The Origami Killer
There are other issues too. The voice acting is occasionally suspect in tone, so you get Scott Shelby jovially remarking on how life is great while he bandages the slit wrists of an informant, and Agent Jayden flipping casually between a monotone that would make David Caruso proud and his more passionate speeches that are worthy of academy awards.
There’s no getting away from the fact that Heavy Rain
has been almost indulgently designed too, with attention lavished on to things that really should have been culled in a first edit. Wandering around Ethan Mars’ apartment you can stop to brush your teeth, shave, drink and so on – each of which requires a well-timed action or QTE to be completed and none of which contribute anything at all.
There’s an argument that these things increase the immersion, but it’s also immediately obvious that these are distractions. Heavy Rain
would lose no credibility or value if it didn’t have a teeth-brushing sequence and it gains very, very little from being there – so why put it there?
Split screen views are used to excellent effect
More importantly, why put players in a situation where they have to kill time in Ethan’s apartment doing these things or just doing nothing? Parts of Heavy Rain
are actually more boring than real life, to paraphrase my girlfriend, who I played the game with.
The issue of maturity also arises, especially in Madison’s opening sequence when you get to undress, shower and dry her with motion controls. This is an adult game and obviously there’s a place for nudity within that framework, but these sequences rarely actually add anything to the game beyond over-reaction in younger players and mild discomfort in older ones. This will likely be the last time I play a game with my girlfriend in a while.
And yet Heavy Rain
is undeniably an excellent game on the whole, and in spite of these issues. It may take a while to get going, and it definitely could do with less teeth-brushing and more guidance, but when Heavy Rain
gets the balance right then it’s unbelievably effective. It’s like Russian Roulette in that you can probably play it a few times and feel nothing, but every now and then it’ll completely blow you away. You might never recover.
Glowing sunglasses - the ultimate oxymoron
Action sequences are strangely the most effective at this despite Heavy Rain
’s focus on story and characterisation, mainly because Quantic Dream proves itself to be consistently brilliant at choreography and cinematography. One early fight scene has a character fending off some home invaders and, even though it’s a QTE, the fight is easily one of the most memorable single game events we’ve had in a long while. The camera work and game balancing come together brilliantly. We had to pause the game at one point to wipe sweat out of our eyes
, such was the level of our engagement with the game.
The more melancholic and sympathetic tones of the story aren’t quite as well managed admittedly, but are by no means something that should be dismissed out of hand. Heavy Rain
’s characters are of the type that you can easily build an empathy with and there are many moments of the game that are truly touching, even if the pace is a tad erratic. You fluctuate maddeningly between teeth-brushing banalities and blitzkriegs of frantic violence. There’s little middle ground.
It’s difficult to come to a definite conclusion in these circumstances because, while Heavy Rain
definitely has a lot of tedium and indulgence built into it, it also manages to be one of the most memorable titles on the PS3 yet. It’s clearly very good at doing what it wants to do, but the problem is that what it’s striving for isn’t always totally fun for the player. Nevertheless, it’s aiming for something both admirable and groundbreaking; it wants to lead the way in terms of character-driven games and it wants you to care about the characters it’s created. It may flail and falter as it tries to find its feet, but once it has the right balance Heavy Rain
is effective in a way that very few games can claim to be.