Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review: Heavy Rain (spoiler-free)

I've been playing video games for a long time and never have I played a game quite like Heavy Rain. Remember those old choose-your-own adventure books that were popular back in the 90's?  Heavy Rain is like a choose-your-own adventure video game...on steroids.  It is an adventure game at heart that features quick-time events, which have different outcomes depending on how many buttons you manage to hit. Although the game certainly has flaws, every adult PS3 owner should play this game.

I stress the word adult, because this a mature game in every sense of the word.  Where games like Grand Theft Auto receive the M rating for language and crazy amounts of violence, Heavy Rain gets the M rating for all those reasons combined with scenes of intense psychological decision-making that truly have you considering your own personal morals as a person.

Heavy Rain's main draw is the story and I have to say I was sucked in from the very beginning.  I'm not sure I've ever played a game that has literally had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. You really begin to develop a relationship with the characters as you progress and you'll find yourself striving to get the best possible ending for them.  Did I mention there's no game over screen?  That's hold their very lives in your hands.  Miss a button sequence and a particular character may never be seen again.  The story will simply continue on without them.  This is partially why Heavy Rain manages to draw you in so quickly.  Every button and decision you make feels monumentally important.

One of the game's four main characters

The great thing about the decisions and quick-time button sequences is that you don't really know how much it will affect the overall story.  You might think that sounds like a disadvantage, but let me explain.  I played through the game with several friends playing along at the same time.  At times, we would make different choices and end up with the same result.  In other instances, one of us could miss a small detail and our story was totally changed.  One example is a particular fight scene where my friend missed a couple button presses during a quick-time sequence.  Although his character lived through the fight, he missed an extremely vital piece of information that came as a result of hitting all the buttons in that fight.  Because of the fact that you don't know if you are making a life or death decision, you feel the pressure with every button you press because it could totally change the game.  You just never know.

As I said earlier, the game truly had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  I simply could not play the game while laying down.  The second I relaxed, a quick-time button sequence would pop up in the middle of an intense scene and I was forced to jolt myself into a position ideal for extreme focus.

Your satisfaction with the game's conclusion will result mostly from the decisions you've made throughout.  Some have noted that the last few chapters are a bit of a letdown and that there are several plot holes at the end.  I do agree with the the plot hole argument (although most of the major stuff is answered), but I absolutely loved the last few chapters.  Maybe it had to do with the particular characters I had living or dead, but I loved Heavy Rain's final chapters and my story's outcome.  Oh and for the record...I was completely and utterly floored when the Origami Killer's identity was finally revealed.

I highly recommend this game to any adult PS3 owner.  Heavy Rain is far from perfect, but it's just one of those games where you completely ignore the flaws.  I became so engrossed in the story that even the game's wonky control scheme felt second nature.  You'll be saying to yourself, "yes this game has flaws, but man it sure does get a lot of things right."  Unique, original games like Heavy Rain don't come around too often.  Buy it.  Now.


1 comment:

logankstewart said...

This just reaffirms the fact that I should buy this game. Now. It's the kind of game where I can see myself playing through a few different times, letting things happen and not happen to see the outcomes.

Seems like I read somewhere that the script to this game was around 3000 pages, due to the different endings and the excellent dialog.

Indeed, I hope to play this game, and hopefully soon.

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