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Platform

Playstation 3

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Quantic Dream

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

February 23, 2010

 

 

- Looks awesome and the split screen, picture-in-picture camera angles are great
- Some really evocative music
- Replay factor

- Some very intense sequences
- An adventure game!

 

 

- I think the reveal of the killer is a cheat
- Sixaxis motions don't always seem to register
- Some story disconnects that require much suspension of disbelief
- Encountered multiple game-stopping freezes

 

 

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Heavy Rain

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

heavy rain          heavy rain

 

Heavy Rain made me really lament the passing of the adventure genre. Admittedly, it's a nostalgic attachment as my earliest gaming memories are steeped in the genre and what made adventure games so memorable -- the characters, the puzzles, the quest, -- have been absorbed by most other genres, even first-person shooters, so it's not like adventure games vanished completely, but I miss the days

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when I could figure something out at my own pace.

As much as Heavy Rain makes me think of adventure games of yore, it's definitely a jump from my nostalgic musings because there's quite a bit of reflex-dependent action. There are long stretches of rapid button-presses, directional flicks of the thumbstick, holding down a combination of

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buttons, or flailing the Sixaxis controller to illicit some kind of action. Using the on-screen prompts to manipulate objects in the environment -- open a car door, take a shower, examine items -- takes very little getting used to and when there's no pressure, it's a great way to interact with the game.

But Heavy Rain rises and falls on waves of intense action where a missed button press can result in death or a missed clue, both of which can have simple to dramatic effects on the way the story pans out.

 

heavy rain          heavy rain

 

It's not exactly a branching game, with bizarrely different endings depending on your actions through the game. The changes tend to be a little more subtle, with some sequences playing out longer or shorter, or with different people involved, but it encourages the player to dive back into the game after reaching it's conclusion, especially after flipping through gaming forum posts and comparing experiences with other players.

That doesn't mean the story is without some holes in the story. In fact, there are quite a few questions that are never seem to be answered in the game. Even with some musings to fill in the holes to answer the questions or just suspending disbelief, there are still parts that feel like a page or two is missing.

Heavy Rain starts strong with tragic protagonist Ethan Mars, picking up the pieces of his life, which is shattered again when his son is kidnapped by the so-called Origami Killer, whose victims show up days after being snatched, dead after being drowned in rainwater. The killer contacts Ethan with Heavy Rain's tagline: How far are you prepared to go to save someone you love? Which sends Ethan on a gauntlet of five trials; tasks that become increasingly horrible as tries to save his son. The other three playable characters follow plot lines that weave into what Ethan is trying to do, though from different angles.

 

heavy rain          heavy rain
 

It's the emotional involvement in the story, missing pages and all, that made Heavy Rain really stick with me hours after setting the controller down. As a parent in real life, my main goal was saving the kid before he drowned. I managed to do that on my first play through even though one of the characters died before the climactic showdown. That involvement made the action sequences all the more intense because I wanted to carry all the characters to the end so any button slip or directional error was cause for concern, especially when it came to life or death moments.

Heavy Rain is an essential title for an adventure game fan but I don't think I can limit the recommendation to "fans of the genre." It's involving in a way that most games don't even aspire to. There's still work that developer Quantic Dream can do to hone this experience to make it even more engrossing but you can't go wrong by spending time with Heavy Rain.

- Aaron Simmer

(March 5, 2010)

 

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