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May 13, 2013 | by  | in Arts Games |
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Review – Heavy Rain

Never in my born days have I been so stressed playing a video game. Love-child of French developer Quantic Dream, Heavy Rain is video-game experimentation done right. The story follows four characters, a cop, a reporter, a private investigator, and a father, in their quest to find the Origami Killer: a serial murderer infamous for leaving a trail of drowned young boys, each with an orchid on their chest and an origami figure in their palms.

Alas, as with everything but ballet, the less you are told about the plot the better. What put me in such a state is the fact that once a character ‘dies’, they die—no game overs, no retries. They are permanently removed from the story. And I liked the characters, a lot—they’re all flawed, and lonely, and they break my heart with their motion-captured melancholy. This made every decision a major investment. If you are prone to lingering and crippling regret this may not be the game for you. That, coupled with such a profoundly cinematic, high-intensity game, with so much on the line, meant I was haemorrhaging over every decision I made. The decisions you make in this game put you through some very uncomfortable moral positions and not in the usual polar, good-or-evil, video-game, blow-up-the-city, don’t-blow-up-the-city kind of way. The clue is in Heavy Rain’s slogan: “What would you do to save someone you loved?”—a question that is continually delivered in various morbid ways.

The game is primarily a mixture of action sequences and investigation scenes, leads found from previous endeavours lead you into the next scene of that character. What further sets this game apart is the unusual control system and the use of opaque prompts superimposed onto the scene. One section has you contorting your way through a maze of live power-grid cables while the onscreen prompts force you to delicately play twister with your fingers on the controller. Overall, Heavy Rain is a highly cinematic innovation of video games and one of the better games of this generation.

Look out for Quantic Dream’s next brain-melter: Beyond Two Souls, starring Ellen Page and co-starring Willem Dafoe. I, for one, am giddy.


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