I review Heavy Rain, or as I like to call it "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Quick-Time Events"The adventuregame genre is hard to label. The most commoninterpretations of the genre are the old PC adventures games such as MonkeyIsland. My personal adventure game experience comes from PS1/N64platformer games. However, it seems that the genre has tapered off in the pastfew years, replaced by first and third person shooters. Quantic Dream’s newgame Heavy Rain breathes new life into the adventure genre, and blurs the linebetween video games and movies.
HeavyRain follows 4 characters and their attempts to find the Origami Killer:aserial killer who drowns young boys and leaves origami figures on theircorpses. The game's action focuses on the drama, and howyour choices affect people within the game. For example, in thebeginning of the game you are given the choice to make your son do hishomework, or let him watch TV. If you force him to do his homework, he maybecome sullen and angry. If you let him ignore it, when you ask him aboutschool he will say his teacher yelled at him for not doing his work. Almost every choice has an effect, even if the choice isinsubstantial. You are given the freedom of how youachieve/get to your goal in every chapter. Do you sneak out the backyardto avoid paparazzi in front of your house, or go out the front door andconfront them? Do you clean your fingerprints off ofeverything at the scene of a murder you have recently witnessed, or do you boltquickly and risk being brought in for questioning later? These are the kinds of questions the game will throw at you allthe time. The game records every big choice you make, and has multipleendings based on them. By letting theplayer directly influence the story, the game really creates a connectionbetween the game and the gamer. It makes you think before you do anything. Theactual gameplay of Heavy Rain is an interesting experiment. All of the game’sactions, except for walking, are imputed with quick time events (QTE’s).You’veprobably seen this kind of input in action games, like God of War. In HeavyRain, the quick time events are generally out of the way of the action, closeto the limb or object being manipulated and many of the mundane ones likeopening doors are done with the right analog stick. When a character gets intocombat, the face buttons are added with different kinds of inputs (mashing,simply pressing the button, etc.) Occasionally, the game will ask you toholddown several buttons one after the other. It almost turns the game into Twisterfor your fingers. I came into the game expecting to be bored by this controlmethod. After all, why would I want to give up control of my character tochance? However, it really adds a layer of intensity to the game, since you aregiven just as much time as the character to make a decision. If you missan input,the game keeps moving, even if that means that your character dies. It’slikeplaying an interactive movie. The game also features the best use of sixaxiscontrols I’ve seen in a PS3 game. I also found thiscontrol scheme brought a sense of realism to the game. It would be hardto imagine ordinary people just being able to fight on the level of a martialarts master. The lack of a heads-up display also enhances the movie-stylepresentation. More fun than it looks like
HeavyRain desperately wants to be a movie. From the haunting score to the waythecamera moves during the action, the game wants to be seen as a mature piece ofart that can stand with the best pieces of cinema. However, the game’s story simplydosn’t support the vision that the developers are going for. The game isengrossing throughout the first half, but the storybegins to show flaws when it should be building towards the climax. Thegame throws many red herrings as to who the Origami Killer is, but many of themdon’t matter in the long run or just don’t simply make sense. The true identityof the Origami Killer is revealed in a very M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist thatdoesn’t hold up once you start thinking about it. It onlyworks as shock value, as though the developers were trying to prove their storywas deeply layered. There are also severalinconsistencies late in the game where a character knows information anothercharacter also knows, yet the two have never interacted together. If thedevelopers had focuses a little more on the script, theywould have had a more cohesive narrative so gamers don't have to ignore logicto make it enjoyable. Thevoice acting does not help the weak story. This is a game made by Europeans andvoiced by Europeans. This causes a small problem as the game is supposedto beset in America. Some characters sound perfectly okay, while others (especiallychildren) just sound odd, like there was no accent training before they steppedinto the studio. The European/American divide is also apparent in the design ofthe environments. It seems like the developers were trying too hard to appealworldwide audience. I believe where the game takes placesand what the characters sound shouldn't matter if the game is good. Expect to get a little stressed playing
I'm sure by now you think I hated thisgame and to stay as far away from it as possible, but most of my comments arenitpicky.QuanticDream’s creation is one of the most original, engaging, and fun games I’veplayed in a long time. Their idea of doing somethingdifferent with a video game is commendable. This is a game that everyoneshould at least play, and is open to a lot of different interpretations.However, the story and a few presentation points can't keep upwith the ambition of the game. Overall, I give Heavy Rain a B+. Special Thanks to Keb for editing help!
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