Reader Review: Heavy Rain

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This review was submitted by Dana Koch. If you’ve played Heavy Rain, or just want to ask Dana more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Heavy Rain (PS3)

Heavy Rain is David Cage's most recent implementation of the "interactive movie", but I imagine that this will be the first exposure to the Quantic Dream treatment of the genre for most. Billed as an exploration of the question, "How far will you go to save someone you love?", the game does not veer too far off that mark. It's all about Ethan Mars, a devoted father who gets thrust into a life change for the worst, and is set on an excruciatingly difficult journey to - possible, depending on how you make your choices - redemption. Warning: spoilers.

Loved

Storytelling: The storytelling and pace has been mentioned in some other reviews as a downpoint, but it's actually quite strong; for example, nothing quite matches the emotional impact of seeing Ethan's life change so dramatically from the life he has had before: happy, stable, productive, to seeing him on the other side of the opening credits sullen, depressed, and late to pick up his son in the driving rain. While some of the story developments are a bit awkward, and a knowledge of thriller cliché can help you nut out some of the expectations of the characters, there are still some interesting and genuinely revelatory moments through the game. Some of the trials Ethan is faced with are excruciating to even think about when the player is presented with them, and having to play literally in a character's shoes like this makes the decisions Ethan makes for the trial seem that much more difficult.

Soundtrack: The soundtrack is well written, lush, and cinematic. Every character has a theme, but Ethan's leitmotif stands out, and is used in some other incidental music throughout the game - really, while you play some extra characters in the game, their stories are really supporting acts for Ethan, and the soundtrack to some extent reflects this.

Hated

QTEs: The much-maligned quick-time events feel rather goofy. It feels silly sometimes, and thankfully, this subsides after getting drawn into the action and story, but it feels rather unnecessary in retrospect. Having the notion of choice and free will is key to most modern storytelling games, but having quick-time events as a means to execute this doesn't feel like the right choice to make.

Voice Acting: Yes, the voice acting isn't perfect. Lauren's voice for example gives her French heritage away in the second chapter (such as, when she says "50 bucks"), and Norman introducing himself with his first name sounds very strange. It isn't such a big deal, but it's noticeable, and breaks immersion at times.

Overall, what's important in a game like this is good storytelling, and if that is present, then the rest almost feel like nitpicks. Luckily, Heavy Rain tells a good story with exceptional characterisation that will most likely keep you engaged, and that's always a win.

Reviewed by: Dana Koch

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Comments

    I too, am in love with Heavy Rain, I feel it has actually changed the way I think about gaming.

    Excellent review, agreed on all points. I didn't expect to like Heavy Rain as much as I did.

    I don't quite understand all the hate in regard to the voice acting. The game takes place in america, and admitedly, all the main characters are american (Never had a problem with Normans accent, sounded american, just a different part of america), But there's no reason to say a character like Lauren or some of the other support characters are american. They could be French or Canadian.
    The kids on the other hand ...

    I don't really see any problem with the accents/dialects of the voice actors. They all sounded great to me. If I was American I could probably pick out the problems with the accents, but as it were, I can't hear any problem.

    ahaha yeah i don't get how norman introduces himself... sounds like.. Nahmin Jayden FBI.

    Normans accent is that of someone who has grown up in or around Boston... it's that same kind of accent that Matt Damon used for The Departed.

    The kids voice acting at the beginning was pretty terrible, but I felt that they were the only ones really lacking in the voice acting department... I certainly agree that it could be assumed that Lauren was perhaps not American born.

    I didn't mind the QTE's... if their was one thing that I stuggled with it was the walking with the R2 button - but it really didn't detract from the game.

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