So the postman finally arrived with my copy of Heavy Rain: Move Edition in the mail about a week ago. I promptly picked up the package on Saturday morning and here’s the wrap on how it went…
Now the rain is falling…
Some of you may be familiar with the whole concept of storytelling where you get to “choose your own way” as it were. Basically you, as the viewer/reader/player, are in control somewhat as to the way the story plays out, through your actions. Well, this is probably the best way to describe Heavy Rain in a nutshell.
The basic premise of the game’s story is that you play as four different characters who are desperately tracking down a serial child killer who murders his victims using rain water. Each victim seemingly has a limited amount of time to live once they’re abducted as the constant rainfall eventually kills them (I won’t go into the details of the mechanics behind that).
Reading some of the reviews out there, you may have noticed people reporting that the game starts pretty slowly, and gradually builds steam as you go. After completing the game myself, I can confirm that the early beginnings of Heavy Rain don’t do too much to draw you in, but at the same time I felt that I was making good progress.
Unfortunately I’m not yet the owner of a the PS3 Move controller, so I can’t report on my experience in that regard, but I should say that Heavy Rain’s gameplay mechanics were definitely new and refreshing to me. A lot of the events of the game focus around you performing movements with the PS3’s right joystick to make characters on the screen perform an action. The action could be something as mundane as opening a car door to get out of their car after parking it, all the way to giving someone a hard right hook to their jaw during a tense fight. This leads me onto the action-sequences of Heavy Rain…once they start, you find yourself transfixed to the TV screen watching and waiting for that next Quick Time Event (QTE) to be displayed so you can react to it. For example, during a fight, you may be called upon to press “X” on the controller as soon as prompted by the game, followed by the square, circle and almost any other button on the controller. Depending on your chosen difficulty level, these prompts will appear faster or slower. Get the responses right and you’ll be treated to the cut scene of your characters actions being played out in your favour; get some button presses wrong however (or just late), and you’ll see your adversary start to get the upper hand on you in that cutscene. Early in the game, getting some of the QTE responses wrong saw the game treat me fairly leniently and gave me a chance to “up” my game. Towards the final fight/action scenes however, get even one QTE wrong, and that could spell disaster for the characters concerned. It was quite a harrowing experience at times.
My side of the story
The storyline in Heavy Rain I felt was quite well told, and I won’t spoil any of it here, but the ending can be thought of as a bit of a twist. Initially you start off playing a father who loses one of his two sons in a tragic accident and then goes through a rather rough patch in his life. Soon after, his second son is abducted, seemingly by the serial “origami killer” that this game centres on. This is where the story takes off and you find yourself on the trail of the killer. The game then switches you between the other three characters alternatively as story unfolds, revealing a series of events that you control with your skills and abilities (to a degree). There are several different endings to the game, and any of the four characters can die during various set points in the story, thus affecting the outcome.
The developers really went all out with the story elements of the game; while at the beginning you may find yourself doing mundane things such as using your PS3 controller to direct a character to drink orange juice from a fridge, or say, take a shower (and there IS some nudity in the game btw), the middle and end parts of the game are generally filled with action and suspense. You’ll be shaking your controller in sheer suspense on cue to ensure your hero escapes from a burning wreckage of an overturned car, beating off burglars who have entered your house and doing a whole myriad of other events to ensure your characters’ survival. There are also other points in the story such as visiting night clubs to find important clues to progress the story and visiting other points of interest.
So far I’ve only played through the story once, but I must say it was a good, suspenseful eight hours worth of gameplay. My only gripe with the game is that it’s quite short. Sure, there is replay value there in the different ending possibilities, but some parts of the story are fixed no matter what you do, and I felt that it played out more like an “interactive suspense thriller movie” that you were partly in control of. Considering I only paid $40 for it (including postage from the Hong Kong eBay seller), I guess I shouldn’t really complain.
Paint a picture
If there’s any one thing that’s a standout in Heavy Rain, it’s the graphics. Being a PS3 exclusive, it really shines through in the rendering and texture quality of the characters. Some parts of the environment such as props like remote controls and the like can be a little lacking in detail, but for the most part, the environments and characters are vivid and rich in detail and this certainly helps portray the whole “movie-like” feel of the game. I should also add that the sheer graphical quality didn’t help me calm my nerves for those particularly squeamish scenes, some of which managed to remind me of the series of movies called “Saw”. *shudders*
The Move Edition of the game not only includes (as the name suggests) Playstation Move controller support, but also a bunch of other additional content; things like dynamic themes for the PS3 main interface, making-of videos, and also an additional playable scene in the “Heavy Rain Chronicles”.
In closing, I must also say that the game, at least for me, really explored the bond between father and son and how this bond can be affected by the choices and experiences that both father and son make during their times together. Without saying too much more, in a way, I couldn’t help but actually feel sorry for the origami killer when I found out his real identity and the events he was forced to experience when he was still a child. Very chilling indeed.
For anyone who hasn’t tried this title yet, I highly recommend it. Most stores are selling it locally for around $50, but you can generally find it online through eBay for cheaper (plus postage). This was one of 2010’s gaming highlights, and I can’t believe I missed it, but I’m glad I got to enjoy it all the same.
Now, time to park myself in front of the big screen TV once again with this title and see what else I can discover…
Heavy Rain Official Trailer