Step into an adult noir setting, step out of what you usually expect from a videogame. Developer Quantic Dream wanted to push for creating a game...that's actually more of a single-player "experience"; and it's safe to say they delivered on quite of those few fronts. As much promise as the game showed before release, one must ask: Does it deliver on all of its promises?
To give a quick history lesson, Quantic Dream has delivered a previous QTE/Adventure game called Indigo Prophecy/Farenheit (varies depending on country). Before that, the inception of QTE's occured in Shenmue, and has been used as a game variant for a plethora of games in almost every genre. While the QTE might be an overused side-feature, -ironically- very few games actually develop it to become an integral part of the gameplay. Enter the challenge for a game developer to create zeal in a new fanbase in which the main formula is normally filler in many other games. It is now easy to understand the risk-reward for creating this game.
Heavy Rain is a near-future noir game set in undisclosed city focused around the murders of young boys by the heralded Origami Killer. All that is known about this mysterious, supposed psychopath is that he/she murders boys by drowning, dumps their body somewhere, and leaves an origami figurine next to his/her victims. The story to find the killer is a 4-pronged storyline, in which 4 characters: Norman Jayden, Ethan Mars, Madison Paige, and Scott Shelby become intertwined as you progress through the game.
The beginning of Heavy Rain revolves around Ethan Mars and ,to exspunge spoilers, his reasons for getting involved in the Origami Killer's tangled web. FBI Agent Norman Jayden and Private Eye Scott Shelby's revealed drives for this Orgami Killer case are that of assignment by their agency and the victims' mothers, respectively. The one character that falls into this investigation is photojournalist Madison Paige.
This thrilling tangled web of lies leaves a story waiting to be uncovered; however, many of these questions are left unanswered or the answers that are just anticlimatic. One of the main components, Ethan's blackouts throughout the game, driving the psychological thriller portion is never properly explained. Beyond that lies some uneven pacing, other unanswered questions, and cheap-parlour tricks incorporated into the main plot twist of the game. Having said that, you'll be greeted by a great amount of suspenseful moments that still drive the game to be a great experience.
To say Heavy Rain is a beautiful game would be an understatement. From delivering crisp close-ups substituted as a static loading screen to the top-notch voice acting, HR (Heavy Rain) certainly capitalizes on the cinematic experience aspect of the game. You are greeted by direction similar to that of movies; certain moves like camera pans, multiple camera angles running simultaneously, among many other ideas incorporated in many movies are used to vary the slower, humdrum moments. Incorporate these directing ideas with a somber tone and you then have the makings of a great noir feel. It certainly has a few imbalances graphically, but it's nothing that's detriment to the overall visual appeal. Overall, almost every aspect of the audio/video side is top-notch and delivered with expertise and panache.
As stated earlier, Heavy Rain is a QTE Adventure game. What that translates to, for those unfamilar with the term, is an adventure with most of your action movements throughout the game revolving around pressing, holding, or tapping a button; on top of that, you also have motion control actions from the Sixaxis on the PS3 controller-as well as the Playstation Move-. If failing or succeeding in making the right moves, you'll be greeted with the appropriate animations translated on the screen. Whether it's simply shaking orange juice or evading police, the different button combos are both varied and well-impletemented.
What gravitates this game to great heights is having the volition that can be either life or death for your character(s). What makes this aspect of the gameplay so compelling is the idea that the story must go on. If any of your playable character dies throughout the game, the game keeps rolling and you see the consequences unfold later in the game. Entire parts of the story can be missed simply by making one choice! For example, one of your characters will be pinioned spread eagle on a table, struggling for his/her virtual life while trying to make a narrow escape (in which you only have a small amount of time to escape). Wrap up all of these aspects together, and you have the makings of a unique experience hampered by hitches that are diminutive in comparison.
In the end, Heavy Rain delivers a one-of-a-kind experience for this gen; although, also bringing a big double-edged sword in regards to the story side of the game. Although game stories aren't always a deciding factor in a game, this could be found to be exception by some. I personally have always thought a noir game's/movie's/etc. story is ipso facto a great one, so it is understandable to hold this aspect to a higher standard. The minor flaws when it comes to clunky controls and a sometimes-iffy camera can harm the experience, but it's nothing game breaking. I personally can't recommend this game for all adventure fans; however, if you are beginning to abhor those vapid shooters that seem to keep coming then you should definately try this game out.
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