The Origami Killer has never looked sharper…
Heavy Rain was a game that split opinion right down the middle upon its original release. Quantic Dream have remastered the game for the PS4, with some new visual effects and sharper textures, but the ultimate question is “is it still good?” Well, yes and no.
I’m not going to call this a “review” in the typical sense, because the game is, essentially, 6 years old. Either you’ve heard of Heavy Rain and you know exactly where you stand on this Marmite game, or you’ve got absolutely no idea what it is and are contemplating picking it up. Well, it’s a tough one to describe.
For all intents and purposes, Heavy Rain is an “interactive drama”. Focusing on a number of different characters, it plays out over a relatively short period of time, and concentrates on the story of Shaun, a boy who’s been kidnapped by the notorious “Origami Killer”, a serial killer intent on drowning young boys. Shaun’s father, Ethan, is plagued by guilt having seen his other son (spoilers!) killed in a incident which plays out in the game’s prologue. It’s a grim tale, and one that sees you quick time event-ing your way through in some increasingly complex ways, and navigating plot holes so big that your local council would be ashamed of along the way.
Truth be told, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the updates offered by Heavy Rain’s PS4 outing, at least initially. It definitely suffers from the effect most remasters have where you think “But this is how it looked before!” until you go back and play the original. Heavy Rain’s updates, while subtle, are definitely noticeable when you go back to the PS3 version and compare. First up, the native resolution of the game has been bumped to a lovely 1080p. It benefits the main character models in a huge way, with each of the 4 playable protagonists and their closest companions edging their way unnervingly down the uncanny valley. Whilst this helps some of the more detailed characters, some of the other supporting cast look distinctly average, and the vehicles are definitely showing their age. There was a point during the aforementioned prologue when a vehicle arrived and it was laughably bad, and it’s in these areas where Heavy Rain’s latest edition starts to crumble around the edges a little.
Once a shining technical example of what could be possible on the PS3, David Cage’s tale has had all of its edges polished and sharpened. The problem is that where the polish makes the good areas look fantastic, the rough edges have begun to stick out like a sore thumb. Sure, the character animations hold an incredible sense of weight and heft to a startling level, but some of the scenery they interact with is distinctly polygonal to an equally jarring degree. Similarly, the new lighting effects are counteracted by some of the clunky feeling controls at certain points throughout the game.
Given that Heavy Rain is described as a work of “interactive drama”, it’s hard not to draw attention to its narrative troubles. The eventual reveal of the Origami Killer is a moment that still shocks, although not entirely for all the right reasons. Some questionable leaps of logic are required to accept the identity as accurate, and then there are the plot holes. Huge, gaping plot holes that (as mentioned above) you could probably drive a truck through with room to spare. I shan’t spoil anything in here, but there will definitely be some head scratching moments. Overall though, it’s just about tight enough to prevent the entire game from falling apart at the seams, and for every moment of sheer bewilderment, there are several other enjoyable parts.
If you’ve yet to pick up Heavy Rain, it’s hard for me not to recommend as a curiosity. Released at a time when everything was getting increasingly more FPS centric, Heavy Rain made some bold leaps and for the most part, stuck the landing. Quite whether it all hangs together in 2016, though, it a subject that’s up for debate. Personally, I think I’m enamoured with it enough to forgive its mis-steps, and even with very few changes outside of a sharpening up and new lights, it’s well worth a pick up.