I’ve now played twice through the opening scenes of Heavy Rain. My response the second time couldn’t have been different to the first. The first time I found myself captivated; the second I was cringing throughout.
When I played the first hour of Heavy Rain in December I quickly grew attached to Ethan, the first playable character. I appreciated the quiet moments as he and I worked on his architectural designs and I felt his distress and anxiety as we lost one of his sons in a shopping mall.
Yet on my return to these scenes, thanks to the review copy, none of what happened affected me. I played it quickly, rushing to get to new territory. Doing so, I found myself less interested in the events of Ethan’s life and more aware of the awkwardness of much of the character interaction. Unnatural dialogue abounds, accompanied by unconvincing animation and that grotesque thousand yard stare when gazing across the uncanny valley.
Moving into a new scene, my scepticism extended to the character study that had at first attracted me. Ethan receives an anonymous threat in the mail, but has nothing to say about it. When you hold L2 you are often presented with a “thought cloud” allowing you to hear what’s going through the protagonist’s mind. Upon reading this letter, Ethan’s thought cloud was empty. It was as if he’d just opened the gas bill.
In the same scene he picks up the newspaper and appears shocked at the front page story about the “origami killer” seemingly striking again. But once more Ethan is mute and his thought cloud bereft of any insight into his state of mind. His character, like his vacant stare, is utterly blank.
I’m curious to play further though. I want to understand what drew me in that first time and what’s changed since to push me away. Is it me? Or is it Heavy Rain? I plan on finding out this weekend.
What’s going to draw you in this weekend?