As you can clearly see by the review posted on ROH a few days ago, I’m a fan of Heavy Rain. A pretty big fan—so much so that when the Playstation Network went down last night, I held nothing but contempt over the stupid clock bug that caused the whole thing (you also couldn’t play many games with trophies enabled…that’s why I was so pissed). I’ve never played a game as unique and captivating as Quantic Dream’s latest psychological thriller.
And despite the fact that director David Cage might be a little disappointed, I’m still having a lot of fun playing it. So having perused websites bashing the title and asking WTF, I’ve come up with a nice little summary that responds to the criticisms of the game. Granted, a solid title doesn’t need a lot of defending, but…some of this stuff needs to be said.
Spoilers Inside and also swearing—you’ve been warned.
It’s All Quick Time Events
Your point being what? You’re too good for QTEs? It’s not ‘all’ QTEs. You can control where your character walks, what they look at, etc. But we’ve known that the game play would primarily consist of QTEs for how long now? Complaints that it’s just QTE are starting to get really fucking…stale. Like the arguments, the games industry needs a bit of variety.
The Characters and Story are Clichéd
Hmm. Good point—the characters do seem a bit two-dimensional. But let me give you a run-down of what video game characters we get to choose from when we pick up our favourite titles.
–Soldier/Marine or some variant thereof, including Space Marine, special forces police officer
–Generic Nintendo superhero—Italian plumber or green-clad hero
–Angry mortal imbued with superpowers
Sorry, ARI doesn’t count as a superpower. Not as if that fact would have helped my argument any further.
There might be some variants in those, but look at your average game that isn’t a racing game or a casual title. Pretty sure most of the characters fall into one of those categories. What’s not clichéd about that?
Were Heavy Rain, say a television show or big-budgeted film, I’d be a little pissed off at the lack of design in the characters—they are pretty stereotypical. But we’re talking about a video game here. The industry is pretty much built upon characters that do not have a whole lot of back-story or a lot of thought in them, no one really seems to have gotten up in arms that Mario doesn’t have his plumbing license. The game does explain a bit of the background of the four characters that you use, why they are the way they are.
For example, Ethan visits his psychologist’s office during the course of the game. In case you didn’t already know, he’s depressed about the death of his son and the distant nature of his other son, it explores this here. He was a successful guy, and now he’s living in a shitty part of town with a kid that can’t wait to go back and see his mother on the weekends.
Ethan Mars is a pretty developed character, moreso than any of the other characters in the game. Jayden, Shelby and Paige really take a second-seat to his story-line, even if they are a little more interesting.
A lot of people in HR really aren’t that inclined to talk to the cops. Stereotypical? No shit.
Hmm…I suppose that’s really a matter of opinion, much as is this entire piece. You might not have liked the story due to the fact that it might trigger emotions that you don’t have. I might be going out on a limb here, but would you find the game more compelling if you had children? If you lost someone you loved and would indeed give anything for them to come back? Look at it this way—I compared the story of Heavy Rain to that of Silent Hill 2. Both of them are very, very solid stories, but they both deal with something that many people are familiar with—loss, despair, desperation.
The main story of Heavy Rain follows Ethan as he deals with his desperation to find Shaun, and his loss over Jason. Jayden is searching for the killer, desperate to hide his Triptocaine addiction (which seriously fucks you up during withdrawals) from his peers at the police station (the cops in HR are a bunch of dolts—they really don’t do anything other than stand around, walking aimlessly around the police station or just looking at shit). Paige is just desperate for the story, even going so far as to sleep with Ethan (play your QTEs right) to get close to him. In Silent Hill 2, James is desperate to find out if his wife is alive in Silent Hill. He’ll go through hell or high water just to see her again, even though as the game goes on, it’s less and less likely that she’ll actually be at the end of the long tunnel that is Silent Hill.
Heavy Rain probably isn’t the most original story we’ve ever been told, it’s been done countless times in movies and on television, but not too often in video games—that’s what makes it unique. Ethan would be a real son of a bitch if he didn’t care that his kid was missing.
