Impressions: Heavy Rain

heavy-rain-1Heavy Rain is one hell of a ride.

I couldn’t think of a better way to start, because Heavy Rain is somewhat… unique. That being the case, it’s hard to discuss it and/or critique it through traditional methods. As you all know, there is very little actual “gameplay” in Heavy Rain. It’s one big interactive movie that you control through contextual button-presses and quick time-ish events.
That may sound utterly unappealing, but Heavy Rain is never dull -  it just requires a more open-minded player who is ready to experience a deep and involving storyline. Those who seek ball-to-the-walls action need not apply.

So, what is it that makes Heavy Rain so much fun to play? The storyline and the characters, and the way that you, as a player, affect how things unfold. Heavy Rain is a first-rate thriller that mixes gritty detective drama with more personal, human themes that run deep. Four separate story threads are woven together seamlessly to create a cinematic and emotional adventure that you won’t be able to tear yourself away from.

Caution – minor spoilers may follow. (And I promise they are indeed minor.)

This guy's life sucks.

This guy's life sucks.

Heavy Rain opens very slowly, introducing you to the character Ethan Mars and his family. You literally spend the first two hours or so performing mostly mundane tasks, such as setting dinner tables, helping your son with homework, and reheating pizza in the microwave. As dull as this sounds, you’ll soon realize how important this leisurely introduction is to connecting us with Ethan Mars and his trials throughout the course of the game. And this is true for all similarly “normal” or slow portions of the game – it’s all for the sake of developing a strong cast of characters, and Heavy Rain succeeds brilliantly in this regard.

But you certainly don’t spend all of your time in Heavy Rain nuking leftovers. There are more intense scenarios to be experienced. For example, there are fight scenes which can end in a variety of different ways, depending on your performance. There are detective sequence that see you piecing together clues left behind by the enigmatic Origami Killer. There are sequences that will make you perform decidedly painful or disturbing tasks – such as crawling through a maze laced with broken glass.

Hers does too.

Hers does too.

And yes, a lot of these scenarios are laced together through quick-time events. However, these are far, far more forgivable than they are in, say, God of War. (See Ethos’ Sunday Soapbox below). For one, most actions in the game aren’t done through “quick-time.” Slower, more deliberate actions require more deliberate contextual actions, simply requiring you to hold down certain buttons or clicking the control stick in the right direction. So, to call Heavy Rain “QTE, The Game” isn’t an accurate statement any way you slice it. The actual quicktime events feel appropriately integrated and fun, instead of random and out-of-place. Also, when you miss a cue in one of Heavy Rain’s QTEs, you aren’t presented with a messy death animation and a loading screen. Instead, the events play out differently depending on how well you follow the button prompts. Heavy Rain’s control scheme succeeds brilliantly in making you, the player, feel immersed in the role of each character. Certain sequences will, for lack of a better term, make you feel their pain. Literally.

Heavy Rain is not a game to be missed, so long as you’re the type who can enjoy a slightly higher-concept, story-driven adventure. I’ll be completing the game and reviewing it with my full thoughts soon.

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3 Responses to “Impressions: Heavy Rain”

  1. Riddles says:

    TAKE THAT ANDOGO

  2. SiliconNooB says:

    Now your just baiting Andogo to write the longest and most winding comment this site has ever seen …

    -QTEs are actually fun in Heavy Rain. I’m not a fan of R2 walking though, I often find it difficult to get where I want to go …

  3. Andogo says:

    I pressed L2 while holding R1, you missed.

    Also, since you’re actually reviewing it, try changing difficulty settings. A scene that works well for this is Jayden Blues. And you can also try out the different ways Hassan’s Shop can end.

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