain Review

Heavy Rain is an experience.  That’s perhaps the best way to sum it up.  While it’s not what you may normally consider a game by definition, it really manages to utilize the genre in a whole different way.  The game’s mission is to tell a story about a serial killer on the loose and the effect he has on four individuals.  The game shines in this respect and every character feels pretty fleshed mostly.  The only character that seems a bit weak in development is FBI Investigator Jayden.  More on that in a moment.  What makes Heavy Rain so unique is that the whole focus is on the story over the gameplay.  The only interactions are hunts for objects and some quicktime events.  It calls to mind elements of classic point and click adventure games like Maniac Mansion combined with Quicktime Cinematics as in Shenmue.

The plot of Heavy Rain focuses on Ethan, a father whose son has been kidnapped by the Origami Killer.  This serial killer has been kidnapping young boys, drowning them in rain water, and leaving an orchid and origami figure on the bodies.  Other characters include Scott, a private detective who is on the trail of the Origami Killer, Jayden, an FBI investigator attempting to profile and catch the Origami Killer, and Madison, a journalist who quickly gets caught up in the surrounding events.  Of all the characters in the story, I feel Ethan is the most powerful.  You can really feel the emotion and sorrow that drives his character.  His love for his son can’t be denied and it’s difficult sometimes to see the lengths that he will go through to save his son.  Scott is the second most powerful character in regards to overall depth.  He’s calm and charismatic and you just enjoy playing as him at every point.  Madison doesn’t really become too involved until almost halfway through the game, but she still manages to steal the spotlight a few times.  She meets Ethan and seems to want to help him with whatever he’s going through as a type of good Samaritan.  Jayden is really just the weakest of the characters and I often found it difficult to care about him.  The only interesting draw to him is his chronic addiction that you must help him either overcome or submit too.  Late in the game Jayden’s struggle really takes center stage, but by then it’s too late to really take much interest.

Perhaps the greatest element of the game is the decisions that come into play through the story.  Every little choice or act you do will have ramifications be they small or large enough to change the outcome of the game.  There are a number of times where you will find the lives of characters at your fingertips and it’s up to you if they live or die.  In particular I just want to say that there was one moment when playing as Ethan where a choice arose in which I had to pause the game and stop for a moment.  It was that tough of a decision that I simply couldn’t choose without giving it deep thought.  The game really draws you in and makes you feel for each character on screen even more so than if it were just a movie.  This aspect of control is what makes storytelling through video games so compelling over other mediums where you just watch or read a scenario play out.

This is a game that should be played by everyone just so they can see how good storytelling can work through this medium.  It’s not a particularly long game, but it does have a lot of re-playability in the regards that each decision changes a lot of how the game plays out.

  1. March 7, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I was thinking someone should make a Heavy Rain Youtube point and click adventure game it would take some time but that would be kind of awesome. Sure you won’t get some of the interactivity but if you have most of the major points added in that would be awesome.

  2. March 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    They did <.<

  3. Dobby
    March 10, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Heavy Rain is stressful! I’ll only play it when you’re at home!

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