Gamersmint Review: Heavy Rain-That sinking feeling
Ever since the monumental Dragonâ€™s Lair, many video game developers have tried to replicate the spectacle of the silver screen in our interactive medium. Whether itâ€™s Medal of Honor emulating the fantastic opening of Saving Private Ryan, or Max Payne paying homage to the slo-mo magic of the Matrix; movies have predominantly been a source of infinite inspiration for developers to draw from. But apart from the WOW factor that the Hollywood-esque set-pieces warrant, games have not yet been constantly successful at delivering emotionally strong experiences.
Enter â€“ Quantic Dream. The studio made it very clear with their first game, Omikron, that they were adept at infusing a movie-like experience with an adventure game. Indigo Prophecy further cemented the fact that Adventure gaming was far from dead. With Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream promised that they would deliver a strong emotional experience with engaging gameplay. Does this interesting experiment rise above all odds or does it sink beneath its intense ambition?
Anyone even remotely interested in Heavy Rain would know that the story is the main draw here. There has been a lot of backlash against the game regarding its Quick-Time event (QTE) heavy gameplay, but Heavy Rain has almost unanimously been expected to live up to its initial promise of delivering a powerful story.
The plot follows four protagonists, each with their own set of problems, who somehow miraculously end up crossing paths. Ethan Mars is a successful architect living the American dream with his wife and two sons. However, his world soon turns upside down as one of his sons, dies in a freak car accident, which leads to Ethanâ€™s inevitable divorce and the customary beard that comes with depression. To make matters worse, his remaining son is kidnapped by the Origami Killer (High five to bad luck), a nefarious serial killer who kidnaps children, drowns them in rain water and leaves behind an Origamiâ€¦becauseâ€¦wellâ€¦Jasonâ€™s got the hockey mask covered and Jack had the hoes in check.
Being the crux of the story, I expected the character of Ethan Mars to be far more fleshed out and captivating than it actually is. Most of the time, Ethan comes across as boring and outright uninteresting. Halfway through the game, I could not muster enough motivation to save Ethanâ€™s son. And thatâ€™s saying a lot, considering you are constantly shown videos of the kid drowning to death. You also get to play as Madison Paige, a struggling journalist, who suffers from insomnia and sympathizes with Ethanâ€™s cause. While this might be a plus point for some of you perverts out there, I could not stand Madisonâ€™s mysterious ability to drop her pants and flash her knockers to solve every problem. Iâ€™ve seen porn movies where the actresses had better motivations toâ€¦wellâ€¦you know.
Also in the mix is Scott Shelby, an ex-cop turned private detective, who is investigating the Origami Killer case while fighting his chronic Asthma. While Shelby shows some promise in the beginning, his character does a back flip towards the end and the player is left confused, wondering if they are in control of the same character. The most interesting parts of Heavy Rain, feature FBI agent Norman Jayden. Trying to fend off his severe drug addiction, Jayden seems far more interesting, mostly because he is the only guy on the roster who is just trying to do his job. Ethan is caught up in a â€˜SAWâ€™ like situation for the most part; Shelby is battling crime lords and Madison is busy showing ample skin to extract information, while Jayden investigates crime scenes, shuffles through clues and does what you expect an FBI agent to do.
The game does hint at some interesting Butterfly Effect like situations where Ethan has blackouts and wakes up to find himself at a totally different location. However, the plot never explains what happened during these blackouts or why they happened at all. The conclusion itself reveals glaring plot-holes that even the most unobservant of gamers will notice. I couldnâ€™t help but feel cheated at the end because for once I believed that Quantic Dream would not make the same mistake with Heavy Rain that they did with Indigo Prophecy. Both games are fast off the blocks but hardly manage to crawl past the finish line.
The developer touted Heavy Rain as a game with big choices that will affect the final outcome but this holds true only for the last 20 percent or so of the game. People looking to explore different scenarios need to not play the whole game again, as most of the endings can be easily achieved by replaying the very last chapter. For a game that boasts 22 â€˜variedâ€™ endings, itâ€™s sad that in truth, there are just 3-4 endings rehashed over and over again with minute variations.