Heavy Rain (PS3) – Immersion Can’t Get Better Than This!

How far are you prepared to go to save someone you love? – from the theme of “Heavy Rain”

It is hard to define the genre of this critically acclaimed title “Heavy Rain”.  It is not exactly an action game, though there are some elements of action.  It is not exactly an adventure game either, though it plays like one at times.  Certainly feel like watching a self-directed movie with full fledged orchestra soundtrack – a movie of a serial killer to catch and a kid to save.  172 days of casting, 90 actors selected from 457 auditions.  You get to switch between different key players according to the key story events.  And because you as a player get to decide your course of action and to participate in the action, the story unfolds based on the decisions  and the mistakes you have made.  Believe me, if you are not an expert in using the game controller or if you are like me who tend to press the wrong buttons or move the motion sensitive controller to the wrong direction when you get nervous, you bound to make mistakes.  Making too many mistakes may lead to an alternative storyline.  Continue to make too many mistakes may lead to a character’s death.  I have learned my lesson the hard way.  I thought I could sit back on my sofa and relax, I was grossly wrong.  And because it is one continuous play-through, you have got to live with your mistakes, for better or for worse.

The characters on the screen reacts to the sequence of buttons you press as guided by the game.  Some motions also take into consideration of how fast or slow you move the game sticks or shake the controller in certain directions.  Some scenes require you to press and hold a set of buttons in a sequential order.  How tricky the combination is depends on the situation.  For timed event, you really do not want to make too many mistakes.

“Heavy Rain” runs in 720p graphic quality.  Although it seems inferior compares to 1080p games such as Final Fantasy XIII, it is by and large acceptable.  The motion sequences are realistic (due to filming using real stunt men).  My only complain is the rendering of characters.  The real actors behind the scene look so much better (I thought it should be the other way round).  The interaction between characters – like the kissing scene with the mouths not exactly locked together – has much to desire for.  Still, consider the complicity of the game based on player’s interaction and the sum of all possible paths, the game play has made up for some of these flaws.

My first play-through does not take long to complete.  Such is the characteristic of a non-linear game.  For one play-through, I have probably only seen a quarter of what the game is.  I will need to replay this game multiple times if I wish to explore different storyline, different endings.  Bonus materials are unlocked based on game progress, such as the making-of videos that are entertaining to watch.  Believe it or not, being able to play this exclusive title is one of the major reasons why I bought a Sony PS 3.  And I am very much satisfied.  I will for sure play it again but not right now.  For such a dark game (and the constant rain) – the mood, the suspense, and the sorrow, it can get a bit depressing.  Such is the beauty of immersion.

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