Heavy Rain PS4 Review - The Promised Land

For some twisted, unknown reason, I had not played Heavy Rain. Originally released in 2010, it quickly became one of the most acclaimed PlayStation 3 exclusives ever. And while people kept telling me I would love it, it simply went over my head. By the time I realized it was a must-play, the PS4 was finally out. I decided to put my hands together and pray that a current generation version was released. At last, after numerous delays, the game has been released. Having played it multiple times, I have to tell you: people weren't lying. This was a marvelous experience in 2010, and it's still a marvelous experience in 2016.

So, what is Heavy Rain all about? Well, it's an action-adventure, psychological thriller. In it, you play as four different characters: Ethan, a father looking for his missing son, FBI Agent Norman Jayden, Detective Scott Shelby, and photographer Madison Paige. Their paths end up entwining as they desperately seek the Origami Killer, a serial killer known for drowning young children.

Now, I want to start with the visuals. Going in, I didn't know what to expect. After all, the game is more than five years old. I was considerably worried that the graphics were going to pull me out of the experience. Luckily, I'm happy to report that Heavy Rain still looks quite sharp. Being completely honest, it doesn't look nearly as stunning as some of the newer exclusives (Infamous, Uncharted), and some elements like the lightning system or the rare poor texture let you know that the game wasn't made this year. However, it absolutely nails the essentials. What do I mean by that? First off, performance. The game runs super smoothly, and resolution has been increased. But most importantly, characters look great! Sony usually nails this with all their exclusives. The face models are so impressive. Full of scars, tiny details and imperfections that make them seem real. And because they seem real, you can tell how a character is feeling by looking at their expressions. Overall, it looks better than expected.

Moving on, let's talk about gameplay. In a lot of ways, it seems like Heavy Rain inspired some of the more recent action-adventure games out there (Telltale games, Until Dawn). While playing the game, you move around interacting with objects, completing Quick Time Event sequences, and making potentially plot altering choices. And while there are some weird control nuances (like having to hold the R2 button in order to move with the left stick), I was more satisfied with this type of gameplay. Thing is, Heavy Rain does a fantastic job at making all these elements feel like their stakes are much higher. Forgetting to interact with a specific object can lead to a different scene. Missing a QTE sequence could result in a main character dying (at any point of the game). And the decisions you make while playing the game will lead you to one of 22 different endings. For all those reasons, my experience with this game was much more intense. My palms were constantly sweating and my heartbeat was racing faster and faster. I loved it!

Although the visuals and gameplay of Heavy Rain are awesome, the nail-biting plot is absolutely the star of the show. In 2016, it almost an insult to say that a video game's story is at the movie level. Because in all honesty, games like The Last of Us and Bioshock: Infinite have proved that an amazing video game story is in a league of its own. But back in 2010, that wasn't really the case. And that's why I was shocked by Heavy Rain's plot. This game doesn't hold back: it deals with topics like death, depression, sickness and fear. All of them are talked about in an interesting, intimate fashion. It's fantastic!

At its core, I believe Heavy Rain's plot is made so much better by two particular things: the attention to small things and the character depth. By "attention to small things", I'm referring to the fact that for long periods of time, you will be doing smaller activities that seem insignificant when compared to the main plot. Taking your kid to the park, making some scrambled eggs, healing a wound. It all helps. You connect with the characters while building anticipation for the eventual climax. The game starts fairly slow. Nothing too big happens during the first hour and a half. But once the action kicks in, you get about 10 hours of thrilling, insane storytelling. It hooks you in, and doesn't let go.

And as far as character depth, developer Quantic Dream created some one of the most versatile, complete casts I've seen in a long time. All four characters are flawed. They all suffer from various conditions and illnesses. Therefore, they're extremely likable. The game constantly drops different pieces of trivia about each character, in a very subtle way. It can be a life altering detail like the death of a loved one, or a minor touch like the asthma attacks one of the characters suffers from. All these attributes help you develop a bond with them. Heavy Rain easily accomplishes an important objective most current games still can't reach: I actually care. This cast is not part of a video game. They're real people;and you care about them. You want them to succeed. Add the fact that they can all die at any point, and you get an emotional rollercoaster you won't forget for a long time.

As far as negatives, I only have one: voice acting. For the most part, voice acting is solid. A couple of them are exceptional. However, some of them are also terrible. The bad performances are provided by some of the kids and even Ethan at certain times. Their delivery can feel forced and artificial. At a point, I could literally picture the kid at a booth, recording his lines with a monotonous, dead tone. It rarely pulled me from the experience. But when it did, it was definitively noticeable.

Verdict: Heavy Rain is everything it promised to be;and then some. The fascinating story, complex characters and severe QTE sequences had me on the edge of my seat during my entire playthrough. Those who have played the game might want to revisit it (game's only $30 on PSN). For those who haven't played Heavy Rain, stop reading this review and go buy it. You won't regret it.

The Good
- Magnificent Story
- Solid Visuals
- Intense QTE Sequences
- Character Depth

The Bad
- Voice Acting Inconsistencies

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