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Game review: Heavy rain

A life outside your own.When you partake in all your avatars’ decisions and activities, do you become them?

movie reviews Updated: Apr 07, 2010 15:17 IST
Ragavan Suresh
Ragavan Suresh
Hindustan Times

Try to remember the best mystery movie you’ve seen till date. Now try picturing yourself in the role of every single character in the movie and influencing the decisions they make. Picture seeing fear in the eyes of a criminal begging you for mercy as the rising orchestral score soaks into your brain. Now picture that movie being a thousand times more captivating and you get a rough idea of Quantic Dream’s masterpiece that is Heavy Rain.

Killer at large
The game is a hunt for a serial killer known as the “Origami Killer” who kidnaps children and murders them. At any given time, you play as one of four characters: Ethan Mars, the victim; Madison Paige, the photographer who befriends Ethan; Norman Jayden, the FBI criminal profiler sent to help local police apprehend the killer; and Scott Shelby, a private detective investigating the murders.

The gameplay is limited to walking around and interacting with people or objects and quick time events. Every major decision of yours will tweak the storyline. Characters who you anger will remain angered till the end and bad decisions will come back to bite you!

As opposed to other games having a morality system, where you end the game as either a hero or satan incarnate, Heavy Rain takes a much more realistic approach with its system of decisions. Your character is a normal person just like you.But the backbone of the game is quite definitely the quick time events. Many new modes of the time-tested QTE are used and well executed. On the highest difficulty level, even the most seasoned player will miss a few prompts — for which he shall pay dearly.

The game also manages to generate a high level of attachment to the characters. This is brought about by involving the player in every single aspect of the character’s activities. You do this for such a protracted period of time that the person on screen begins to look like an extension of your decisions and outlook of life. Making characters and environments so detailed that they appear to be real also helps as making decisions help cement the player-character bond.

Story’s in your hands
Although the game lacks the usual gameplay mechanics, it can leave your heart pounding much harder than any other action-adventure title. This is because there isn’t a continue screen; the story simply changes to include the death of your character, and plows on! This means that if you miss prompts during a shootout, there are chances of your character dying and never returning!

This mortal fear is probably the keystone of the entire attachment aspect of the game. There are no boss fights to gear up for; every chapter is a fight for survival in unforgiving game mechanics!Gameplay aside, Heavy Rain is an audiovisual masterpiece with finely detailed facial animations and characters and a rousing background score.

Characters react realistically and their attires reflect light quite well. The plaintive notes help the gravity of situations sink into the player and tend to pick up as the action heats up. With the music, lighting and constant rain, this game definitely ranks higher than Killzone 2 when it comes to atmospheric experience. You can literally smell the gloom in the air! It’s that brilliant.

Multiple endings
With the various trophies to unlock, those missed prompts to retry and the need to see every possible end to the story, this game does have a lot to offer. Suffice to say that it will take you a few run-throughs to get the whole picture. This game might not be for every gamer, but those who like it will truly love it!

First Published: Apr 06, 2010 17:03 IST