Spoiler Free - This review does not cover plot points or story arcs in depth.
Since the release of the Playstation 4 there seem to be an abundance of HD remasters; Uncharted, Tomb Raider and the Last of Us to name a couple of the wider known games. While I am a fan of these games, it always takes me a lot longer to decide whether or not I should repurchase the game. It’s not like the story has changed, and sure I want to enjoy the TressFX they added to Lara Croft but do I really want to pay the current Generation price tag for ‘spiffy’ graphics and some DLC I probably already paid for? The answer…no not really. Which is why I have the tendency to wait until the game plummets in price before picking it up (Uncharted being the exception – don’t judge me).
Before long, Quantic Dream announced a HD remaster of their two major games; Beyond Two Souls and Heavy Rain. Originally released on PS3, these were two games I had vaguely heard of but never really got around to picking up. In all honesty I was sold after skimming through the synopsis of Beyond Two Souls and the fact that the HD remaster was released before Heavy Rain’s meant I could truly grasp Quantic Dreams method of storytelling before Heavy Rain was released. (I’ll admit the promise of a discount on Heavy Rain if you bought Beyond Two Souls was also a main selling point).
I played Beyond Two Souls back in November and was blown away by the sheer beauty of the game and the outstanding way the story was told with its two protagonists and use of abnormal chronology. Needless to say Beyond Two Souls built up my expectations for Heavy Rain so the moment it was available I downloaded it (at a lovely reduced rate) and spent as many of my free evenings as I can (between Division sessions) slowly getting through the story.
So, albeit it a little late, here’s a rather informal review of the Heavy Rain HD Remaster.
Initially released in 2010 for the PS3, Heavy Rain follows four unique protagonists; Ethan Mars, Madison Paige, Scott Shelby, Norman Jayden. Each have involvement with the mystery of the Origami Killer, a serial killer who uses extended periods of rain fall to drown young boys before abandoning the body somewhere with an Origami figure on the body.
Having not played the original, I am not in the best position to compare the graphics, however you can tell where the game just simply hasn’t aged well. Parts of the game, like the loading screens and many of the cut scenes look absolutely phenomenal, while others just look blocky and blurred which somewhat ruins the effect. However, I appreciate it is an older game and that this may have had something to do with it, and all in all it doesn’t distract from the effect the story line has anyway, it’s just a small irritant.
The shift between the four characters works perfectly. Allowing each individual part of their story to slot into along side the other protagonists piece by piece before leading to the ending. The characters are all likeable as well (although Ethan did grind my gears initially) and with the option to choose dialogue, actions and reactions you can really tailor a character how you want. For instance, you can make Jayden a stickler for the rules or rougher around the edges, while Ethan can be selfish to the point of cowardice or selfless to the point of stupidity. The choices the game presents you with are enough to send you into a spin, getting you sitting there pondering every possible outcome, especially with the knowledge that main or even side characters can be killed as a result.
The trophy system appears to work on a decision/outcome basis, meaning whenever you see a trophy pop up you are filled with dread hoping the choice you’ve made is the right one, or after reading the trophy finding there was a better outcome than what you picked.
The story itself is thoroughly engaging and will have you guessing all the way through. Controls are can be simplified for those just wishing to enjoy the story or made more complicated (for those of you who are a fan of playing twister with your fingers). Quick time events are abundant, but they work well with the fight and action scenes as well as keeping you on your toes by changing the buttons you’ll need to press, with consequences if you miss it. Alongside the QTE’s and analog stick movements, the game also utilises motion controls. However I found a number of these to be frustrating and somewhat unresponsive; such as having to tilt the dual shock to the left and right slowly.
All in all, the controls do a good job of relating to the symbols on screen and the subsequent action performed (Pushing up to open a door for instance). However there was an occasion or two where I misinterpreted the vague symbol on the screen to mean a different action, which would be fine if it meant you opened a window instead of looking out of it. When this causes you to accidentally advance through the story with a decision you’d rather not have made however, it’s rather soul destroying, especially if the accidental decision means someone dies….so be wary of that!
The dialogue choices do a great job of keeping you immersed in the game, with the font becoming animated to reflect the character’s mood and emotion in tense situations, while the ability to listen to the character’s thoughts at certain moments of the game just gives that level of reality while you listen to the character decipher the pros and cons of each decision they are faced with.
Having originally avoided Heavy Rain under the presumption it was some sort of horror game I am glad I took the time to look into it further and ultimately play it. Looking back this has been one of the most engaging and thought-provoking mystery games I have played in a long time. If you are contemplating picking it up I would highly recommend it or even upgrading and getting the collection. Both games are fantastically written interactive dramas that do not hold back when they say;
Your every move matters
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