It’s hard what to make of Heavy Rain. It’s not really a game as we know it and it’s not really a movie. If you can imagine the two being merged together where you get to make some of the decisions and even control the movement of the characters then you’re close to what Heavy Rain is.
In this game, the story is the star as you play as a number of different characters who are all involved in some way with the Origami killer – a nasty piece of work that drowns people. I won’t go into any more details for fear of spoilers but let it be known that all the characters are compelling and the atmosphere in the game just draws you in further the more you play it. It’s not a happy game by any means and movies the game reminds me of are the thrillers Se7en, Zodiac, Minority Report and even Saw.
The controversial control method may not be everyone’s cup of tea but somehow it works. Gestures are used for opening doors, starting cars and even tying ties or changing babies. Do them too quickly or not correctly and you either have to try again or the story moves on. Quick time events are also used for more frantic moments during fight or chase scenes and believe me when I say they can really get the blood pumping. My only gripe here is sometimes the icons aren’t clear to read at short notice and you miss a command when otherwise you’d nail it. The game never tells you ‘game over’ though and it just means something slightly different happens in the story which of course encourages replaying it.
The graphics, motion capture and voice acting is also very convincing but it’s so good that occasionally it’s let down by the occasional visual or audio glitch or dodgy texture or ‘dead eyes’ moment during close-ups but again, it never takes away from the brooding atmosphere that sucks you into the game albeit after a slow start that lasts the first couple of hours.
If you want a game that has a high replayability factor due to multiple endings depending on your actions which is effectively a series of extremely well put together interactive cut-scenes then you’ll love Heavy Rain. However, don’t consider it if film noir’s not your cup of tea and you just want to play games where you jump around and hit things.
Heavy Rain gets the thumbs up in my book because it attempts something genuinely new and mostly, it succeeds. As a piece of interactive entertainment which will keep you entertained for at least 7 hours it gets an almost perfect 9 out of 10.
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