The term ‘videogames as art’ has never fit more. The best way I could describe Heavy Rain is basically an interactive movie. This is one game whose gripping story and mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire ride. When players start the game they are Ethan Mars, as you play out a boring average life day. Things like playing with the kids and helping with groceries is how they start to familiarize you with how the gameplay. You can move around but it is more of a way to interact with the world than to explore, even though there is some of that too. The story sets off after Ethan’s son, Jason, is killed by a car and goes into a coma. The game picks up 2 years later as Ethan’s life has fallen apart. He is separated from his wife and is plagued by guilt. He tries to keep his bond with his other son, Shaun, alive. One day, while at the park with Shaun, Ethan has one of his blackouts. He wakes to find himself on the street in pouring rain. He searches for Shaun but can find no trace of him aside from his backpack. This begins the decent into the deep mystery as players will control between 4 different characters as they try to find Shaun who has seemingly been kidnapped by the Origami Killer, a serial killer that drowns his victims in rain water.
Each character is different. Ethan has the bulk and most of the action/adventure elements in the game, while FBI Agent Norman Jayden is more of a collect clues and solve the puzzle guy. Each character fits nicely into the story and their role is important. That being said, any or all of them can be killed and if this happens the story just keeps going. This has many effects. Let’s say one character helps Ethan disinfect a cut, that would otherwise lead to his death. That character could die in the beginning, thus they can’t help Ethan and as a consequence, Ethan will die. There are many possibilities and endings that you will get depending on how and what you do in the game.
The graphics are good but the real points go to the awesome facial motion capture. This makes the characters look just shy of real and gives the facial animation a good and vibrant move from having to computerize it. Each character looks just like the actor that plays their voice. I only wish that the water effects, such as water from the sink or shower, were better. They seem so dated compared to the awesome rain effects. The voice-work in the game is very good, though the only complaint I have is that some of the characters are American, but played by foreigners, which is very noticeable, mostly the kids, in the game.
The music in the game is top notch. It will set the mood and plays right along with whatever situation you happen to be in. The sound effects in the game are also top notch but I did notice some poor quality among some minor sounds.
The thing that will keep you playing Heavy Rain is the mystery and the amazingly woven story. This will keep you at the edge of your seat and keep you playing until it is over. That being said there isn’t much replay to the game except for the different endings and opposite decisions of what you previously chose. It’s a shame I didn’t play this game sooner, but this just goes to show how many awesome PS3 exclusives there are and even more what games can actually become. When a game can go beyond being just a game and become an experience, imagine what they’ll be like in 10 years.