The Story is Full of Plot Holes
Yeah, there are some plot holes, but the story isn’t full of them. Sites like Games Radar have gone on record (i.e.: in an article) and stated that the story is chock full of plot holes. One of their fans in the comments section painstakingly pointed out that each and every point that they made wasn’t necessarily a plot hole, but they just didn’t grasp the answer to it. I like the guys at GR—they’re entertaining, but that fan had them pretty cornered. While I admit that there are some plot holes, there aren’t nearly as many as GR would have you believe, you can take a look at the story here.
This is where the spoilers really kick in by the way.
You’ve been warned!!! AGAIN!
–How exactly does Paige find out about the Origami Killer’s mother in the Geriatric Ward? Furthermore, why does it bother her like it does? It’s not as if the player were lead to believe that she ‘knows’ Shelby, or that they’ve worked together before, but the look on Paige’s face suggest otherwise. Earlier in the game we hear Paige talking to someone via telephone conversation, someone who’s feeding her information. Was this the case here? Not from that expression–Maybe this will be cleared up in the DLC? But for now, it’s just a plot hole.
–So…WTF in the antiques store? You were playing as Shelby—if you hold the L2 button, he states that his buddy has been in his office for a while now. When you go back into the office, the guy has had the back of his head crushed in by…what was that, a book? Get close to the end of the story and you find out that…you did it? WTF? Was my head turned at the time? Did Shelby and the player just kind of black out while committing all acts of homicide and dialing 9-11 only to take a return trip back into the office to see “Holy shit! Manfred is dead!” Wouldn’t Lauren get particularly suspicious about that? Probably not—she doesn’t seem like the exceptionally bright type.
Murder–all thanks to the books at your local library–err–antiques store
–I’m willing to believe that The Origami Killer made enough money during his time as a police officer to stash a bit of it away for his retirement. Where I live, most of the cops are pretty rich if they’re high-up on the totem pole, so it’s not completely unheard of, but the amount required for this kind of operations is a little on the obscene side. Perhaps, if the value of propery where……y’know what? Nevermind, it’s a plot hole.
–How exactly did the Origami Killer set up all of these elaborate trials? Was he working with someone? GR pointed out that the Butterfly Trial was a bit too risky for him to pull off by himself. No doubt, live electrical condensers wouldn’t necessarily be my kind of play toy either, even if I was a little on the deranged side. Same goes for a shit load of glass down a long tunnel which I probably wouldn’t be able to fit into—must have been working with someone. But who? Someone who was pretty fancy with technology no doubt. Shelby uses a typewriter and drives a car that’s probably older than he is–everything he owns is pretty much ancient.
Above: If Shelby didn’t have this, he’d have been caught long before Jayden and Paige got on the case.
–Shelby suffers from asthma—if you played the demo, he almost took a dive down the stairs at the…dive of a motel because of it. The rain apparently gives him trouble with his asthma—having known people who suffer, how exactly could he do all of these things while suffering from asthma attacks? The hill was pretty steep, Jayden had a rough time getting up it (and then back down, in my play throughs)—did Shelby just toss it over? Unlikely; the blood found at the scene was inconsistent with where the body was found. So are we to expect that Shelby, a guy who has a difficult time walking in a stuffy apartment, traversed that hill twice, fast enough to dump the body and not be caught, but with difficult asthma? It was raining or at least very humid at the time because a) it’s almost always that condition in Heavy Rain b) the tire impressions left at the road side were made in damp mud. I at first thought that the blood couldn’t have been the victim’s because dead people don’t bleed. But seeing as the bodies were in a vertical position when they died, and when rigor set in, it’s totally possible because of where the injury on the body was.
So what game isn’t full of plot-holes? Silent Hill 2, a game considered to have the best story EVAR has a few of them itself. For instance…why can’t Laura see any of the monsters that James sees? This is never explained in the story, you’re left to pretty much assume for yourself why she doesn’t see them. The entire Resident Evil series is plagued with plot holes, that doesn’t make these games any less awesome–just so long as they’re kept to a minimum.
Hmm…that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll state this right now though—if this article spoiled the game for you, don’t blame me—I already warned you that there were spoilers abound.