Game: Heavy Rain
Age Rating: 17+, Rated M
Genre: Interactive Drama, Action-adventure
Released on: 26th February, 2010
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Game Directors: David Cage
Lead story writers: David Cage
Played on: Playstation 3
Pic Credits: IGN
A serial killer, called the Origami Killer, is on the prowl. His victims are always kids, aged between 10-15 years. Ethan Mars, a loving father, finds out that his son has been kidnapped and that his son might be the Origami killer’s next victim. Will Ethan Mars be willing to do anything to save his son? How far will he go to get his son back? Will he find the Origami Killer?
Heavy Rain belongs to the genre, interactive drama, where the player uses QTE (quick time events) to interact with the game. The game is largely based on solid storytelling.
STORYLINE AND CHARACTERIZATION
David Cage is a master storyteller and Heavy Rain proves it beyond any doubt. The narrative is very gripping and tense; it will have you glued to your seats. The player plays as four different characters; Ethan Mars, a desperate father trying to find his son, Madison Paige, a journalist suffering from insomnia, Norman Jayden, an FBI agent working the origami killer’s case and Scott Shelby, a personal investigator hired by the families of the origami killer’s victims to investigate the case.
Heavy rain has a great storyline. It’s not about heroes trying to save the world or a distraught man trying to exact revenge; it’s the story of a loving father searching for his son. The story is so grounded that it easily connects with the player. The game picks up momentum when Ethan Mars finds out that his son, Shaun, has gone missing and could possibly be the next victim of the Origami Killer. This momentum is maintained till the end of the game as the player gets to play as each of the four main characters. The game is an emotional roller coaster as it takes you through it all; the pain, the suspense, the desperation and the horror. It’s a perfect story that knows when to make you sigh, when to make you feel and when to make cry out in pure agony.
Heavy Rain is a game about choices. The story changes according to the choices made by the gamer; hence it is a different experience for every gamer. Where other games offer freedom in the form of gameplay that is, stealth or combat, Heavy Rain offers freedom in the form of choices. Every choice the gamer makes will have a consequence in Ethan’s dangerous journey to save his son. This obviously results in having multiple endings; multiple endings that actually vary. This greatly adds to the replay value and gives the player a chance to see how crucial his/her choices were. Making choices is based on on-screen prompts; a button is assigned to each choice and the player has to choose. Choosing which button to tap has never been tougher.
The four characters are very strongly defined and they all have their own flaws which helps the gamer relate to them. It was clever on the devs part to portray the weaknesses of each character as it helps the gamer see the characters as someone they can connect with. The voice acting is amazing and the characterization as a whole is very realistic.
The theme of a dad trying to save his kidnapped kid is something we have all gotten very familiar with, thanks to Hollywood. Fortunately though, this game doesn’t have any clichés. It’s a story that is much more humane and much less heroic.
There is nothing negative to point out in the narrative of Heavy Rain. Even if there was, one would be too busy wiping the tears off. The only thing anyone could point out is that it would have been great if the game was a bit longer. And that ain’t even a drawback.
Heavy Rain has quick time event based gameplay. In theory, it sounds boring. But is it?
The developers and designers of Heavy Rain deserve applause for making QTE fun. The gameplay matches the tempo of the story; its fast and laced with tension. Instead of the QTE being a hindrance, it acts as an integral part of gameplay. Cheers to the level designers who used QTE as an important part of level design. The game has many action sequences and the QTE system perfectly fits. There is also a difficulty setting that helps the hardcore gamer have a challenge. You could basically do everything you do in other games except that instead of tapping the same button repeatedly like a caveman, you have to tap the buttons that are prompted on the screen, in time. Thank you Quantic Dream for making QTE fun.
Playing as four different characters not only keeps the gamer’s perspective fresh but also help keep the gameplay varied. When you are Ethan, you need to go through various ordeals to save your son, ordeals which might cost you your life. Switch to Norman Jayden and you have to investigate crime scenes and analyze clues using your super advanced technology device called the ARI (Added Reality Interface). This helps the game stay even paced and controls the flow of information suitably.
Another gameplay aspect is the ‘think’ feature. By holding down a certain button, you can hear what your characters are thinking. This completely eliminates any need of having an objectives bar or having NPC’s bossing you around telling you what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be. And since there are no objective markers or notes; the gamer has a chance to think and figure out what he/she has to do next. If you feel lost, you can simply think and listen to your character’s thoughts. Not only does this act as a perfect substitute for the objective notes but it also helps give the gamer get a feel of the mood of the story, the mood of the character and their perspective.
The game does justice to its core foundation, the QTE. The only drawback is that there should have been more freedom in the camera movement; restricted camera movement tends to break immersion.
GRAPHICS AND MUSIC
The graphics are absolutely stunning and detailed. And for a game that came out in 2010, that kind of quality is astonishing. There are moments when the characters seem off-synch with the dialogues or the actions but it rarely happens. The environments are interactive to a high extent and the amazing graphics just seem to push the realistic factor up.
The music is excellent. Makes the gamer feel the tension through its tunes. One couldn’t have asked for a better soundtrack.