How far will you go to save someone you love? The answer should be easy. We would like to believe that we would move Heaven and Earth to protect to people we love. Then again, when faced with the actual choice, what would you be willing to do? This is the idea behind the interactive drama Heavy Rain. The Origami Killer is on the loose and you are trying to stop him, but can you live with or justify the actions you take and the choices you make to save someone you love?
In Heavy Rain, you play four characters on the search for the Origami Killer. A psychopath who kidnaps children, drowns them in rain water, and leaves their bodies on deserted wastelands with an origami figure in their hands. Each character you control has there own motivations for catching this guy. You play a father looking for his kidnapped son, an FBI agent and a private detective hot on his trail, and a journalist trying to get a story.
As the narrative unfolds through the decisions you make, the controls simulate decision making while under various levels of stress through simple or not so simple button commands. From mundane tasks like opening a fridge, grabbing a carton of orange juice and taking a swig, to heart racing, adrenaline pumping action sequences like fighting off an attacker, all feel organic and believable. Thanks in part to the wonderful use of rumble and motion controls.
The game makes it hard to put the controller down in fear of killing off one of the characters. The story keeps going even if you miss one too many button presses and unintentionally get killed. The narrative goes on with or without everyone. This gives all your actions tangible repercussions, forcing you in some instances to go with your gut, and make snap judgements. Creating even more tension by making you do some things that seem nearly impossible in a split second. Some of these are life or death situations, and the choices you make determine the overall outcome of the story.
The crime thriller storyline works well under the grimy rain soaked town Heavy Rain takes place in. Set design is fabulous, evoking small rainy Eastern port town USA to a tee. The characters are well animated for the most part, but can sometimes look like plastic dolls. The facial expressions are believable. Hints of despair and sadness accompanied with great voice over work really sells the entire experience.
However, the English voice work is hit or miss. Taking into account that Quantic Dream is a French video game developer, I recommend playing the game in French with English subtitles if needed for a more enjoyable time. The soundtrack is a mix of gloomy orchestral tones to rapid fire, tension building chase music that works well in every scene.
In most modern games, choices the player are forced to make are usually black or white, good or evil. Heavy Rain introduces believable shades of grey when making moral choices. There is a genuine feeling of the unknown and consequences with each action you take. You are never really sure what the right answer is, or if there even is one. This makes it hard to classify it as a game. It has more in common with a choose your own adventure book like the ones you used to read as a kid. You are essentially drawing your own story. Heavy Rain is easily one of the most stressful games I have had the pleasure to get through.
Heavy Rain is available now on the Playstation 3.