Game Review: Heavy Rain
Developed by Quantic Dream
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 3
Released in 2010
Genre: Interactive action-adventure drama
Source: Bought at Top CD
Your every move can make a difference. The Origami Killer has left a city in panic. Someone needs to take control. Play all four lead roles in this gripping psychological thriller, where your decisions have dramatic consequences and every action can affect how the plot unfolds.
So why am I reviewing a game? Well because it’s fun and there is a murder-mystery to be solved. In Heavy Rain you play as four different characters all somehow involved in the search for the Origami Killer, aptly named as an origami figurine is found at each crime scene.
The main protagonist of the game is Ethan Hawke, an architect and dedicated father of two boys. As the protagonist his mood is connected to the game visuals which changes during the course of the game. At the start of the game, where everything in his life is perfect the visuals are clean, clear and crisp. However, this quickly changes to a dark noir feel with lots of rain as Ethan becomes more depressed and distant.
Norman Jayden is a FBI profiler sent to support the local police department in their efforts to catch the Origami Killer. What is unknown to the local law enforcement is that this agent has a drug problem of his own. He is not only struggling with an addiction to triptocaine, but also suffering from side effects caused by the extensive use of his cool tech – experimental augmented reality glasses with a right hand glove called ARI (Added Reality Interface). ARI allows him to detect, collect, archive and analyse evidence from any crime scene.
The third playable character is Scott Shelby, a private investigator on the trail of the Origami Killer. He is an ex-cop who also suffers from asthma.
Finally, the only female character of the cast, Madison Paige. She is a journalist who by chance gets involved with the Origami Killer case when she checks into a motel for a good nights rest. She is suffering from insomnia and nightmares. She is also a potential love interest for Ethan.
One of the reasons I was interested in this game was not only because of the cool name for the serial killer, but also because the gameplay was so different from the games I normally enjoy. As an interactive plot driven game, you feel as though you are part of a movie. Everything unfolds naturally and you are involved in key actions and movements. I won’t say they are critical actions as the narrative is very linear and will unfold whether you perform actions correctly or not. Your actions do make a difference though, so don’t feel too disheartened. If you miss an action or perform it incorrectly you could change the storyline slightly, but not enough to derail its outlined plot, just how you get there, which could result in characters dying and consequently affect the ending.
If you have a look around the internet at other reviews, most are negative towards the plot. To summarize the essence of these reviews: “for a game that was marketed to be an interactive plot driven game, Heavy Rain lacked in plot”. I tend to agree to a certain degree.
On a first play through the plot is very well thought out and it most definitely keeps you engaged. However if you are very perceptive and pick up little things quickly you will start to notice the gaps. There were a few instances in the narrative where I thought: “What does this have to do with anything?” But if you managed to perform the actions flawlessly for the whole play through it makes sense. It’s only if there were instances where you failed – which I did – that you might not get access to some of the story arcs, which will have you pondering about the importance. Apart from this there may be a few weak spots in the plot, but in my opinion not enough to take away the enjoyability.
I must admit that even with my keen observational skills I didn’t figure out who the Origami Killer was until the reveal. But on the second play through all the clues were there and I naturally felt like an idiot!
It’s also nice to know that some of your decisions and actions can result in one of 17 possible endings for all four characters. Note, characters can actually die!
This is just for fun! Origami was a central part in the game, which made this all the more enjoyable. I like origami and have even folded my own kitty bookmark (as a tribute to my late cat) and therefore it was a no brainer for me to try the origami figurine appearing on the box art.
So after playing the game twice I’m not really sure if I’ll play it again any time soon, maybe a year or so from now. I’d say that the replay-ability of these interactive linear narrative type games aren’t very good. Even though this is the case, I still personally think the plot is good and there is enough mystery and suspense to keep you glued to the PS3. So I’m giving it a three on The Mystery Corner’s rating system.
Have you played any great games lately? Any thoughts on them?