Heavy Rain
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-06-09 PS3 Action/Adventure M (Mature) Quantic Dream / SCEA

Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit, for our European friends) quickly became one of my "most favorite games ever" way back when I played it on the PS2. I've always hoped for a sequel, and even though I didn't get one - so to speak - I was really happy to get my hands on Heavy Rain and take my time to enjoy it.

I wasn't too happy with my first few moments with Heavy Rain and main character Ethan Mars, though. It was too mundane. I mean, if I want to brush virtual teeth, I might as well go play The Sims! "But ok", I thought to myself, "I'll put up with the teeth brushing, shaving, showering and whatnot. This is bound to get better." Much shaking of the WiiMote later - oh, I'm sorry, I mean the DualShock controller - I felt my virtual teeth were squeaky clean and my chin smooth as a baby's ass. And then I had to help with the groceries. And set the table. And play with the kids. Bleh, bleh, and more bleh! Where was the action? The excitement? The non-mundane stuff?

And so the family goes to the mall. Oh, joy! Let's go buy some shoes for the kids... But wait, where is the other one? Damn kids, never listening to parents. So I ran around, and around, and around, trying to spot the balloon I had just bought for the kid, and pressing X to call for Jason. Jason? Jason! JASOOOON! I swear, this is going to be in my subliminal Jason forever. Library! My subliminal library! ...see?

Many Jasons later, dad and son get ran over by a car. Fast forward to a depressed and scruffy Ethan, obviously separated from his wife, and now attempting to bond with his estranged and seemingly depressed other son, Shaun, at the park. Lo and behold, you blink and Shaun is gone. But this is where the REAL story begins, a race against time to find Shaun, the most recent victim of the Origami killer.

This killer's M.O. involves kidnapping young boys, sending origami figures to their parents, and so far, every victim has been found drowned roughly four days after their disappearance. The game will focus on four different characters (much like in Indigo Prophecy, only every character has definitely a greater deal of importance) and their connection to each other, as well as their individual efforts to track down the killer and save Shaun. Aside from Ethan, you will also be in the shoes of FBI agent Norman Jayden, journalist Madison Paige and private detective Scott Shelby.

If you played Indigo Prophecy, you will feel right at home with Heavy Rain for the context-sensitive moments a.k.a. press this button NOW! Press this button many times NOW! Press and hold THIS button! Press and hold THIS button and now hold THAT one but don't let go of the FIRST one! For this message in French, press and hold 1.

I'm usually pretty bad at these, and sometimes I was so involved in watching the action that I'd forget to press the buttons (the same happened in Indigo Prophecy). Fortunately, you can adjust the difficulty at the start of the game according to how familiar you are with the controller. We can also go back to the main menu and restart any chapter we have already played (otherwise, the game will constantly auto-save at certain "checkpoints").

What's different is the way you can control what your character says and listen to what they are thinking at times. Speech and thought options will float around a characters' head, and you press the respective button of what you want to say or "think". If you don't make a decision quickly enough, the game will pick for you whichever option is currently in front of the character. There are times when everything will be very shaky, blurry and hard to read, usually in stressful situations, and you will encounter many of those.

Ethan's efforts to reach Shaun before the rain reaches a critical level are what you make of them. You can either succeed or fail miserably. The clues you gather towards solving the puzzle depend on your attention to detail, and not only with Jayden and his super-duper ARI (Added Reality Interface) glasses and glove which make traditional crime scene investigation obsolete. Sometimes, you will be asked simple questions such as the color of clothing someone was wearing or a particular door number, and you realize that you weren't really paying attention, and you know for sure this will have a consequence in the game. The story constantly adapts to your actions and responses.

As far as technicalities, I didn't experience any bugs, glitches, graphic problems or sound issues of any kind. The most annoying tech problems were the loading times (I saw a particular screen so many times that I can safely announce Norman Jayden has an ingrown hair on his chin - hooray for detail!), and some camera angles reminiscent of Resident Evil, ending up with me walking in a completely different direction of where I wanted to go.

Heavy Rain is a fantastic game. Yes, I did complain, but the beginning just seemed so boring and unimportant, and it turns out that it's only the foundation of a fantastic story. The action moments kept me on the edge of my seat, a car chase had me playing upside-down on my sofa (yes, I'm serious, and I have a picture to prove it!), the ARI was just fascinating to use to analyze evidence, and all the bits of story leading up to the reveal of this Origami killer are just so well put together that I can even forgive (but not forget) the WiiMote-like hygiene sequence.

I drove against traffic, crawled through glass in a dark tunnel, was electrocuted, cut my own finger off and killed a man. How far would you go get your son back?