As one of the biggest PS3 exclusives to release to date, Heavy Rain was looking to set the bar for video game development, and provide one of the most unique and immersive video games to date. Well they say when it rains...it pours, and Heavy Rain has certainly lived up to the hype. Quantic Dream has definitely took some risks with this game, and by doing so has set the bar very high for the video game industry. With its controversial gameplay mechanics of having the majority use of Quick Time Events, Quantic Dream has pulled it off and with flying colors.
The story of Heavy Rain is based on whats called the "Origami Killings" where a serial Killer has killed 5 children, and leaves a signature Origami figure in their hands and an Orchid on their chest. You play as one of 4 main characters in the story. Ethan Mars, a young upcoming architect; Madison Paige, a photojournalist; Norman Jayden, FBI detective sent to help catch the Origami killer; and Scott Shelby, a Private Investigator hired by the families of the victims to catch the Origami Killer. Gameplay starts off slow with basic events preceding to the Origami Killings. Which give you a brief introductory to the many different types of QTE triggers. QTE controls range from holding multiple buttons at certain times for certain time periods to use of the sixaxis sensors in the PS3 controller.
To walk you have to hold down R2 while controlling your characters direction using the analog stick. This can take a little getting used to. It takes about an hour or so of gameplay before you start getting into the real meat of the storyline...and its there where Heavy Rain really shines. This game is PHENOMENAL, there are more elements to it than quick time events.
The decisions you make affect the outcome of the game, each time you are faced with a situation, and you are given options to choose how you want the character to handle them. Each decision effects the outcome of that event which in turn effects the outcome of the game. So far I have found to be 8 different endings to the game. The games mechanic is based on adaptability...if a character dies...the game continues without that character and adjusts the story accordingly. There is no game over. This allows you to be able to play through multiple times and each time it can be a different experience. Meaning, that the game literally adapts and shows real life consequences to every decision you have made, both positive and negative.
One other element you encounter in the game is with the FBI agent, the ARI system. Its a system that the agent uses to help find clues in locations of suspects, or murder scenes. Then you will return to do a once over of the clues, in a virtual world that...well its best if you see it for yourself! This is a very nice turn from the typical QTE gameplay elements that most of the game delievers, but its one of the most enjoyable and best experiences in the game. The virtual office is just stunning!
The games key strength however, is its effect on the player. Never have I ever played a video game, and have felt so emotionally exhausted afterwords. There are so many times you begin to immerse yourself within the game so deeply that you begin to connect with the characters. Add that to a great mix of effective sound and visuals, and you begin to panic when the decisions you make could or will cost a persons life in the game. There are even MANY choices you may not want to make....but know you have to make. The storyline and game is all based around one simple statement..."how far are you prepared to go to save someone you love?" and with this game, it will do just that, push the boundaries of your personal beliefs and outlooks on just how exactly far would you go? Either way, as a gamer, its quite the experience.
Bonus Note: As a very nice added touch that should be mentioned....do you ever been in a situation where you needed something to do to past the time of the game data installing...well included with the game is a printed square piece of paper, that during game installation, shows prompts on how to make your own Origami bird.