Heavy Rain is a unique experience that places you in control of four main characters that must solve the case of the Origami Killer. Unlike previous games before it, Heavy Rain’s game play focuses on quicktime events instead of standard free-roaming controls for combat, communication, and investigating locations.
The quicktime event was originally pioneered by Don Bluth in 1983 with his arcade laserdisc smash-hit Dragon’s Lair. Unfortunately, games like Dragon’s Lair were linear and limited the player to a sparse number of moves, giving the illusion of control. Technology was the biggest limitation back in 1983, but the vision lived on.
The quicktime event started appearing in limited form in games like Resident Evil 4 by Capcom. The format added cinematic elements that would be impossible otherwise. The question is; how does it stack up when used as the primary foundation for a game? Developer quanticdreams has somehow married the quicktime event into a comprehensive system that is intuitive and interactive. Ethan Mars – the father of the boy who is eventually kidnapped by the Origami killer – begins his day like any other.
The on-screen quicktime indicators highlight actions that can be easily activated (the events closely mimic the way they would be achieved in real-life). Rolling the analog joystick in the direction indicated will make Ethan sit up in bed.
After rising from the bed by using another indicator, multiple quicktime indicators (which appear as arrows and joystick rolls) highlight the objects you can interact with. You can freely walk in your environment by pressing and holding the R2 button and turning with the left analog stick. The biggest drawback are the awkward camera angles which can be toggled by pressing L1. Sometimes the perspective changes from head-on to behind your character, causing a feeling of disorientation.
Throughout the game you will play the role of four characters trying to solve the mystery behind the Origami killer. Ethan Mars has a special interest in the Origami Killer since he kidnaps his son. The beauty behind HR is its evolving story line. Everything you say, the actions you take, and the people you interactive with changes the story and determines who the killer might be in the end. HR has multiple shocker endings and one true ending, but getting there is an exciting ride. Another interesting prospect is having one of the four main characters die. This changes the story completely, and events that would have occurred when they were alive will not happen.
It is also possible to make friends or enemies during your investigation. FBI Agent Jayden – one of the four controllable characters in HR — spends most of his time pared up with local police officer Blake. Officer Blake is a loose cannon that beats witnesses and breaks the law. How you handle Blake as FBI Agent Jayden determines how Blake will treat you. In some scenarios, Blake will allow an assailant to beat you down (if you fail to fight them off) if you don’t conform to his erratic behavior.
Some events require a series of buttons to be pressed (in excess of three or more) to complete a scenario. While these five-finger quicktime button sequences are not perfect, there is a feeling of suspense when you’re trying to unbuckle a seatbelt in a turned-over car or fleeing from a burning building. The story is full of these climatic events and they are executed perfectly.
Heavy Rain by developer quanticdreams is a fantastic experience despite some of the minor flaws mentioned earlier. With photo realistic visuals, an award-winning sound track, and a story that leaves you guessing until the very end, Heavy Rain is a must-have title for any Playstation 3 gamer. Here’s hoping that Heavy Rain paves the way for future titles of its kind.
Score 10 out of 10
Mike ‘STGuy1040’ Pittaro
Platform: Playstation 3