Some games are hard to compare to anything else. When you’re faced with a standard shooter or strategy, you can easily say “it’s an experience similar to this and that game”. But with Heavy Rain, it’s a different story – we can’t say we’ve played many games quite like it, and the innovation used by the (relatively unknown) developers makes this game very easily stand out. We can probably only compare it to another game done by the same company, Indigo Prophecy.
Heavy Rain is an “interactive drama” – if you haven’t played games of this type before, the closest analogy we can think of are adventure games. In Heavy Rain, you follow the stories of four protagonists, each involved in the mysterious case of a murderer nicknamed the “Origami Killer”. Most of the time you’re controlling your character around the different sets of the levels, looking for items and interacting with the environment – which includes plenty of well-written dialog.
In some cases, you’ll have to quickly press specific buttons on the controller as they show up on the screen – a failure means that you’ll either see the story differently, or even get your character killed. This is one of the biggest differences between Heavy Rain and traditional adventure games – this is a game where you can actually die.
A very interesting idea is used in developing the plot. We mentioned earlier that the game has four protagonists and not just one. If you reach a timed event with either of the characters and you fail to complete it, leading to the character’s death, the game does not end – instead, the story goes on and that character’s death plays its role in future events. Should all four characters die, the game ends with a specific closure. Now just imagine the possible combinations of either of the four characters dying or making it to the end – these all lead to completely unique endings, giving the game a tremendous amount of replay value.
Graphics and System Requirements
Heavy Rain uses a good 3D engine for drawing its scenes, and it utilizes the PS3′s powerful hardware very competently. Everything looks very finely detailed, and the game has a grim, moody atmosphere to it the whole time. There’s an obvious heavy inspiration from noir movies, and special attention has been given to drawing unique, believable characters that simply come alive on your screen.
The developers have also licensed some Havok technology for handling the more complex aspects of physics, and you can see some very realistic effects (mainly on the characters), such as the way pieces of clothing move and collide with each other. Sadly, some of these physics goodies were exactly what precluded the game from being released on the PC, due to hardware incompatibilities.
Music plays a great role in defining the atmosphere in Heavy Rain, so turn up your volume. Better yet, if you want to fully experience the game the way it’s meant to be played, wait until it’s dark outside, turn off your lights and play with your headphones on. You won’t forget it.
When unique little gems like Heavy Rain come about, it’s our responsibility as gamers to get them, play them and talk about them, just so developers can see that there are plenty of people out there to market such games to.