Gamers have strong opinions on French game maker David Cage, but his film noir game Heavy Rain is undoubtbly his best, offering an engaging narrative about the lengths that a father, Ethan Mars, will go to find a kidnapped son.
The game first appeared on the PlayStation 3 and while the narrative was what made it worth playing, the 2010 game was hampered by poor voice acting, a boat load of quick time events and walking controls that frustrated more than delighted.
In Heavy Rain, the player controls, at various points, the four main characters (Ethan, Paige, FBI agent Norman Jayden and PI Scott Shelby) whose paths cross after Ethan’s son is kidnapped by The Origami Killer, a child abductor who leaves origami figures at the scene of the crime and always appears when the city is in the midst of persistent torrential rain. It’s a bleak, depressing setting, which adds to the game’s dark narrative.
Heavy Rain has now been remastered for the PS4 (the major upgrade seems to be the resolution has jumped from 720p to 1080p) and while graphically the game looks brighter and sharper than the original, none of its major faults have been fixed, which is a real shame. I didn’t experience any graphical glitches in the remaster but quite often the audio would cut in an out and when a character did an internal monologue it sounded as if they were standing in a tunnel.
The quick time events in Heavy Rain are plentiful – often requiring dexterity to press a trigger and two face buttons at the same time – and combat is often a flurry of button presses and stick movement: from time to time I missed a prompt because it disappeared so quickly.
A lot of the QTEs are mundane, too – changing a baby’s nappy, taking a morning toilet stop, opening car doors or a fridge – but it’s Cage’s attempt to get players to a connection to the characters, and I think, for the most part, it works: It’s just a pity that other aspects of the game just don’t stand up in 2016’s gaming landscape.
The voice acting is decidedly average, though, especially from the children (they sound stilted and wooden), although a couple of the main character voice actors do a decent job in making their characters more believable despite some of the cringeworthy and cliche-riddled dialogue.
Sadly, the frustrating movement controls are still here, too, requiring you to press R2 and the left analogue stick to navigate whatever character you’re controlling around the environment. Add in a camera that frustrates things as well, and it’s not uncommon to find a character smacking into a wall rather than going through a door or spinning around a table because the controls are so sloppy (and don’t get me started on the bloody frustrating “Guide Ethan through a glass-littered tunnel” sequence where the controls continually frustrate)
Despite the wonky controls and wooden voice acting, the Remastered Heavy Rain is still worth a look if you haven’t played the original but if you have played it before, I wouldn’t recommend forking out the money a second time: There isn’t enough to warrant it.
While the narrative is still engaging, it should come as no surprise that Heavy Rain no longer has the impact it did when it first came out and, sadly, it hasn’t aged well. I wonder whether it really needed a remaster at all …
Note: Heavy Rain Remastered has been bundled with another remastered David Cage game, Beyond Two Souls, which I didn’t like nearly as much as Heavy Rain.