Heavy Rain: Cause And Butterfly Effect

By Spencer . February 22, 2010 . 3:42am

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The Origami Killer is on the loose and somehow tied to four characters: a hardboiled private investigator, FBI profiler with futuristic sunglasses, motorcycle driving insomniac, and a father. Will you foil the murderer or not? That’s up to you.

 

Heavy Rain begins with Ethan Mars waking up while his family is out. Pressing up on the right analog stick makes Ethan get out of bed.  Unless played through Indigo Prophecy, the way Heavy Rain has players interacts with the world should feel fresh and at times brilliant. When you help Ethan’s wife with the groceries you hold L1 and R1 to grab them. Sensitive movements like quietly opening a door and rocking a baby to sleep have players to gently move the right analog stick. During stressful events commands spin wildly and actions shake, symbolizing the state of mind your character is in. In Heavy Rain’s most difficult moments players have wrap their hands around the controller in abstract ways to hit and hold all of the required buttons. Moving is equally unconventional. You hold R2 move forward and press the left stick to change direction. Characters walk in a jerky way reminiscent of the first Resident Evil.

 

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Quantic Dream calls Heavy Rain an “interactive drama”, but the game also has action packed fights. There are times where you have to hammer out quick time events to dodge punches and wrestle with an attacker. Make too many mistakes and that character can die, but Heavy Rain doesn’t end. The story continues with that particular character’s chapters out of the plot. The thought of losing someone forever adds tension to the many life or death situations the four lead characters end up in.

 

When controlling Norman you also play the role of a detective. Equipped with ARI, dark sunglasses and a glove that identifies DNA among other environmental abnormalities, Jayden searches for clues. You can scan an area by pressing L1, then follow context sensitive commands to record clues in a virtual file. Heavy Rain expects players to pay attention and remember seemingly insignificant details so it is possible to miss clues, even if you do the game moves on.

 

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That brings us to Heavy Rain’s most impressive feature, how flexible the story is. The central theme of Heavy Rain is “how far would you go to save someone you love?”, a question loaded with moral choices. Some events are clearly branching points while other decisions have subtle effects on the plot. For the first run it’s entertaining to project yourself into the characters, but you’re always left with a hanging “what if I did or said the other thing” feeling. Quantic Dream made it easy to find out. You can revisit any completed chapter, replay it, and continue the game from that point forward on a different path. This is any easy way to collect trophies too, if you’re into digital trinkets. While you don’t have to start a new game over to see the other side of a binary choice, there are routes you won’t be able to take when you’re deep in the story.

 

The character models and detailed environments in Heavy Rain are amazing. However, I noticed a few graphical glitches in my first playthrough. Background characters in crowded scenes clip into each other and when one main character cooks eggs, which are scrambled in the pan, sunnyside up eggs float in mid-air. While funny to see, these errors aren’t problematic. Freezing is a more pressing and that happened during an intense scene near the end of the game. Fortunately, Heavy Rain auto saves so I didn’t lose much and the freeze didn’t occur in my second time around. All of these issues were present in a US retail build.

 

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One run takes around ten hours, but you won’t be able to see everything the game has to offer if you only play Heavy Rain once. The open ended nature makes Heavy Rain a better experience when you see more sides of it and that’s why I’m interested to read other player’s experiences with Heavy Rain to see what I missed.


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  • http://www.twitter.com/Celedin Celedin

    I can’t wait to play this on Friday! A Heavy Rain Facebook Files would certainly be interesting reading.

  • Chow

    I’ve seen a few people on my PSN friendslist playing it already, and I’m really jealous.

  • malek86

    I played the demo, but wasn’t particularly impressed. I can see that the story would be interesting and emotional, but the demo also showed me some cumbersome controls. Walking with R2 is difficult, your character feels like a tank. I doubt people in real life move like that. Also, some action commands. You have to do a halfmoon stick movement to take out your sunglasses? I can’t see how that’s supposed to help the immersion more than just pressing a button. Besides, and keep in mind that I already don’t like QTEs, the fight scene with the dude lasted way too much. The central theme of the game should be “how far would you keep up withspotty controls to follow a good story?”. For me, being someone who likes gameplay better than story, not much. That’s why I’m going to give the game a pass.

