Press X to Jason.
Placing in GOTY list: second, 2010|Watch a Cullen Plays LIVE live stream of Heavy Rain right now here
Lets be blunt here. Beyond: Two Souls…was not a very good game. A lot better was expected on the next opus from Quantic Dream, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. For what they were given, Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe gave fantastic performances as Jodie and Dawkins respectively, and I certainly respect Sony for seeing the need to push something like it to the market. But besides one or two small moments, the supernatural aspect of Beyond didn’t seem to work out for David Cage as well as the grounded reality of Heavy Rain did.
Heavy Rain’s tale of kidnapped young kids and serial murderer the Origami Killer is absolutely bleak and depressing as hell too. The depressing tone of the game was just there for all to see from the start post-prologue(/Jason’ing marathon) to finish, depending on the ending(s) you got as you progressed through the story.
If there was one character who wore that depressing tone on his sleeve, it’s main lead Ethan Mars. Two years after losing his son after being knocked over, the change of person Ethan becomes in the midst of those two years is evident. A happy family man and architect content with how life was treating him beforehand, he’s no longer the man he was back then. He’s unshaven, estranged from his wife six months and has a distant relationship with other son Shaun as he continues to blame himself over what happened to Jason.
Things go from bad to really shitty worse when Shaun is kidnapped by the Origami Killer. If not found within a several day window, Shaun – like the killer’s previous victims – will be found on a wasteland, drowned by rainwater.
Like Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain maintained its multiple protagonist status quo. As well as Ethan, there’s FBI agent Norman Jaden, brought in to provide backup and expand on the parameters of the case as its main profiler. There’s Scott Shelby, the PI hired by the families of the Origami Killer’s victims. Finally, Madison Paige, the insomniac journalist who checks into a motel as the only place she can sleep.
It’s there she meets Ethan, who is staying there in the midst of having to do a series of various challenges set by the Origami Killer to help discover Shaun, some of which are near enough brutal, including having to go through a set of live transformers and having to cut off a pinky finger. If he succeeds, he’ll get letters as part of a Hangman-like game that’ll tell the whereabouts of Shaun. Failure to comply means no letters.
Say what you will about David Cage’s motivation for the telling of the interactive story and the argument of whether his and Quantic Dreams games are actual games in the traditional sense, but Heavy Rain’s story was still one of the most gripping stories I’ve played (or experienced, whatever) not just at the time of its release, but through the entire generation.
And as you will have seen in the Moments of the Generation piece earlier this week thanks to an excellent point from The Telegraph’s Tom Hoggins, it’s a game that raises the question most people will, hopefully, have to go their lives without answering. How far would you go to save a loved one, or in the context of the game, how far would you go to save your child? Heavy Rain is one such showing of the lengths a parent would go to save their child.
I can’t speak of Omnikron because I never played it and its been a while since I played Fahrenheit, but Quantic Dream’s games do ask raise life questions, at least in its more recent projects. With Heavy Rain, there were the questions I mentioned above. With Beyond: Two Souls, the biggest unknown of them all: what to expect in death.
Nonetheless, Heavy Rain is a game that told an engrossing story, one of the best of the generation, and asked the player serious questions about morality in the process. Beyond may not have lived up to the high standards of what came from the studio before it, but personally speaking, if Heavy Rain – and to a lesser extent tech demo Kara – showed what’s still possible from Quantic Dream, then Beyond was merely a blip.
Sign me up for what comes next.
Highlight: The final third of the game.
More Game of the Generation articles will be arriving throughout the day up until 9pm GMT with the Game of the Generation. Find the full list so far here, with special and honourable mentions going live on the list along with the GOTG at 9pm.