Review: Heavy Rain - The Hacklog | UK Based Gaming Blog | Reviews | Features | Streaming


Sunday, 11 February 2018

Review: Heavy Rain

How many of you reading this article remember the Fighting Fantasy adventure books from back in the day? Those of you that do will more than likely appreciate the similarity between that particular series and Heavy Rain that i'm about to suggest. But for those that aren't familiar with the literary works of Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone, let me fill you in.

Fighting Fantasy were, (and apparently still are) a long running series of books that gave you the chance to choose how the story panned out. Each of the books were set out into numbered paragraphs which you would use as point of reference for any decisions that you had to make. Think of them kind of like an old fashioned text adventure game from the early days of home microcomputers. You would more than likely start the book at paragraph 1 for example and then be given a number of choices, such as 'To move north turn to paragraph 62' or 'To open treasure chest turn to paragraph 124'. It's a simple and fairly primitive method of doing things but it allowed you to decide the path of which your story would take and how the adventure would flow. You could make different choices each time you read the book of course, encouraging you to go back and re-play the game as many times as you liked.

It's a similar, if not slightly more advanced concept with Heavy Rain. An impressive update of one of the more intriguing PS3 titles that has been beautifully remastered for the PlayStation 4.

Heavy Rain focuses on Ethan Mars. a guy that seemingly has the perfect life. Working as an architect he has a nice home, a loving wife and two kids that he simply adores. Alas, as is often the case in such situations, his happiness doesn't last for long. During a visit to the local shopping mall with his family, Ethan loses sight of one of his children Jason. With the mall being such a vast and crowded place, Ethan begins to panic and tries desperately to find Jason before any harm should come to him. Unfortunately, his efforts don't have a happy ending. Jason is knocked down and killed by a passing car and as a result Ethan's perfect life comes crashing down around him. His marriage breaks up, he's forced to move from his dream home into something more humbling and his relationship with his remaining son Shaun becomes severely tested.

But that's just the start of what becomes an extraordinary period of events for Ethan. Not long after we join him as he comes to terms with his new life, Shaun is kidnapped by a notorious criminal known as the Origami Killer - whose M.O is to trap their young victims in storm drains during particularly prominent periods of wet weather. They then set their victims fathers a series of challenges that they must complete in order to gain vital information relating to their child's whereabouts. If they fail to complete the challenges in time, their child will be left to meet a rather soggy end.

Determined not to lose another child, and seemingly without fear of any consequence, Ethan takes on the challenges set by the killer. These become increasingly more dark and twisted the further into the story you go. From self-amputation and dangerous driving to dodging live electricity conductors and even cold blooded murder. The Origami Killer wants to see just how far our hero will go to save his son.

Ethan isn't the only character you'll play as during Heavy Rain though. You'll also see the story through three other characters eyes. FBI profiler Norman Jayden, journalist and insomniac Madison Paige and former cop turned private eye Scott Shelby. Jayden is assisting the police with their investigation into the Origami Killer while Shelby is carrying out some rather shady personal investigations of his own. Paige meanwhile, having checked into a somewhat seedy motel in order to try and bank some much needed shut eye, becomes involved with Ethan and his mission after finding him in a bad way outside his room. Depending on how you progress their relationship this will eventually lead to Heavy Rain's infamous sex scene. Sexy it isn't. Unless unhooking a bra using poorly implemented motion controls do it for you.

As the story nears it's conclusion all four of the main characters paths and story-lines will eventually come together based on the decisions you made along the way. The ending you'll get ultimately depends on which of the main characters survived until the end, very much in the style of games such as the critically acclaimed Until Dawn.

The thing is though, as much I enjoyed my play-through of Heavy Rain it never really felt like I was playing a proper game. There's no real skill involved in playing other than the ability to react to the many quick time events that dominate the main action sequences. In many ways it's more like you're partaking in an interactive drama, albeit one with some superb acting, a gripping story-line and some mostly impressive visuals.

That's kind of what I was getting at when I drew the comparison to the Fighting Fantasy books at the start of this review. In may ways Heavy Rain is their modern day equivalent. Encouraging you to shape the eventual outcome of the story by making critical decisions that affect future events.

No matter which path you decide to take, it's certainly a story worth getting lost in for a few hours.

Version played: PS4
Buy it here:
Available on:     PS3, PS4

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