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Review - Heavy Rain (PS3)

Started by Nightcrawler, June 22, 2015, 07:13:32 PM

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Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain was an interesting game. It was billed as an 'Interactive Drama'. That terms sometimes means watching a movie with little gameplay. That turns some people off right away. However, I love to play games with deep stories so I would certainly give it a chance. This murder mystery thriller seemed like it would be right up my ally, and it was! This style of game reminds me of the early CD-ROM PC 'interactive drama' type games consisting almost entirely of FMV (full motion-video). Many of them were sub-par back in the day due to limited choices, clunky interactions, and few real outcomes. I think that was a product of the times, and the execution faltered due to technology. The actual idea for those types of games was a good one. I think Heavy Rain exemplifies what those early game creators hoped their interactive drama games might have been. Heavy Rain represent the culmination of what an interactive drama should be to me.

Heavy Rain plays like a movie, but there's lots of interaction, many choices, and many outcomes. You never 'die' in the game in the traditional start over video game way. Instead, the character just actually dies or fails, and the story continues on noting the failure or absence of that player. Different scenarios with remaining characters are used to continue the branching story. In this way, you are never replaying any portions of the game in a single play through. This is an interesting concept. I liked it for the most part, but occasionally I did want to retry something I failed, and was a bit upset I couldn't (much like real life!).


The story involves the mystery of the Oragami Killer. There are 4 playable characters, and you will play all of them. There is a man named Ethen who has recently lost a child in an accident after having lost sight of him in a mall. He struggles with guilt, and he is on the verge of losing his second son, which really throws him over the edge. You also have an FBI agent Jayden, whom struggles with a drug addiction and police corruption. There's also Scott, a private investigator hired by one of the victim's family of the Oragami Killer. Lastly, we have Madison whom is a reporter interested in the case and her own back story. The characters all have separate stories, links to one another, and converge together towards the end. It's a well done tale with some good twists.


The graphics were good and realistic enough to capture the movie type presentation. The graphics engine is how I found out about the game actually. The engine was used for the PS3 tech demo 'Kara', which I found very interesting (check it out on Youtube if you never heard of it.). I wanted to see more of it, and found the engine was designed and used for Heavy Rain.


The voice acting was great here and brought the characters to life. Any graphical shortcomings were made up for by the realism of the characters via their voice overs. I think all of the main characters were well done, with the voice for Scott being the standout. The background music was what you'd hear in your typical thriller movie. It was done well and conveyed the emotional tone of each scene. No complaints.


The gameplay generally involves interacting with your environment. That includes objects, directing conversations with people, and some small puzzle solving. One interesting element is when playing as FBI agent Jayden. He has these futuristic glasses that allow me to see augmented reality. You use these glasses to search for clues at crime scenes, and go through already found evidence. It added a nice little extra layer of gameplay that I found found enjoyable. I could see an entire game designed around crime investigation like that if it were fleshed out more.

The thing to note here is the game keeps progressing. Things are time sensitive and there are consequences to many actions, as in real life. You can miss an event, fail at a task, or even die, and the game and story will progress accordingly. I've seen the making of video and the creators call it a 'rubber band' story. In this way, they can still tell a deep narrative, while allowing the story to push out of bounds in different directions. There is a strict beginning and a general end, but everything in between can branch out in many ways. I say there is a general end because the game ends in the same location and the endings are somewhat similar, but the actual details can vary substantially depending on what characters are still alive and what some of your choices and failures were along the way.


I think Quantic Dreams did a fantastic job with balancing a strong narrative while allowing enough flexibility, branches, and outcomes to replay the game. That's quite an achievement with an interactive drama type of a game! It has a great story, a great voice acting cast, and I think it's definitely worth playing at least one time through! - The central hub of the ROM hacking community.


Thanks for the writeup heavy rain was on my to play list since it came out but I never got around to it.