When it comes to consoles, I’m more of an Xbox guy. There’s nothing fanboy about my preference, it’s just the system I’ve fallen into playing more. Every so often, I’ll play a Wii game with my kids, but most of time is spent on the Xbox – it just has more of the games I like. But I still cross lines to play exclusive PS3 games — Little Big Planet was great, as were the Uncharted games.
I started looking at PS3 games recently, in anticipation of God of War 3 coming out and I read some early reviews for a game that sounded really intriguing, Heavy Rain. The game is billed as a psychological thriller and tells the story of a city held in fear as a monster called the Origami Killer kidnaps and kills the city’s children. You are tasked with tracking down the killer’s identity. The reviews gave Hard Rain pretty high marks, so I figured I’d give it a try.
The game immediately immerses you in one of four playable characters and allows you explore your environment. There’s essentially zero learning time because, throughout the course of the game, the controls for any action your character needs to make are presented on screen. At first, this idea might seem intrusive, but because of the cinematic presentation of the choices, it’s not. The controls have a translucent quality about them and – at times – melt into the background. But what’s really unique about Heavy Rain is that the choices you make influence not just the storyline that the game follows, but the ending, as well. The result is a game that can be played through to twenty-two completely different endings, making this game the PS3 version of the Choose Your Own Adventure books.
Before you run down to your local game shop, be warned: this is not a game for kids. Yes, there is profanity, violence, adult situations and nudity. But the game also deals with very mature themes and decisions you are forced to make. Your morals will be tested time and time again and the choices you make affect these very real – both looking and acting – characters. It’s like a really good mystery novel that you’ve been allowed to participate in.
Without getting into any spoilers, one of the characters you play is Ethan, who is a dad. Ethan has to make some decisions affecting his family and some of them are tough ones. Unlike playing the part of an Italian plumber or a faceless special forces commando, this character hits a little close to home, making you think about your own kids and your own family.
Last week, I was about halfway through my first run-through of the game, when I saw a post about Heavy Rain over at Penny Arcade. Gabe said “If you’re a parent, (especially a Dad) this game can be pretty difficult to play at times … What I do know is that after a late night playing it, I sneak into my son’s room and hug him before I go to bed. I think Heavy Rain is probably one of the most important games ever made. Maybe not one of the best, but definitely important.”
Heavy Rain is a game that is enjoyable and compelling and with so many endings, it has a high level of replayability. If you’re a dad and you have access to a PS3, check it out.
WIRED: One of the most immersive game experiences in recent memory. Fantastic looking characters & environments.
TIRED: Some annoying bugs, including save freezes, audio hiccups and awkward camera angles.
Heavy Rain, Sony Playstation 3, $54.99