How far will you go to save someone you love? That’s the question that Heavy Rain, the interactive drama from Quantic Dream and one half of a new collection of remasters asks. Or at least, that’s its biggest, most pervasive question. In its newly available remastered form, it asks a few more – like “Man, didn’t this look and feel so much better 6 years ago?”

When it was unleashed on audiences midway through the PlayStation 3’s life, it was a visual and aural fest, a rich and sumptuous experience that promised a new way of telling stories in videogames. In an age where just about everything was yet another first person shooter, it genuinely felt fresh and original.

Heavy Rain (1)

It was ambitious, trying its very best to evoke genuine emotion through its storytelling; something we didn’t get very much. It successfully blurred the line between film and games, and opened the doors for more games that dispensed with heavy action in favour of putting forth a narrative. It may have really just been cut-scenes blended with quick-time events, but it was one of my very favourite games in its release year. You can read our original review of it here.

The story’s just as cliché-ridden and full of holes as it’s ever been if you take the time to scratch away beneath its surface; many of the character’s motivations are never really made all that clear, there are a number of frankly implausible scenarios and the writing can (and often does) veer off in to the distinctly cheesy. Despite that it’s still worth playing – and that’s largely down to something approaching genuine character development (at least for some of its leads), and the way that it taps in to your own experiences and expectations.

Heavy Rain (2)

As you play through the interwoven narratives of its four playable characters (A distraught father, FBI investigator, a gumshoe and a lady who struggles to sleep), the dialogue options, character movements and its inexorable progress make it emotionally effecting, even if it is a little hammy. It’s not about shooting your way through to its conclusion, or using your puzzle-solving skills to clever your way to the end, but rather about interaction. It’s about doing mundane things like brushing your teeth, taking a morning piss or changing a baby’s nappy to create a sense of connection and empathy, and it still does that to great effect.

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Heavy Rain (5)

But, half a decade later, it’s a little less impressive – though most of that is because we, as modern players, have come to expect better. As I’ve mentioned, the writing often borders on the appalling, like the sloppy fiction of a budding, juvenile wordsmith. Strip away the veneer – the beautiful, stirring piano-led soundtrack, the too-clever camera angles and some wonderful imagery – and you’re left with a decent, but rote story.

Its odd movement controls, some-times tank-like and unwieldy are less forgivable – and the moments where the game just doesn’t want to pick up your movements correctly are a recipe for pure frustration.

Heavy Rain (4)

It’s the voice acting that’s most jarring though. I suppose it may have passed in 2010, but far too much of the game’s dialogue is delivered poorly (most notably by the game’s children), which really detracts from the intended immersion. Where Heavy Rain’s full-body motion capture was revolutionary in 2010, it’s been superseded by games like The Last of Us and Quantic Dream’s own Beyond: Two Souls.

It’s not the most ambitious of remasters. It’s a little crisper, thanks to a resolution bump to 1080p, and there’s better texture filtering– but you expect that. There’s nothing here that’ll really have you thinking you’re not playing a PS3 game.

When it’s juxtaposed, as it is in this collection, with Beyond: Two Souls it just shows how far the technology that powers our games has come.

Beyond (1)

That remaster is immediately more impressive. One of the PlayStation 3’s swansongs, Beyond used recognisable, professional actors. Couple that with the advances in graphics technologies between the two games, and the difference – where polish and finesse are concerned – between the two is immeasurable.

Beyond takes Quantic Dream and David Cage back to its sci-fi roots, telling the story of a young woman and her battles – internally and externally – with the paranormal entity that’s tethered to her.  Players control Jodie Holmes, magnificently characterised by Ellen Page, and details her young life within government paranormal institutions, her ambitions, and her relationship with surrogate father and head of the Department of Paranormal Activities, Nathan Hawkins (Willem Dafoe, digitally brought to life).

Beyond (2)

It’s not as good a game as Heavy Rain though, and its story is less emotionally effecting and made far less of an impact on me. Much of this, I feel, had to do with the game’s jumbled narrative. Here’s what I said in our original review of the game:

“Where it differs fundamentally from Heavy Rain, is in player agency, and urgency. Because it starts at the end, thanks to that jumbled narrative, you already know that Jodie is fine, making very nearly everything you do quite pointless; you know things are going to be ok. There are a few instances where what you do actually has some sort of real meaning, affecting your experience, but most of your actions only change the tone and direction of conversation.”

Beyond (3)

My biggest problem with the game though, is that though its starts out as a heartfelt emotional journey, it becomes overwrought Sci-fi twaddle. To borrow my own words once again:

“There are some incredibly emotional and poignant moments; bits that speak of real human emotion  – especially where Jodie is coming to terms with the supernatural being that perpetually accompanies her, but there’s a strange shift in tone towards the game’s tail-end where the whole thing descends into lunacy, and becomes a strange amalgamated mash of just about every single straight-to-DVD paranormal and Sci-Fi trope you could think of, that had me face-palming all the way through to the game’s obvious revelation.  Whatever emotional investment you may have in the characters is yanked out from under you, and it degenerates in to the very sort of action-oriented nonsense that Cage is always so vociferously critical of.”

