Republished on Tuesday 2nd July 2019: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of July's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
Love it or loathe it, Heavy Rain is an important game. The drizzly depression session certainly didn't invent the idea of interactive drama – developer Quantic Dream itself took a stab at the genre five years prior to its PlayStation 3 debut with the inconsistent Fahrenheit – but it popularised many of the systems that we appreciate today. Would the likes of The Walking Dead or Life Is Strange exist without David Cage's divisive murder mystery? Potentially not.
But like the rudimentary polygonal PSone releases that dragged the sprite-obsessed video game industry kicking and screaming into the third-dimension, this tale of origami-obsessed serial killers has started to look sodden under the relentless rain. It's not that the conversion to Sony's latest console has been poorly handled – far from it, the game still looks great from the right angle – but more that time has been unkind to Ethan Mars et al.
The voice acting was never the game's strong suit in 2010, but in the wake of The Last of Us and even its contemporary Beyond: Two Souls, it sounds practically ancient. Perhaps working on a shoe-string budget, the Parisian developer primarily hired non-native American actors to portray its predominantly Philadelphian cast. But while some characters pull off the accents better than others – portly private eye Scott Shelby immediately springs to mind – others are less successful.
The supporting cast is particularly bad, with the children upon which the whole plot pivots pumping out some cringe-inducing dialogue. It's a shame because the adventure has some bold ideas: looking after your child in the evening after school and taking him to the local park are sizeable sequences and unlike anything that you'll have ever experienced in games before. It never shies away from the mundane, grounding its characters in a way that's both unexpected and original.
But the execution's far too inconsistent to make these scenes work. Six years ago, when there was nothing else quite like it, it was easier to forgive the foray's iffy performances – but times have changed. The actors are not the only ones at fault, however, as David Cage's script is overwrought and riddled with plot holes. While newcomers may be less perturbed by the absurd red herrings, they stick out like a sore thumb once you know what's coming.
For those completely unfamiliar with this tale of parenthood, though, it offers a voyeuristic-like view into the lives of four flawed personalities. The separate stories are sewn together by a spate of murders, where the modus operandi of the individual involved deals with the death of drowned children. It'd be dark stuff if the script was stronger, but even with the dodgy accents and awkward exchanges, it's still pretty depressing.
This is partly because the characters are all unusually imperfect. The aforementioned Scott Shelby is overweight and asthmatic, while Ethan Mars is agoraphobic and mentally unstable; Madison Paige – a sprightly journalist modelled upon Guy Ritchie's spouse Jacqui Ainsley – is an insomniac, while FBI agent Norman Jayden is a drug addict. All of these afflictions feel a little forced as Cage tries to sell the cast as everyday people with common problems, but they do provide the framework for plenty of drama.
Of course, the main spectacle revolves around Mars' search for his son, who's been kidnapped by the aforementioned killer. A little like Beyond: Two Souls, the game can't quite seem to make up its mind about whether it wants to be a police procedural or a thriller, and it even veers off into the territory of torture porn and psychological horror. But despite these tonal inconsistencies, it at least has consequences that matter; one mistake can see you permanently lose a character.
While the experience is still authored, the significance of your actions matter more than in comparable releases, and it's not always obvious what the outcome's going to be. Sometimes, the game even expects you to be paying attention to details that seem inconsequential; a police enquiry asks you to recall information from an earlier scene that's spelled out but you probably won't remember. It's moments like these when the title is at its absolute best.
And the presentation is impressive, too. The iconic thought bubbles that are used in dialogue trees were later borrowed by big-budget television series Sherlock, and the action is frequently framed in a way familiar to movies but not necessarily games. This does lead to some clumsiness in the controls – you essentially accelerate your character using the R2 trigger like a car – but when it works it's pretty great. The screen splitting into multiple parts is also a compelling story-telling technique.
