Review: Heavy Rain

Without a doubt, the most important game this year…

Sure, that may seem like a bold statement considering we’re only 2 month into the new year, but Quantic Dream’s interactive drama goes where few games dare to go. Heavy Rain is a game built off of characters & decisions, tied together by a well crafted noir thriller story like none seen before in a game. You’re put into the shoes of four characters with the ability to make regular day ordinary decisions, and decisions that could lead to your demise. Much like QD’s last game this all takes place in a cold, dark, dreary world: with Indigo Prophecy it was snow that built this atmosphere, but here it’s constantly raining, but the rain is used for more than just atmosphere, it’s a plot device, a natural clock and your time is quickly running out. Now where QD’s last effort went wrong Heavy Rain manages to get it right by telling a compelling story, giving you characters you can care about, some rewarding controls and stunning visuals.

The story of Heavy Rain unfolds through the eyes of four loosely connected, archetypical characters: Ethan Mars (the depressed, despondent single father), Scott Shelby (the aging, overweight, alcoholic private eye), Madison Paige (the feisty journalist looking for her breakthrough story while dealing with insomnia) and Norman Jayden (the young FBI profiler, who’s not exactly welcome in the local precinct and is battling an addiction to triptocaine). They’re all after the same thing and that’s to find the Origami Killer before he strikes again. When making choices I didn’t really base my decisions off what I though my character would do, I went off what I felt was right. The game taps into your core morality and gets you to act on your instincts which is something that few games have ever done for me.

Heavy Rain is beautifully paced; the action starts off slow allowing you to get accustomed to the controls then it continually ramps up, perfectly balancing the action with the mundane. The contextual QTE’s are great and feel rewarding, you mimic the characters actions through the controller and it’s a concept that in the end works really well. You’ll encounter situations where you need to hold down multiple buttons at a time and if you slip up it could be the end of you. Now with that being said controls can be quite tedious at times, especially in tight spaces and when there’s a singular fixed camera.

While Heavy Rain is a beautiful game with highly detailed environments and characters it does suffer from technical issues. In my play through the game froze on me once and there were a few audio glitches; there’s also a bit of screen tearing, but none of these issues detract from the overall experience.  What can detract from the experience is the voice acting, while overall it’s solid, at some points it feels very stilted and just off, there’s always this European feeling to the characters. This also ties into the dialogue which at times sounds unnatural and very rigid.

Overall Heavy Rain is something that needs be played by everyone, not because it’s different, but because it’s a damn good game. It has a gripping and realistic story to tell with characters that you become attached to, that’s something few games these days offer. And while it has it’s flaws they never become a serious issue, everything feels so tightly knit on the story side of things that you come to forget them.
Rating: 2 Thumbs Up

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