Beyond (6)

It’s a bit of a nicer remaster though. Though neither game uses the PlayStation’s touch pad, Beyond now uses the controller’s speaker when you’re controlling Aiden, the ethereal being attached to Jodie. There’s another addition to this remaster that I quite liked – even if it is thiefed from the sort of games that Telltale makes. When you finish a chapter, the game tells you the percentage of other players who took the same path. It’s a neat little addition that doesn’t change the game, but does make you wonder a little about the other ways you could have handled the situation.

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You’re also able to play the game chronologically, instead of the jumbled story salad presented in the original game. While it’s not quite Cage’s original vision, it is easier to follow, and tells the story in a more cohesive way.

Last Updated: March 1, 2016

Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls Collection
Summary
If you've not played Quantic Dreams' pair of interactive dramas on the PlayStation 3, they're worth playing on Sony's newest console - if you can get past the lack of player agency as their inexorable progress pulls you through to their conclusions.
7.9
Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls Collection was reviewed on PlayStation 4

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • You can now press X to Jason in 1080p!

  • Umar

    The emotional collection we’ve all been waiting for!

  • Commander Admiral Chief
  • miaau

    many people with angst on the screenshots above. Although one or two could be angst or constipation.

    not sure if I can play games like that. Man, I am becoming fussy and picky. Heavy Rain always intrigued me, but as I own a 360 and now a WON, I cannot play it.

    Hmm, does seem a lot of fun, but when stories devolve into useless, thanks Geoff, twaddle, then I just switch off. Literally. The machine. It seems like writers try too hard to bring in a surprise or a twist. My gran used to say a good book / story has good pacing, some setting of the stage, some character development and ONE twist that may or may not be predicable based on the readers knowledge BUT that twist must be able to, by the end, be reconciled by character development or motivation. Else…….., say it Geoff. twaddle

    • miaau

      or, in other words, sh!t must make sense by the end, else all the twisty stories and cleverness leave the reader / viewer feeling cheated.

      Some rare, exceptions, of course.

    • Twaddle. 🙂

      I’m actually really keen for Cage’s new game – because he’s co-writing it wit somebody else, who can hopefully slap him when he starts thinking he’s too clever for his own good.

      • miaau

        Yes, when that works (a really, really creative author with one who knows how to apply brakes and other mundane, but required things) it works really, really well. (Feist and Wurts, the Empire Series, is a great example for me)

        and twaddle is a word I would never use in everyday speech or writing, but it does fit the description here perfectly.

  • oVg

    I have not played Heavy Rain yet, I did buy the digital version of Beyond Two Souls. As you can see by my Avatar, IT WAS THE BEST INTERACTIVE MOVIE THAT I HAVE EVER WATCHED.

    In fact, It was more enjoyable than Until Dawn and had more gameplay. I LOVE THE FOURTH WALL so darn ominous especially when you decide to go renegade.

    The production levels are CRAZY. It is also the best facial animation in any game and the acting and voice works is AAA.

    THE SET PEICES, OMG, So many from horse riding in to deep sea traversing.

    THE ENDING WAS FANTASTIC. 16 of them and 6 outcomes. I am on my 3rd play, and I keep missing paths.

    10/10

    David Cage FTW

    • miaau

      wait, wait. So did you like it, then? After all that?

      HANS ZIMMER has done some epic other music as well.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I also have a hard time telling, he’s really sending out a mixed message.

        • oVg

          Just watch the trailer

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I don’t see the point in watching trailers for games I can’t play ;P

          • oVg

            Happy?

          • miaau

            no. Still a game I cannot play. Need new gaming laptop, my 2011 model does not cut this mustard.

          • oVg

            Here you go 😛

          • miaau

            Still cannot play that. Gave away my EGA screen many years ago. But thank you for thinking of me! much appreciated.

          • oVg

            Pleasure

          • miaau

            Aces, man, aces. It is like you read my mind. Thanks!!!!!!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            H-what? I don’t know what emotions are because I haven’t played a David Cage game.

          • oVg

            You android.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            beedee beedee beedee oh oh

          • oVg

            The words of Negasonic Teenage Warhead “You old fuck”

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            *Buck ;P

      • oVg

        DUDE, we are so darn spoilt, we give The Walking Dead GOTY, we all love Until Dawn… Why this game got so much hate is beyond me excuse the pun.

        Maybe its because I jumped in fresh into 60fps/1080p but dam. It is hands down the best graphics that I have seen on the PS4.

        I LOVE IT

  • oVg

    ALSO you have to remember to use the new option for Beyond, the story in chronological order. It keeps the pacing perfect. Why they broke it up on the PS3, that was silly.

    • I’ll agree there. the game is definitely better played chronologically.

  • oVg

    Im not sure If I should go for Heavy Rain, but my SCI FI g-spot was rubbed during Beyond. This was my favourite scene. It reminded me of the Mass Effect DLC. Leviathan.

  • oVg

    You forgot to mention the biggest selling point. Beyond cost me 3 times less than 16 street fighters.

  • Nikola

    Well I definetly want this never played Heavy Rain and heard soo much good things about it!

    • oVg

      2 games for half the price of FAR CRY Primal at 60fps/1080p. I think its well worth it.

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