The masterpiece from 2010 developed by Quantic Dream is back and better than ever, with a bunch of improvements and ready to be played in our next gen console. Are you ready to enjoy the mystery of the Origami Killer in Heavy Rain again?
Review: Heavy Rain
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 (tested)
The masterpiece from David Cage is now ready for your PlayStation 4 as an HD remaster. It is important to get that out of the way quickly, because it has an important implication. The game looks great, but is not of the same visual standard of a game built natively for the console. It has been improved, not redone.
With that being said, you don’t really need next gen graphics to enjoy the mystery of the Origami Killer. The beauty of the award-winning game are the narrative and gameplay, how it gets you to interact with the mundane and the story it has to tell. It replaces big fancy effects with the intense feeling of loss, the mental anguish the leading character lives with after losing his son to tragedy and all the main characters deep and dark secrets.
Ethan Mars is an architect and our protagonist. The game opens up with him spending time with his family for his son Jason’s 10th birthday. While at a busy mall, Jason wanders off and after a frantic search, Ethan finds him outside on the street. This is the moment the tragedy occurs and where everything goes dark. Jason is killed and Ethan himself, trying to protect his son, is injured and falls into a coma for six months. He later develops a severe depression, agoraphobia, and blackouts. If you think this is horrible for a game to happen in the first 15 minutes, then I have bad news for you. It gets worse. He gets divorced, and the relationship with his other Shaun is bad. But we don’t get to see much of it since he is kidnapped in the park, and this is instantly attributed to the Origami Killer, a serial killer who has a thing for kidnapping young boys from public places, drowning them with rainwater and then dumping their bodies near to rail-tracks.
This alone would be enough for a really good story, but the PlayStation exclusive title goes beyond this. With a fantastic storytelling gameplay, Ethan is now forced to play Saw-like games for a hope of rescuing his boy. There are other apparently unconnected but equally flawed and unhinged characters that we will play as: an ex-cop, softly spoken and asthmatic private investigator, an FBI agent with a severe case of the shakes and a woman who struggles to sleep. Very few games can balance the development of multiple main characters, but Quantic Dreams will surprise you. And yes, as you can expect, there are plenty of elements that give room for twists and turns to keep things interesting.
All the good narrative is enhanced by a stellar performance. The voice actors are very, very high standard, and they give a really good job at shaking you with an emotional depth. All you have to do is to remain focused, and Heavy Rain is a quality and hours long ride that will keep you asking a simple question. How far will you go to save someone you love?
Something I really liked about Heavy Rain is that everything you do and how you do it will have some effect on the flow of the story. It won’t be immediately obvious, but that just adds to the magic. Does it have any impact if I follow that track? If I go outside to take some air? What if I pick pizza instead of some veggies? And some minutes after, you get to decide if you should kill someone you don’t even know. Heavy Rain seamlessly mixes the mundane with life and death choices. It offers something totally unique, and can go from snail pace to violent action without any warning. Its immersive narrative and compelling character will stay with you long after the final credits.
Unfortunately, there are some issues that can take you out of the immersion in a blink. I was really disappointed with the occasional but not less obvious lip-syncing issues being out-of-sync with the audio, or even the total loss of sound during key scenes. Crowd animations still look sloppy too with characters clumsily walking into each other in a robotic and stiff manner, and even some more notorious glitches like having bodies just disappearing in the middle of a fight during the finale. These issues are not frequent, but they are there and have a special impact in an interactive drama.
Heavy Rain delivers a morbid storyline, impressive cinematography and unique gameplay. It is as good as it was when first released, and a must play for fans of the genre.