“When the parents came home from church, all their children were gone. They searched and called for them, they cried and begged, but it was to no avail. The children were never seen again.”
Heavy Rain is an interactive drama psychological thriller action-adventure video game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for the PlayStation 3 in February 2010.
The game is a film noir thriller, featuring four diverse protagonists involved with the mystery of the Origami Killer, a serial killer who uses extended periods of rainfall to drown his victims. The player interacts with the game by performing actions highlighted on screen related to motions on the controller, and in some cases, performing a series of quick time events during fast-paced action sequences.
Heavy Rain requires the player to move the character and have him or her interact with the objects or other non-player characters on the scene to progress the story. The game is divided into several scenes, each centering on one of four playable characters. The choices the player makes or the actions performed or not performed will affect later scenes in the game. For example, it is possible that a character dies or becomes detained, and will not be present in a later scene. The game doesn’t simply end because one of your characters has died and can continue to the end even if all four main characters are deceased or incapacitated in some way.
Within most scenes, the player can control the main character by moving them around the environment; they can also hold down a button to see what thoughts are going through the character’s mind, and trigger them to hear an internal monologue on that thought. When the player is near an object or another character they can interact with, they will be presented with a context sensitive icon that represents what control they need to do. Some scenes impose a timer on the player, requiring them to complete the necessary actions in time to avoid the death or incapacitation of that character. In other scenes, the player does not have full control of the character but must instead be prepared to respond to these icons in the manner of quick time events, such as during a hand-to-hand fight or while driving frantically on the wrong side of the road.
There are four main playable characters; Ethan Mars: A desperate father suffering from blackouts after failing to save his eldest son from a tragic death, now must put his own life on the line again to save his youngest son from the clutches of The Origami Killer, Scott Shelby: An ex-cop private investigator hired by the previous victims’ parents, with his tagalong partner Lauren Winter (the mother of one of the victims), Norman Jayden: An FBI investigator sent to assist the local PD in solving the Origami case, with his addiction to a drug that helps dull the effects of using his ARI, and Madison Paige: A lone journalist whose original goal of revitalizing her career is cut short when she develops feelings for her subject Ethan Mars.
The player controls one character at a time, generally playing different characters in each chapter of the game. The characters were voiced, motion captured, and modeled after several actors; the three males are modeled after their voice actors (Pascal Langdale, Sam Douglas and Leon Ockenden), while the female is modeled after a professional model (Judi Beecher is the voice and Jacqui Ainsley is the body). Some chapters in the game have the players play as multiple characters.
Heavy Rain is one hell of an atmospheric ride, with the added tension of having to really control dramatic moments with your movements and quick thinking. I’ve experienced motion control on PS3 once before with Beyond: Two Souls and although I mildly struggled with that it wasn’t nearly as stressful as this time around. My god, the stress I felt in having to get the motion and button pressing exactly right or a character could potentially die was immense. It’s pressure like that that added to the game and brought you in line with how the character was feeling. A moment that stands out to me that perfectly gets you into the characters shoes is at the very beginning when your eldest son Jason wanders off and you have to search through an extremely packed shopping centre for him; it truly made me feel freaked out and urgent to get to Jason quickly.
*Major spoilers beyond this point*
I thoroughly enjoyed Heavy Rain regardless of my difficulties with perfecting the quick time events and motion. My favourite character without a doubt is Scott Shelby, before I knew who he was I felt warm towards him and found him to be a relateable character with a sad past but he was clearly trying to redeem himself. He even cared for a baby! Oh, how wrong I was. The revelation of his real identity truly shocked me, I did notice his eye colour matched his mothers’ but when it was confirmed I was stunned. I had completely counted him out of my mental suspect list because who would investigate their own murders, for what possible motive? As I said, oh how wrong I was… As tragic as his past was, there’s no excuse for what he did and instead of hurting he could have turned his pain to helping those who had also been abused and let down by their parents.
My least favourite character was Madison Paige, my opinion is she really had no place in the story besides being Ethan’s prize at the end and her character was injected in to far too many sexual situations for it to be ignored. Why did she have sex with Ethan while his son was still out there neck deep in rain water?! And finding out that they didn’t use the voice actress for motion capture but instead a model just confirms to me why she was there. Yes, women characters are allowed to be sexy but when that’s their main reason for being in a game then that’s not okay. How could the creators of Jodie from BTS go in such a different direction with this character…
Overall: great visuals, enjoyable characters and an excellent, thrilling story with a cohesive twist ending.
Heavy Rain - Move Edition