New video games are released almost every week, everything from small indie affairs to big-budget blockbusters. In addition to the aforementioned titles there is a new trend emerging, that of the remaster or port—an older game brought to a new generation of consoles—is dominating the market, so much so that it seems to be replacing fresh concepts. The latest in this movement is Heavy Rain, a game that was well received when it first arrived on PlayStation 3 (PS3), but how does it hold up on PlayStation 4 (PS4)?
A Novel Tale
Video games aren’t often recognized for their story telling capabilities, this is a crime in Heavy Rain’s case. The narrative is told from four perspectives: A distraught father struggling to repair his life after a loss, a private detective hired to find a killer, a young woman plagued by insomnia, and an FBI agent pulled into a murder mystery. Together with these individuals, you will explore one of the most engaging and poignant tales gaming has to offer.
The story is not the only novel aspect of Heavy Rain; the gameplay is just as unique. Where many games focus on mindless action and explosions, Heavy Rain places its focus on exploration. Beginning with a day in the life of Ethan Mars, a loving father and husband, you play an average man performing menial tasks: waking up, taking a shower, shaving, exploring his home, and setting a table ready for his son’s birthday party. It is refreshing, unique, and rather relaxing to play simple errands in a video game instead of shooting guns, racing cars or participating in brutal fights. What may sound boring at first soon escalates into acts that could lead to your character’s death, and then you realize, those simple tasks were just tutorials preparing you for the dangers to come, a lot of dangers. You must act fast, if you drop a plate at the start of the game, the dish will shatter, no big deal. However, dropping a weapon when it’s time to defend oneself could lead to some big problems. This is another fantastically innovative game element, the choice and consequence system. Whether it is a line of dialogue or a hasty action that could mean certain destruction, your choices matter. If one of the protagonists meets their demise, they stay dead. The story will continue on, changed by his or her fatality. This means that Heavy Rain holds an abundance of replay value and many possible endings to discover.
When your character is searching the refrigerator for a sip of orange juice or casually informing his son that it’s “time for bed,” one may be forgiven for thinking Heavy Rain is a life simulator, like The Sims. Even now, many years since its initial release, it still looks fantastic. It’s hard to tell if the visuals have been improved. Some keen-eyed gamers may tell you that the textures have been updated, making the virtual people look even more lifelike, but, to this reviewer, the graphics appear on par with the original.
The re-release of Heavy Rain is difficult for me to review. The game itself is fantastic and still holds up well today, yet playing another old game on a new console leaves me feeling cheated. We did not buy the latest machines to play games made on the old ones. Moreover, this old game will set you back $30, or $40 if you buy it bundled with its spiritual sequel, Beyond Two Souls. If you are new to Heavy Rain, it is certainly worth a purchase; however, if you have played it many times before you will not find anything new here. I would say this: new players should come on in, but retuning ones should keep on walking.