Games to Play Before You Die: Heavy Rain

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Our Walk Through the Gaming Bucket List Starts with a Quantic Dream Masterpiece

 

Being in my position, I often get the opportunity to make suggestions about games people might enjoy playing. With my friends, I’m always careful to tailor these suggestions to things I expect people will like.

I’m not going to ask my boyfriend to play Mortal Kombat, for instance – he’s a Minecraft kind of guy. Every so often, however, a game comes along where I simply need to sing its praises and get everyone I know to have a turn.

 Heavy Rain is one such game. A breakout PS3 title, it’s only just turned five years old. It was one of the first games I bought when I finally got a PS3 and it sat on my shelf for some time. With such a dry opening chapter and relying largely on interactive drama, Heavy Rain wasn’t something I was expecting to have such a tremendous impact on me.

But I played through and have since annoyed all my friends by forcing them to experience the same adventure.

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Interactive Drama Needs a Powerful Story and Heavy Rain Delivers

When your entire game is trying to tell a convincing story, you need the plot to be both compelling and driven. I can’t simply skip through cutscenes to play the action sequences like I can with other games so if there is a moment where someone falls off the Heavy Rain wagon, they’re gone.

Hence why getting over the slow initial proceedings of the game is such a challenge. Once the plot starts to get into gear, the game is almost impossible to put down. Many a day was I at university, tired, because I couldn’t stop playing Heavy Rain.

Its story is salient for a number of reasons. Grounded in the gritty noir realism of the surrounding world, the stories of the four characters are fleshed out and very easily enrapture players.

I remember when two of my more macho friends were watching another friend play. In typical blase fashion, they were making crude jokes and whatnot but when the tension spiked and ‘The Chase’ started playing, they too were shouting advice.

 

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A Musical Score to Match

There’s nothing else I can say except that Heavy Rain‘s score is triumphant. It is everything it needs to be: bombastic, poignant, and emotive when it needs to be. Sadly the composer, Normand Corbeil, passed during the production of Quantic Dream’s next title, Beyond: Two Souls.

His work was astounding and a few tracks stand out amongst the rest. Painful MemoriesThe Chase; and Ethan Mars’ theme, to name a few. It’s a tragedy that we will not be able to hear his work in future titles.

Personally, I cannot fault the soundtrack for this game. Without it, I’m certain the story, while interesting, would not have been told in such an enamouring, vivid way. It perfectly embodies the tension, the despair, and every up and down of the characters’ roles within the plot. For all the things Heavy Rain gets right, the music is the best of them all.

 

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Something to Share

Another of my favourite things about Heavy Rain is that each person’s experience with the game is unique. Anyone who has heard me talk about horror games knows that the reason I love them is that we all feel them and that shapes our play through of the game in their own individual way.

Heavy Rain might not share the scares but its visceral approach to tension and storytelling put it in the same vein.

I know that on many occasions, what happened to each character and how we approached certain scenes was a talking point amongst friends. Heavy Rain is a game that we can share, even though not in the traditional sense. To this end, its reliance on quick time events is a good move.

I’m not going to pretend it didn’t get tedious after a while but it at least made the game more accessible to those who maybe enjoyed a good story and weren’t avid gamers (yet). Interactive drama is a good medium for people to whet their appetites for games.

In the end I don’t want to sit here and say Heavy Rain is faultless. It can be a bit slow at times and if your characters die, you can find yourself missing out on important information, leaving the game a little dry.

Interactive drama isn’t going to be for everyone, obviously. But I’m finding more and more people are asking me what are my favourite games or what games should they play. My response almost always references Heavy Rain in some way or another. The reason is that the game is simply fantastic. If you can’t stomach horror enough to learn how games can affect us in a very real way, Heavy Rain is an amazing substitute and tells a story you won’t forget.

Do you have any games that you just have to get people to play? What are your games to play before you die?

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