There are definitely areas where the game's starting to show its age visually, though. While a lot of work has been done to upgrade the graphics to 1080p, there's a low-poly look to the environments and character models that root them in the previous generation. The animations feel unnatural as well, primarily due to the fact that the body and facial performances were shot separately. It just doesn't always match up as it should, and leads to uncanny valley.
We should also probably mention the overemphasis on QTEs, which use the motion sensors to ill effect. Despite the DualShock 4 packing much more precise gyroscopes, it still feels like you're stuck with the old SIXAXIS when you're forced to shake the controller like a mad man to avoid speeding cars and… Er, dry your back with a stained bath towel. We get what the developer was going for, but it's just not as exact as it needs to be – and it's extra frustrating when there are lives on the line.
The forecast was never exactly great for Heavy Rain on the PS4. This remains a ground-breaking game, and it's still possible to appreciate the areas where it innovated, but time has not been kind to the title's damp performances and dismal writing. If you're eager to go back to the release that gave life to the current spate of narrative-driven games, then this new-gen port does an admirable job of sprucing up the visuals. But while we don't want to hang this important outing out to dry, you should certainly beware of the inclement weather within.
I loved Beyond Two Souls so I might have a stab at this
EDIT: so I just watched digital foundry's video on it and it appears its got quite a few bugs so I would wait for it to get patched first
I will be picking this one up. This was one of the games I regretted not being able last gen as a 360 owner.
@get2sammyb Do you think this game would be enjoyable for someone who has never experienced it or is it aged too much?
I absolutely loved Heavy Rain. If you've never played, this is a great pick up, especially if you enjoy a good murder mystery.
I myself will pick up the collection a couple of years down the road as the game is still relatively fresh in my mind. The story is everything to the game & never played Beyond.
This reminds me of gamebooks from the 80s: a mix of two good things resulting in an inconsistent mishmash.
I had a go on this when it first came out on PS3, and it just didn't grab me. I like narrative-driven games, but this one really didn't do anything for me.
Loved this game ... Everything bout it grabbed me. Story, characters, gameplay, mood, soundtrack! Impeccable!! Particularly loved that psycho doctor's torture chamber!! 5 outta 10 seems really low! Played through it 3 times but would defo consider getting it again for PS4 (despite knowing the BIG reveal!) That's why Beyond was prob my biggest gaming disappointment ever! I didn't enjoy Beyond at all.
well i have the PS3 original and i won't be getting this
not that it was a bad game but i got the perfect ending on my first playthrough so i never played it again because i really had no need to
Thought the game sucked back in 2010, can't imagine what I'd think now.
I failed and did not get the ending I wanted when I played on PS3 so will be picking this up.
I only played this through once back on PS3, but I really enjoyed it at the time! JASON!
@SKC_Diamond I didn't really experience any bugs so I'm not sure what Digital Foundry have found. They certainly didn't impact my playthrough.
@Tasuki Potentially, but it'll still feel dated if you've played Beyond: Two Souls or The Last of Us.
@fluggy I adored it at the time, too, but it's aged poorly.
Never played beyond. But loved heavy rain. So will pick it up in the near future
Sorry but this review is Bull a 5 what a joke.
Those were the scores it should have got upon release on ps3
This game is hilarious, it gives let's players great material to work with.
@Flaming_Kaiser It has a score average of 81 on
There are some glitches but hopefully they are patched soon.
Was considering this after enjoying Until Dawn so much but not sure now!
This or Life is Strange? Hmmm...?
While I will say this pales in comparison to Until Dawns production values, it is a really fun experience - and that was playing once and then watching once. And then watch this video of a guy missing every prompt in the market: http://youtu.be/X-L-G1q_0L8
Way too low score. Just look at the meta. The game came out in 2010 not 1990. It hasn't had the time to age that bad at all.
It's still a great experience for everyone who hasn't played it. And it goes without saying that people who bought the ps3 version have no reason to pick this up. But for everyone else, it's a must have.
Unfortunately, I may have to find another site for reviews. This has a great community, but I've been disappointed one too many times with its reviews lately. Shame.
