How far will you go to save someone you love? That’s the question that Heavy Rain, the interactive drama from Quantic Dream and one half of a new collection of remasters asks. Or at least, that’s its biggest, most pervasive question. In its newly available remastered form, it asks a few more – like “Man, didn’t this look and feel so much better 6 years ago?”
When it was unleashed on audiences midway through the PlayStation 3’s life, it was a visual and aural fest, a rich and sumptuous experience that promised a new way of telling stories in videogames. In an age where just about everything was yet another first person shooter, it genuinely felt fresh and original.
It was ambitious, trying its very best to evoke genuine emotion through its storytelling; something we didn’t get very much. It successfully blurred the line between film and games, and opened the doors for more games that dispensed with heavy action in favour of putting forth a narrative. It may have really just been cut-scenes blended with quick-time events, but it was one of my very favourite games in its release year. You can read our original review of it here.
The story’s just as cliché-ridden and full of holes as it’s ever been if you take the time to scratch away beneath its surface; many of the character’s motivations are never really made all that clear, there are a number of frankly implausible scenarios and the writing can (and often does) veer off in to the distinctly cheesy. Despite that it’s still worth playing – and that’s largely down to something approaching genuine character development (at least for some of its leads), and the way that it taps in to your own experiences and expectations.
As you play through the interwoven narratives of its four playable characters (A distraught father, FBI investigator, a gumshoe and a lady who struggles to sleep), the dialogue options, character movements and its inexorable progress make it emotionally effecting, even if it is a little hammy. It’s not about shooting your way through to its conclusion, or using your puzzle-solving skills to clever your way to the end, but rather about interaction. It’s about doing mundane things like brushing your teeth, taking a morning piss or changing a baby’s nappy to create a sense of connection and empathy, and it still does that to great effect.