I am not a fan of hype. Any time I hear too much on a title I start to dislike the game on principle alone, so Heavy Rain was big on my skeptical radar. I had been hearing all sorts of things about the PS3 exclusive regarding the detail of graphics and the amount of engrossing story, but all this did was make me hope the game would be terrible. Finally, Heavy Rain is out, so are my instincts correct? Is Heavy Rain a flop? Absolutely not.
Original Concept; Tough Sell
Heavy Rain is very much unlike any game you’ve played before unless you’ve played Indigo Prophecy. The style of game is something I can’t quite pin down as everything is based off Quicktime Events and dialogue trees. The plot revolves around the murders of the Origami Killer, a serial killer known for his trademark origami mementos left on the victims. You’ll play through the story as four different characters all related to the murders in some way, such as the dull FBI agent, the father whose son has gone missing, the mother who’s already lost her child, and the really developed detective character that I’d prefer was the only character I needed to control.
Where Heavy Rain sets itself apart from other games is the structure of the game itself. There are no Game Over screens or checkpoints to get to. You’ll go through the story doing the best you can to make the right decisions and what have you with each action you do having consequences at some point. If your character takes a particularly bad beating early on, they will look pretty damaged for the rest of the story. It’s even possible to have a character die. The game won’t end, but it could result in you not seeing the end if that particular character is crucial for resolution to the game’s plot.
I do like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” framework in Heavy Rain. The whole game takes maybe under 10 hours to complete once through, but you could play it again and see a completely different result, assuming you’ve changed your decisions slightly. For example, the game’s demo has a scene where the detective is pressing an individual for information about the Origami Killer. You are given the option to be nice and not really force a response, or you can push for the character’s story. It is quite possible to learn something new in each playthrough.
However, the controls frustrate me to no end. This is a game only since it uses a controller. You are constantly asked to perform some random button press that represents an action in the game. Some of these make sense, like a flick of the control stick to the left to dodge a punch, but then there are times that you have to flick the stick to reach in your pocket. I don’t care about that amount of detail in my motions. Every minute action is required. Even walking, a task that should be a simple as “push stick forward,” is complicated by the need to hold down a shoulder button and then steer your character. Heavy Rain is a game I much prefer to watch rather than play.
Should you purchase Heavy Rain? It depends. If you would like to replay the story over and over, then yes, certainly buy the game. For most of us, a rental weekend will suffice.