Games Meet Metal: To Catch A Psychopath: Heavy Rain: The Riff review

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

To Catch A Psychopath: Heavy Rain: The Riff review

I was such a nut for Se7en when it came out back in the days of VHS tapes. If I remember correctly, I wore that sucker out. Watching the detectives figure out the identity of the killer, having to see all these grizzly deaths, and the very unhappy ending. Oh, I was so hooked. Ever since then, I've watched a ton of gritty cop stories with mass muderers. Now, I get to take that love of the mystery and the catch onto a playable format, thanks to Heavy Rain.

Heavy Rain is developed by Quantum Dream, the same people who put together another game of great personal interest, Indigo Prophecy. Whereas Indigo Prophecy went off the cliff midway through by introducing a mysterious cult plot, Heavy Rain keeps it straight forward. The Origami killer has been killing children and leaving them all around the city for two years. Four people get mixed up in the search for the killer: Scott Shelby, a private dick hired by the families if the Origami's victims; Madison Paige, a jounalist with her own motives; Norman Jayden, an FBI profiler with some handy technology at his side; and Ethan Mars, a psychologically stressed father who's son may be the Origami's latest victim if he can't complete a set lists of suicidal tasks..

The main gameplay is done through quick time events. These can range from just opening car doors, to searching a cabinet, to carefully crawling through very deadly waves of electrical current. A good portion of these quick time events are multi-button exercises that can give your fingers quite the strain. Plus, a good chunk of the on-screen QTE prompts are quite small on a standard-definition TV and thus may make the player unintentionally mess up. So no, gameplay is not this game's strong suit, by far.

This baby's all about story, and does the plot shine thanks to the voice actors. This is probably one of the best voiced games I've ever played, with the only sour note going to Ethan Mars. His voice sounds too much like a forced American accent. The best has got to go to Norman Jayden, whose character has to deal with the bureaucracy of the local police to get even the slightest movement forward in the case. The supporting characters have their own times to shine. A suicidal mother, a prostitute intent on finding her child's killer, a grieving father, a lieutenant with a pension for beating suspects. All of these elements come together to make a movie Hollywood would be jealous of. Probably why they've already optioned a script for it.

If you can look past the cumbersome QTE's and the awfully slow beginning sequence, then you'll be able to see that Heavy Rain is one of the most emotional games ever put out. The voice acting sells the gripping dialogue and keeps the player in the game of whodunit until the very end. You may want to get some finger exercise first.

Final score: Rippin!

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