Heavy Rain Review
When I popped Heavy Rain into my brother's PS3, I had only heard of a few things: that it was all Quick Time Events, and that if someone died in the game, you can't get them back. While waiting for the game to install, I ran through my head what I would do if someone died, and eventually got more and more intrigued with the idea of this game that I wanted to solve the mystery as soon as possible. After playing through, Heavy Rain does enough to intrigue, and tells one good story while it's at it.
Heavy Rain is set in a nameless town, but it sure does rain a lot during Fall. The story takes you on the path of four characters all trying to find the Origami Killer in their own different ways. Heavy Rain's plot intertwines between the four characters to help tell the tale of the Origami Killer: a human being whos course of action in terms of murder is to leave the victims in drain wells and let the rain drown the victim over the course of 3-4 days. The whole catch of Heavy Rain is its use of Quick Time Events, the only real button that will be used as a normal use is walking, which is done by the R1 Button. Everything else, including the game's many action scenes, are controlled by hitting the correct button within the time limit, or mashing a certain button a number of times, to holding down multiple buttons for an amount of time. Heavy Rain feels like it plays more of a cutscene or a movie more than a game, for the majority of the game is done via cutscenes with Quick Time Events. With this being the main facet, a good portion of the gaming world may not like the idea of a whole Quick Time Event game; especially with many games now using them, and in some cases, very poorly. What Quantic has been able to do with Heavy Rain is base a game where having QTE's work better than having a structered move set. The feel of the game comepletely surrounds the Quick Time Event standard and has a sense of polish that really shows throughout the course of the game. I couldn't really see Heavy Rain having any success if you had a move set.
With Heavy Rain running the course of the gameplay through simple button presses, the relation of graphics to gameplay are a lot more centered toward the former. For Heavy Rain to truly shine, it will need to 'wow' players with graphical achievements that have been met by few games. Since Heavy Rain has a majority of its game in a cutscene-like feel, Heavy Rain looks very well close-up and in motion throughout, and really shows that concern that was brought to the table when making Heavy Rain. One very good example is the Loading Screen in between story lines; for whichever character you will be playing as through the game's current arc, you are shown a close-up look at the character, in a view that almost makes your eyes avert to a double-take as the character models creep the edge of real-life individuals. Even if the loading screens contribute nothing to the game other than showing who you are playing as, it pulls you into the story as you sense a feeling of you are this character, looking to themself, ala Being John Malkovich. When achieving a graphical milestone like Quantic Dream has done, you have to applaud their direction with Heavy Rain.
While the Quick Time Event gameplay is an interesting and successful idea to definitely make Heavy Rain as enjoyable as possible, no game is perfect with the Quick Time Events, and Heavy Rain at times falls short. While PlayStation 3's SixAxis is an interesting facet of its controller: it is an absolute pain to use in Heavy Rain. SixAxis is the PlayStation 3's controller's ability to achieve certain tasks by moving the actual controller in a direction. When you need to use the SixAxis in Heavy Rain, if it's not positioned in the right angle: it doesn't register. So while you're in a tense scene fending for your life, shaking the controller madly not understanding why it isn't working, well: you needed to take the time to angle the SixAxis correctly, but now your character is paying the price of ill-intended work with this addition. Having a character almost meet his ultimate demise because you didn't angle your controller correctly really hurts the immersion when you have to set and adjust yourself instead of rampantly hitting buttons to coordinate your character.
For Heavy Rain having multiple endings, a slow pace in the beginning definitely hurts the replayability and progression. Heavy Rain gives a long, near 2-hour tutorial leading up to the main story arc; for players replaying the game, there's no way to skip this, nor does replaying it do much to change the endings of the story. Its first run-through really sinks in for the later spots in the story, but repeated sections really don't hit as hard as they did for the first occasion. Plus, as much as I enjoyed Heavy Rain, I couldn't bring myself to play it a second time, nor play it for all the endings, because it won't sink in like it did the first time. I understand Quantic Dream's reasoning for having multiple endings, which really helped the variety of the first playthrough: but Heavy Rain plays like a movie with a big twist at the end; once you know it, it doesn't twist anymore.
Quantic Dream rolled the dice on Heavy Rain, with multiple delays and a make-or-break gameplay decision; and hits hard with an emotional, tense, and well-scripted thriller. Minus out some gameplay decisions and a lack to reboot the initial feelings from the first playthrough, Heavy Rain really packs a punch and will give you a great story to tell once the ride is over.
- + Visually Stunning
- + Full of Immersion
- + Great Use of QTE's
- + That Loading Screen...
- - SixAxis Use
- - So Many Endings, So Little Want.
- - 2 Hour Tutorial