Movies and gaming has often been unnatural bedfellows, not quite gelling the way it feels like it should. Games becoming movies is still a tricky transition and movies which have game adaptations works rarely but every now and again, a videogame will come along which will manage to make the player feel like they are in control of the narrative, that they are controlling the story and the events rather than playing through a pre-planned set of moments or levels.
Heavy Rain is exactly that type of game. It is a game driven hugely by it’s narrative and even better, adapts depending on the decisions the player makes. The player is in control of the story, often driving the action forward or even stalling moments and changing their direction entirely.
The first key to Heavy Rain’s success is that it has a compelling story. It is concerned with a serial killer, named the Origami Killer for leaving trademark paper figurines near his kills, who is terrorising the parents of young boys across the city. The game is about finding out who this killer is, saving his next victim and ensuring that you do this while still keeping the characters you control alive.
That is the second clever element of Heavy Rain, you are in control of multiple characters. The same story is being played out across four different perspectives. All of them bring something new to the story and certainly don’t feel like carbon copies of each other. You have the private investigator who is searching for the killer to get justice for the families, the FBI agent searching for the killer and hoping to save the latest victim, the journalist drawn into the case and searching for a new story and best of all, the father of the latest victim, who finds himself caught in the tale much deeper than you’d first imagine.
To say any more would spoil elements and this game is best played completely fresh, new and without prior knowledge. The story is great though and you will want to keep playing as more is unearthed and you get closer to discovering who the killer is and trying to save the young boy at the centre of the tale.
It also helps that you can’t get “stuck” in Heavy Rain. You can make mistakes. You can find yourself at a disadvantage because of the decisions you’ve made or because you weren’t quick enough to press a button or react in a certain way but the story will progress regardless, affected by those mistakes or even purposeful decisions you’ve made.
The structure plays like a film too. It builds and builds, getting to an impressive and exciting climax. There are twists, turns and more than a few moments when you find yourself at the edge of your seat. There are interesting set-pieces and moments that would rival some Hollywood dramas.
Overall, Heavy Rain is a great game for movie fans. It has a narrative driven by the decisions of the player and a story which will carry-on regardless of ability. The characters are interesting and the story is one which you will want to finish and find a resolution to. If your a movie fan and a gamer, you could do a lot worse than pick up Heavy Rain.