How many months has it been since Heavy Rain was released? And I still haven’t had the game spoiled? That must be a record of some kind with all the GAF I subject myself to. Heavy Rain lives and dies by its surprises and if it were spoiled, I don’t think I would have enjoyed nearly as much as I did.
Notice that I said “surprises” and not “story” because I felt Heavy Rain’s story wasn’t particularly well assembled. There were leaps in logic and a number of oversights I had to let slide in order accept what was going on. But what Quantic Dream executed well upon were their surprises. I won’t get into them, but this game placed me in a number of exhilarating situations. Most of which I’ve never seen in a game before. You will be surprised by this game. I guarantee it.
The closest guarded secret, the killer’s identity, was — surprisingly — well hidden thanks to the numerous (and eventually obvious) red herrings thrown at me. There were many characters involved in the story as well. All of which could have been the killer at one point or another thanks to their sordid and troubled pasts.
Other pleasant surprises I discovered throughout my playthrough included how the Dual Shock 3 controller was utilized to help empathize with the on screen characters. Uncomfortable button prompts were used to communicate uncomfortable situations or maneuvers while slow and methodical prompts were used to emphasize the care required for a situation. I didn’t think it was possible to illicit these sensations with a controller, but they did it.
However, the controls were not perfect. In the heat of the moment, the controller’s motion sensor wasn’t as precise as I would have liked. It’s fortunate that it took a lot more than a single missed prompt to alter the outcome of an event, because there were a number of times when I failed to execute the required motion. However, even during the slower investigative or exploratory moments, I was still having a bit of trouble getting the character to move as intended thanks to the tank-like controls and shifting perspectives. It was cinematic, but not particularly easy to get a handle on.
Heavy Rain was used as a graphical showpiece in 2006 and it’s still one today. The detailing in the environments was especially striking for me. The character models weren’t as well animated as Uncharted 2’s, but I digress. The only blemish to Heavy Rain’s looks were the framerate dips and screen tearing which marred an otherwise impressive effect (See ARI’s customization options.)
The most prominent presentation snafu had to be the audio work. More specifically: the voice acting. I mentioned it before in the comments of this post, but Norman Jayden’s voice work was top notch compared to those of the children. Everyone of those kids were sporting some of heavy and unorthodox accents. It was distracting and laughably bad. It’s tough to take a touching father and son moment seriously after hearing them. Oh, and they should have limited how often I can repeat a phrase because my version of Ethan sounded like a lunatic. It was my decision, but still.
What I appreciated most from Heavy Rain were the choices it presented me. I could approach the game in a number of situations and it was not until I went back and began replaying sections that I realized that some of those choices didn’t really matter in the end. They really pulled off that illusion of choice in this one. And what I found to be courageous of them was that they never made the choices apparent. There were suggestions and a “right way” to do things, but I could ignore all of that and continue playing the game and shape my own version of Heavy Rain.
That’s what I loved most about this experience and that alone makes it something everyone should partake in.
For more information on Heavy Rain, visit the official website.