Heavy Rain Review
There have been a lot of unique ideas that have been thought up of for video games. In most cases, it’s another new shooter, or some sort of role playing game with a new game mechanic. However, every once in a while, one game will come out that is so different, it will nearly define it’s own genre. Heavy Rain has been called an adventure game by some, and a psychological thriller by others, but Quantic Dream, developers of Heavy Rain, have called their game an “interactive drama”.
Heavy Rain lives up to being it’s own genre, as it uses gameplay mechanics that, while similar to some action adventure games in some ways, utilizes them in a way that none of them do. Everything that you are able to do to interact in the game is shown by circles and squares that appear in the world that contain a symbol or arrow within it, which signifies what you have to press or do in order for that action to be taken place. There is no user interface, and no complicated controls, just symbols which trigger an action. For example, in order to open a car door, you are shown a box with an arrow which points to the left, which tells you that you have to push the right analog stick to the left in order to open the door. Depending on how fast you move the analog stick is reflected in-game, as the animation only happens as far as you move. Of course, during fight scenes, symbols appear with a time limit, as the events are all happening in real time. If you correctly press the button shown, you will immediately see the positive results of your actions, and vice-versa if you fail to hit the correct button. However, one of the more broken controls is the movement control. To have your character walk when you have control of him or her, you must hold down the shoulder trigger and move your character’s head with the analog stick, facing the character the direction you want them to move. While this style works for the most part, trying to angle yourself perfectly so that you are looking at the item you want to interact with can be difficult at times, and since the camera stays at a single point most of the time, with the ability to change views with the press of another trigger button, it can become a frustrating task.
Throughout the game, you play as four different characters, each which you cycle through playing as. The transitions from one character to the next are smooth, and loose ends are tied up in the previous scene before it moves on to the next one. One of the unique features of Heavy Rain is the fact that if one of the characters who you play as dies in one way or another, the game continues to progress, just without that character in any of the story anymore. Due to this, the game’s story is very fluid, and will change depending on what choices you make in a previous scene, or depending on what happens to your character. Aesthetically, the appearance of your characters can also change over the course of the game based on previous decisions. This all being said, there are many different endings which are possible to achieve depending on what happens during each of the decisions you have to make throughout the game.
The main draw of Heavy Rain is, without a doubt, it’s engaging storyline and immersive dialogue that connects the characters to each other, and more importantly the player to the characters. There are many times during the game which will test you on how you want to react; are you going to react as you think the character in the game would, or are you going to react how you yourself would in such a situation. There are also a few times where you really have to consider what feels “right” to you, and what does not. These decisions make the game very dramatic, and keep you on the edge of your seat, as you await what reaction you will get from each of your decisions.
Probably the first thing you’ll notice, though, is the immense visual style of Heavy Rain. Heavy Rain is one of the most beautiful games out there at the moment. It has an ultra-realistic style to it, on everything from the characters themselves, to the rain which constantly falls, creating an atmosphere which has yet to be rivaled. There are, of course, some imperfections with the interactions between the characters and some of the items that they carry and use, but overall, these minor issues are some that can easily be overlooked.
To add to the atmosphere of the game, a beautiful soundtrack has been developed for Heavy Rain, making each situation that you are involved in a unique experience. The choice of music during each scene is well chosen, and was created by a special orchestra brought in to create the music specifically for Heavy Rain. The combination of the deep storyline, the engaging characters and the beautiful orchestral music make Heavy Rain a very unique game which is very worth a purchase. The question of replay value, however, is a questionable one. If you are interested in seeing a different ending, depending on how else you could make the decisions posed to you in the game, this game will last you more than the eight to ten hours that one play through takes. The one downfall is that, after you already know the full storyline, connecting with it in a deeper fashion after one play through is difficult. In any consolation, Heavy Rain contains an amazing 57 trophies, with two of them being “See all endings” and “Complete the story with four characters alive”, which are two tasks which will take more than one play to achieve. Overall, if you are looking for a unique, engaging game which will show you something new, Heavy Rain is definitely the game to pick up this year.