An Entirely New Way of Playing a Game
This is the first review I've written in more than 2 years. I thought i was done with reviewing games, but a game like Heavy Rain comes along and changes my entire perspective on the ways games should be played and stories could be told. This game is a revelation.
First, I couldn't help but ponder for hours after I finished the game whether or not I had just experienced a work of art. I know that the "Videogames aren't art" controversy for a while now, but after playing through the entire game in one 9 and a half hour sitting, I can confidently say that Heavy Rain may be the the most beautiful game ever made, if not purely for artistic qualities. First lets supply some context for why I make such a claim.
1. The Graphics- Quantic Dream's first set of games were good. an enjoyable playing experience, somewhat marred by a clunky story and semi-decent graphics. However, it's clear from the very first scene that the graphics in this game are built entirely around realism. there were literally scenes in this game that I couldn't differentiate from actual video capture. I mean, of course there are moments where its painfully obvious that you're playing a videogame, like when Ethan's hand goes right through his head, or when you inadvertently walk directly through a person, but by and large this game is beautiful and breathtaking, fully immersing yourself in a rich and beautiful world
2. the Gameplay- One of my biggest fears going into this game was that the characters would just be unbelievable. that they would get stuck in that level thats above most movies but below most books, and definitely not real life. I have to hand it to Quantic dream, they did a bang-up job in creating characters that you not only wanted to root for, but that you could also suspect the entire game. (Don't worry, I'm not giving away anything). Honestly though, there were moments in the game where I thought that every person in the game had motive and possibility of being the origami killer. Combining that with a deep respect and care for the characters is near impossible to do, and I loved every minute of it coming together.
3. The Story- I'm a sucker for books. I probably read a novel every three weeks. I love how a story comes together with rich and inviting characters. Thats one of the reasons Bioshock is still ranked as one of my favorite games of all times. It had an immersive world, you cared about what happens to the main protagonist, and at the end you feel satisfied and complete. Thats exactly what heavy rain gives you. Granted, you may get a very less complete ending that you normally would if you decide to kill off a character early on, and things can end up downright shitty, but thats the lure of the game. Its amazing to see how many endings there are to this game. How one single decision effects so much. Immediately after finishing my 9 hour marathon, my first instinct was to go back and play it entirely different, just to see how it all ends up. Making someone want to pull another 9 hour marathon run after just finishing one is a winner in my book.
Of course every game has its detractions. first and foremost, this is not a kids game. the entire subject matter is way to intense for younger people. the choices that you have to make aren't anything that I would want anyone under the age of at least 16 making. Also, theres blatant nudity in certain sections of the game. I felt like it kind of detracted from the game's overall experience a bit. I realize that they were trying to go for the "You can control them doing everything!!! Even Showering!!!" but it kind of felt like they wanted to throw in boobs for the sake of throwing in boobs. Not as artful as the rest of the game built around it.
So yeah, Good game. its something that you'll enjoy from beginning to end and its something that you'll remember for a long while. I wouldn't be surprised if this goes into the world of videogame lore, along with the companion cube Donkey Kong 64. While it may have minor detractions (Like the kids voices. Were they raised in a home with a father from england, mother from America, and Nanny from Scotland?), it shouldn't stop you from jumping into this extremely entertaining and enthralling game. Heavy Rain gets Heavy Praise.