There wasn't any way this could have scored higher than Beyond 2 Souls as whatever criticisms people may have of that game, this, is far worse. The plot us utter garbage in my opinion. I did enjoy it somewhat first time round but it's very much a 'so what' game.
@thiz dude, go play Shenmue.
@VanillaLake 81? Is average? Perhaps some sarcasm.
I have to disagree. I played Golden Axe recently and not only does it look ancient, but it feels really uncomfortable. Like the characters move too slow or have very few options in terms of what they can do. It really felt like a chore having to play it again. Those games aged bad. Heavy Rain not so much. Actually, not at all, imo.
Mario games (at least Super Mario 3) have aged better than Golden Axe and are still enjoyable to this day. But streets of rage, TMNT and the like have aged terribly.
Does this support Move controls?
@naruball Sorry you feel that way. This was a hard review to write because I think Heavy Rain is influential, but that doesn't mean it stands up to modern expectations. The likes of The Last of Us and even Beyond: Two Souls have superseded it in areas, but there are still parts where Heavy Rain shines.
It's a great port (I didn't encounter any bugs) and I'd recommend people play it if they're curious. It's just important to remember that there are better written and better acted games out there these days.
@Mahe No, sadly not.
Hence why you shouldn't re-review old games (As per the forum thread) - at least if you do it's not worth trying to renumber them, you'll never be able to fully justify the inevitable reduction in score lol
@Bad-MuthaAdebisi No sarcasm here, I mean that the average score it got from reviewers is 81, which is quite good.
Why everybody seems to think everybody else is sarcastic on the internet??
I think if you played the game on PS3 you shouldn't do the review on PS4 version. It's almost certain you will be biased.
Things change guys, I remember Uncharted 2 being a watershed moment back in 2009. I replayed it last month and it's still great, but it's not as good as it was back then. Heavy Rain has an absolute mess of a story, obtuse gameplay and horribly inconsistent voice acting.
5 is a fair score..
@naruball I though it was a great review, especially considering the amateurish writing, unacceptable glitches, heavy handed plot and the overall boring factor of the game. To each their own but after following MANY different review sites, push square is far ahead of almost all others in terms of realistic reviews and community involvement. Good luck finding any other site that compares.
@naruball have you been disappointed by the reviews because they don't match your opinion, or have you not liked the way they've been written? This is a genuine question as I generally think reviews here are well constructed regardless of whether I agree with the score.
You guys gave the ps3 version an 8. What happened?
@TomatoDragonPSN flip phones and Windows 98 were great too. We should all keep using them
@DominicanGlory That doesn't make a lick of sense, comparison wise.
@TomatoDragonPSN Things change and so do opinions. Do you have the same opinions you did five years ago?
@DominicanGlory Generally, yes I do have the same opinion, on many topics not just gaming. I don't change at every shift of the wind.
But for this specific situation...mechanics didn't change. The writing, voice acting,aesthetics, remained the same.
I personally like Beyond more than HR..but I think a 5 is a bit too harsh. Just a little odd that what was praised not all that long ago, is now criticized.
Industry standards have changed through.
As I said in the review, Heavy Rain was ground breaking at the time. Its faults were more forgiveable because there was nothing else like it. We now have games like Beyond: Two Souls (which has its own problems) and The Last of Us and The Walking Dead... All of which are different, but have advanced the concepts that Heavy Rain introduced.
None of the above games were out when Heavy Rain first launched.
@VanillaLake 81 it's a good score, actually. And while it isn't as high as the PS3 counterpart, it is slightly higher than D4. I have never played Heavy Rain so I'll definitely check this game out soon.
@Bad-MuthaAdebisi I think he meant 81 was the average score not 81 is average
@SoulsBourne128 I've never played this game either. What is D4?
@reddog Thank you.
I haven't played the game, but no way is 5 years enough to make a game leap from an 8 to a 5. Either it was overrated then, or underrated now. Perhaps a bit of both.