    You know, I feel this could have been much more interesting as a standard graphic adventure, ie. something like Broken Sword or Shadow of the Comet. Not necessarily to be played with a mouse, the joypad would be ok too if they make it like Grim Fandango. But as it stands now, it’s an interesting experiment that I can’t really call successful because of the controls. Maybe, if they did a standard adventure but with the whole emotive thing, we would be in front of a better product.

    Perhaps this is just me jumping to conclusions, but I believe they only did their way because they wanted to give players something to press. Action games have more demand than graphical adventures… so they did something that would be able to make them say “intense action sequences!”.

    • Jaxx-Leviathan

      I think the R2-movement comes from the “problem” of the camera-viewpoint. It will follow behind the character in some scenes but there are a lot of scenes where it is static and so, if you were to move by pushing the right stick forward, the camera would change place at some point and you would inevitably walk a different way when that happens, as you keep pushing the stick. In this R2-movement you can accelerate and stop immediately and then direct to your new path. haven’t tried it so can’t say if it is effective in solving the camera problem, but I can see the idea behind it.

      • malek86

        Grim Fandango used a character-driven movement, not a camera-dirven one. So, if you press forward, your character goes forward depending on where it’s pointing, it doesn’t just “go north”. That way, regardless of the camera, you can never go wrong.

        • Jaxx-Leviathan

          Oh, well that does sound convenient. Not sure why they didn’t use that kind of control, guess they must have their reasons. But honestly I think it’s just a matter of getting used to it, can’t be so cumbersome it ruins the expirience hopefully?

          • malek86

            Not really, but in a game about “immersion”, having to wrestle the controls doesn’t help. When I was in the girl’s room with the detective, I remember at one point I was trying to go near the table, and I just couldn’t because the guy wouldn’t turn on the spot and I kept circling around it.

    • cowcow

      People in real life also dont run for long distances like their on speed in GTA. Or have their upper torsos twist unnaturally when they’re straffing gunfire (Call of Duty, MAG, any generic FPS)
      Especially if their you know….investigating. Which is what these characters are mostly doing.

  • Jaxx-Leviathan

    I’m the type to whom 80% of my interest goes to the story and as such, I am slowly falling in love with Heavy rain and the ideas behind it, even without having tried it yet. Looking very much forward to this, hope it grips me and provokes my feelings as much as it promotes it will.

  • thebanditking

    After playing the demo I was blown away. Not from a graphical standpoint either (though the graphics are very impressive). It was the story and controls that amazed me. If you look at the controls you would be hard pressed to find a game with a more confusing and taxing set up but yet when playing the game it all makes perfect sense. After a few minuets I did not even notice the controller or its crazy input commands anymore, and yet I felt connected to what I was doing. I must say if anything Heavy Rain proves that the controller (not motion/waggle) is the difinitive means for playing an interactive experience. As I would be hard pressed to think of a single time I felt more imerssed or in control of a game.

    • Aoshi00

      I pre-ordered it last year. But after playing the demo and finding out the Jpn ver would have dual audio, I canceled that and went to P-A (it was a hard choice because I don’t like the Jpn cover). The holding R2 to walk might fell Resident Evil clunky to some, but I have no qualm w/ the control since I liked Indigo Prophecy, and Heavy Rain seems to have an even better story w/o going into a weird direction, 2nd half of Indigo Prophecy just tripped out, reason I didn’t finish it.

      I love how they make the story continue too even if one of the main 4 char dies. I would at least play thru this game twice, once in Eng. and once in Jpn. I wonder when P-A would ship my copy, it was released in Jpn a week earlier and I pre-ordered it, now it’s on “back order”… this is like my 2nd most anticipated game after FF XIII, and I’m sure Heavy Rain wouldn’t disappoint me like XIII.

      “Shawn!!!”

  • Kris

    Can’t wait! I’ve got it preordered.

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