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Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain is an interactive drama action-adventure video game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for the PlayStation 3 in 2010.

The game is a film noir thriller, featuring four diverse protagonists involved with the mystery of the Origami Killer, a serial killer who uses extended periods of rainfall to drown his victims. The player interacts with the game by performing actions highlighted on screen related to motions on the controller, and in some cases, performing a series of quick time events during fast-paced action sequences. The player's decisions and actions during the game will affect the narrative. The main characters can be killed, and certain actions may lead to different scenes and endings.

Heavy Rain was a critical and commercial success, winning multiple Game of the Year awards and selling over two million copies. A live-action film adaptation of the game is currently in development.

Heavy Rain Plot

The game's prologue opens with Ethan Mars, spending time with his family on his son, Jason's 10th birthday. While at a busy mall, Jason wanders off and Ethan frantically searches for him, soon finding him outside on the street. Jason runs back to Ethan, unexpectedly into the path of an oncoming car. Ethan jumps out, trying to save Jason. However, the car crashes into Jason, killing him, while Ethan himself is injured and falls into a coma for six months. Two years after the accident, Ethan is suffering from depression, agoraphobia, and blackouts that last for several hours. He is estranged from his wife, and his remaining son, Shaun, is distant with him. While at a park with Shaun, Ethan has another blackout, and wakes to find Shaun missing.

Shaun's disappearance is soon tied to the serial murders of the 'Origami Killer'. The criminal's modus operandi is to abduct a young boy during the rainy fall season, after which their bodies are found several days later in a remote location, drowning being the cause of death, along with an origami animal figure in their hands, and an orchid on their chest. FBI profiler Norman Jayden, having come to assist the police with the Origami Killer, concludes that the child is locked in a location where, after 6 inches of rainfall, their bodies will be completely submerged and they will die from drowning. They realise that they have less than three days to find Shaun.

Ethan retreats to a motel to avoid the media. He receives a letter that directs him to a locker, and finds a shoebox containing a mobile phone, a handgun, and five origami figures. The phone instructs him to complete a set of trials written on each origami figure to display the lengths he is prepared to go to in order to save Shaun, after which he will receive pieces of a street address. The trials present increasing risk as they proceed, from driving against traffic for five miles at a high speed, subjecting himself to physical pain and electrocution, cutting off part of his finger, killing a man, and drinking poison. As he attempts these trials, he meets Madison Paige, a woman who suffers from chronic insomnia, who helps him to recover physically and emotionally from the trials. Madison begins her own investigation into who may have arranged the trials.

Jayden, working with Lieutenant Carter Blake, investigates two suspects, but comes up empty-handed. Ethan's ex-wife visits the police and informs them of Ethan's blackouts, which lead them to Ethan's psychiatrist. Blake is sure that Ethan is the Origami Killer, while Jayden continues to follow the trail of evidence to confirm otherwise. During these events, private investigator Scott Shelby begins visiting several of the victims' parents for information, and obtains several items that relate to the Origami Killer. One parent, Lauren Winter, insists on helping him, seeking closure on the matter. They are led astray by a wealthy playboy claiming to be the Killer, and are threatened off the case by his adversarial father.

Heavy Rain was critically acclaimed. The UK Official PlayStation Magazine reviewer Tim Clark wrote, "I'm convinced it's one of the freshest, most exciting, and even important games on PS3 so far." Clark praised the effective controls of the game, as well as the pacing of the story, which the reviewer described as key, and perfectly designed to create an "exhausting, exhilarating, and, crucially, involving" experience. He concluded by saying that, "Certainly there's nothing quite like it on PS3, or indeed any other system. Put gaming conventions aside, go in with no expectations other than this is something new and massively good-looking, and you'll be rewarded with a unique experience that lurches between genius and madness, manages to be genuinely emotional, and that you'll be bursting to talk about with your friends." GamesMaster complimented Heavy Rain for being "incredibly original and compelling," as "the atmosphere is incredible – full of driving rain (which becomes central to the plot), fizzing neon lights, dank apartments and warehouses. It's a dark noir game, not a bright adventure." The game was given a GamesMaster Gold Award. IGN's Chris Roper praised the game's "fantastic story that's one of the best in gaming." However, he pointed out that the game's beginning is very slow, and might turn off some players. GameZone's Michael Lafferty wrote, "There are some flaws, but taken as a package, Heavy Rain is a remarkable achievement in gaming that creates an interactive experience that goes beyond the pages of a good novel or film noir. This is a game that needs to be experienced." Winda Benedetti wrote about the maturity of Heavy Rain as well as Remedy Entertainment's psychological action thriller Alan Wake for MSNBC, praising both titles for being "emotionally powerful" as well as having "said goodbye to the tired alien invasions and over-the-top fantasy stories so often found in video games. Instead, they peer into the dark reaches of the very real human heart to deliver stories that are thrilling, chilling and utterly absorbing."

Interactive fiction writer Emily Short was generally pleased with the experimental gameplay of Heavy Rain, but found the game's story to be full of "stock bits" borrowed from films, leaving inconsistent characterisation and gaps and poor pacing in its plot. She cited the disconnection between the motivation of the specific character and the motivation of the game's player, such as when Ethan is challenged to navigate a maze of wires charged with electricity; Ethan the character is guided to finish it regardless of ability, but the player is given the option to abandon the challenge if they cannot do it. She also considered that the characterisation does not follow the game's claim of how choices matter, pointing out that the reveal of the identity of the Origami Killer was a "betrayal" of the way she had played the game to that point. Ian Bogost, a video game designer and Assistant Professor of Literature Communication and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, counters claims that Heavy Rain qualifies as an "interactive film". Bogost notes that "film is editing", in that filmmakers put together images and scenes in a compilation to evoke certain feelings and emotions, and to convey story and plot in a limited amount of time. While Heavy Rain strives for this, it retains elements of a video game, and Bogost considers the game to have a "rejection of editing in favor of prolonging"; examples given are the need to have the player provide interaction for most of the characters' motion, or having to control and watch Ethan throughout his search for Jason at the crowded mall. Bogost opined that this "prolonging" may actually be beneficial to the video game medium, as several scenes from the game's third chapter, during which Ethan runs through a routine schedule of homework, dinner, and bedtime for Shaun, allow for periods where the game waits for the player to interact with it; during these periods, simply by using mise en scène images of the house and characters, invite the player to think about what the characters are experiencing, "to linger on the mundane instead of cutting to the consequential". In 2010, the game was included in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.

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