Heavy Rain

Review

posted 2/16/2010 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS3
Heavy Rain is not the easiest video game sell.  It's a dreary adventure gameplay about depressed people, origami and a serial killer.  And there's rain ... lots and lots of rain.  This is not the uplifting game of the year.  You will not be inspired by Sony's newest adventure game.  Instead you get a gritty murder mystery that will have you guessing all the way to the end.  This is a game that asks you a simple question: Are you willing to suffer the consequences for your actions?

Heavy Rain follows several different storylines which are all happening at the same time.  At the center of the story is a serial murderer known as the Origami Killer.  Not much is known about this killer, but over the last three years he's been kidnapping children and hiding their bodies in plain sight.  The Origami Killer has struck again, this time capturing the son of a very depressed man named Ethan.  Over the past two years Ethan has suffered a number of personal tragedies, including the loss of his eldest son, his job and his marriage.  This is a man who is determined to not lose yet another thing he loves and is on a mission to rescue him before it's too late.


Across town there's a private investigator looking for the mysterious serial killer.  He's been investigating these murders for a number of years now and spends much of his time tracking down the families and looking for any hot leads.  He teams up with an unlikely ally, a victimized mother looking for payback.  He's a big cop and she's a thin woman, but together they may be able to get close enough to crack this case.

But don't think that these two freelance cops are the only people investigating the trail.  In yet another story we play Norman Jayden, a rookie FBI agent who comes to town to solve the Origami Killer case.  Although he's new on the scene, he's able to catch up by using brand new portable computer technology.  Unlike all of the other characters trying to locate Ethan's boy, Agent Jayden has a pair of sunglasses called ARI.  When he puts the glasses on he can quickly comb through the FBI's archives, cross reference DNA evidence, identify fingerprints and much, much more.

The final storyline involves a mysterious woman who checks into the same hotel as Ethan.  The two become close friends, although it's probably not for the reasons either of them would like.  Madison decides to help a sympathetic Ethan, although it seems like that only involves her fixing his wounds and making sure he doesn't lose too much blood from his injuries.  Before long she finds herself caught up in the mystery, running missions to try and track down the real killer.

Although the game is largely played the same no matter who you're controlling, each character has enough unique qualities which gives the impression of diversity.  When you control Agent Jayden you are tasked with gathering evidence and then trying to piece it all together.  The private eye's missions often involve you interrogating suspects and convincing bad guys to talk.  There are even a couple of interesting "flashback" missions that feel more like a traditional 3D platformer.


Perhaps the most emotionally jarring of the stories is the one involving Ethan.  There's no question that the story of a man about to lose everything is the most compelling of the four characters, but there's a certain urgency that is only felt when he's on screen.  His missions involve him playing a game, much like the sort of thing you might find in one of the countless Saw movies.  Ethan is given a series of missions that he needs to complete in order to learn the address of his kidnapped boy.  These missions involve everything from cutting put of his hand off to killing a man he has never met before.  If he does it, he will get a clue.  If he declines, then he may never see his child again.

This sets up the most intriguing aspect of Heavy Rain.  This is not some linear story where you occasionally hit the button; you are in full control over the fate of each character.  You can choose not to kill the pitiful drug dealer if you want, but that may mean that the game ends with a dead child.  Of course, not everything is that cut and dry, often times you'll be asked to make small choices and then live with the consequences.  Should you drink orange juice or a beer?  Should you let your kid stay up all night watching TV or should he do his homework?  Will you let others in or push them away?  Will you do what it takes to save an innocent kid?
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