@VanillaLake the way you constructed your sentence is why, 81 is very good although a lot of very average games get 70 - 80
This game is one the best of all time. Reviewer is really dumb to give such score, I cant believe it...
@thiz My favourite title since ICO on PS2 , think 5/10 is extremely harsh but like he said at beginning it's a devisive title ,if me or you had rereviewed it'd have been an 8.5 or 9. It's the only game I've ever completed in one weekend sitting ,it was so good.
Not all opinions are going to be the same. If anything, I'd say a 5 is a bit on the high side, even back in 2010 I wasn't impressed one bit with this game and the pretentious writing.
I personally loved it back in the day, but I'd be doing a disservice to anyone that reads the site if I pretended like it hadn't aged and been surpassed by its contemporaries.
I think what hurts this game more than anything is it's very much story based. Again, all subjective but you ask me there isn't much actual gameplay in this, or at least not the kind of gameplay I enjoy. I want to feel engaged in the experience and hours of QTEs, which is essentially what this is, does nothing for me. If it were more like The Last of Us or the Uncharteds or Alan Wake, all of which are extremely heavy on story but also have plenty of action, I think it might've held up better. Eventhough I hated my first experience with the game back in 2010, I'd still say that like a movie Heavy Rain is worth checking out regardless of scores, but we talk about revisiting games, like you basically say in the review, some age well and some don't. The Mario games have a very simple story but there is something magical about the gameplay that makes them extremely fun to revisit and I think that's the key. A good story is great but when there's nothing of substance to back it up, that becomes an issue. It becomes more of an issue when the story sucks like Heavy Rain's.
@ReDiR show some respect. We don't insult others here. Also, opinions vary from person to person. One man's trash is another man's treasure. I personally think Heavy Rain is abysmal deserving of lower than a 5. Does that make me dumb?
No, it just means I like different things. People need to stop getting offended whenever a review doesn't align with their opinion.
@Gamer83 Yeah, clearly not for you, which is fine. I do think this game has some cool "gameplay" ideas, though. Like I mentioned in the review, I love the bit where you're being questioned by the police and the game tasks you with remembering details that are made VERY obvious in earlier scene, but are really challenging to recall.
It really puts you into the shoes of someone under police scrutiny, and there are a lot of interesting little touches like that throughout Heavy Rain. It's something that Beyond: Two Souls lacked I think, and I hope they rekindle in Detroit.
I never played the game, but all I can think of is Mega64's skit on this.
JASOOOON, JAAAASON! Oh, Jason!
@Azikira "Is this guy giving you a hard time? I've fought guys like this before."
@TheMightyPunram This leaf is suspicious!
@WillMerfi I disagree. They both have pros and cons, but Beyond: Two Souls is much better acted.
Unlike the Uncharted Collection, this isn't something I'd buy again on PS4, but I loved it on PS3.
I'm still gutted that we only ever got one of the promised four pieces of DLC, though.
I loved this game on PS3. If you have patience to play it for an hour or so, you'll get hooked. Once you've made it through to the end, it's cool to go back and work to see the other endings. If you had a 360 and never played it, it's great that you can now play it on PS4.
Agree but still love it 😍
what the heck dude
Nothing is wrong with a average game!
x "Jason" x "Jason" x "Jason"
Man its so 🔥 we need some Heavy Rain.
Still 8/10 for Metal Gear Survive. 😆
No Heavy Rain is the better game.
Even though it’s a dated game, I loved it.
You’re review is well written but I say this is still an 8. A 5 is pretty bad.
Couple of hours on my way now, and enjoying it greatly. A lot of what is in the review is true though, but don't let the score put you off. I think it has a lot to offer even in 2021. I played all the blockbuster graphic powerhouses, and i can say it doesn't look that bad, a bit La Noire like. If you can get it on discount, i would.
A 5? You guys HATE these kinda games lol
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