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Heavy Rain: Spoiler Thread!
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Steerpike
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March 11, 2010 - 11:21 am
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Abandon all hope of not finding out what happens in Heavy Rain if you enter this thread. 'cause I'm gonna talk about it.

So Mat, I finished Heavy Rain last night then scampered over here to re-read your review. It is incredibly interesting, the differences in our experiences. At first I kind of questioned how different each ending could be, but now I think it's pretty broad. You never said how your two playthroughs ended, but I'm pretty sure I got the worst possible ending: all my people died except Shelby, and Sean wasn't found in time.

General feelings? This is a pretty amazing game, badly hindered by serious narrative missteps in the final act and a control system that doesn't work as well in practice as in theory.

Starting with the story: the last act is rubbish. The identity of the Origami Killer is absurd. It's like Cage said, "who's the least likely person to be the killer? Not the least likely from a plot perspective, but the one players are least likely to blame?" And he came up with Scott Shelby. It's like saying the butler did it. The only alternative more ludicrous would be if Lauren the Hooker was the Origami Killer. Moreover, a shitty father and a little brother who dies in an accident does not a serial killer make. There needed to be more background. Plus, Madison was the one who figured out it was Scott, but she'd never met Scott in my game. She just magically knew which Scott of all the millions in the country was the killer. It really fell apart in the ending, and it felt rushed as well.

As far as controls go, the QTEs bothered me much less than the fact that there was never any context for them. It needed more clarification about what each button or stick motion would do - even a small text label would have been fine. More than once I meant to do one thing and did another. The same is true with the conversation system, which is pretty deceptive when you consider how far off some of your remarks are from their keywords.

Madison died because I hit the wrong button. I feel kind of stupid about that.

So I've got to gear up for another playthrough. Discuss!

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Mat
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March 11, 2010 - 12:00 pm
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Your first ending sounds very similar to mine, although Madison survived. Everybody else died and Scott got away completley free.

I was relatively satisfied with the ending although I agree about it feeling rushed. I think the story throws you afew swerve balls that don't really help matters, and by the time the story has done leading you down dead alleys the eventual unveiling of the actual killer seems really forced. I had trouble believing it was actually Scott at first and tried to justify all sorts of daft theories about why it wasn't him, until the game ended quite prematurely and it just.. was.

On the plus side, my second ending was better, and it felt a little more cohesive. As I touched upon in the review, having characters die can close off access to a number of different clues and avenues, even at the end. My second play through revealed more as a result of what happened.. although that's not to say the story wasn't without it's plot holes. I'm also not ruling out the possibility that the second play through may have seemed more cohesive because I personally knew who was the killer (that's one aspect that never changes, perhaps disappointingly).. 

As for Madison knowing who Scott Shelby was, I assumed the Mother whispered his full name to her and she just tracked him down, although that might be a slightly ambitious assumption and isn't really something that should be left down to theory work. That is a hole that I think can be explained but should have plugged by Quantic Dream.

Unfortunately, those aren't the sort of complaints you can address in a spoiler free review.. [Image Can Not Be Found]

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Steerpike
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March 11, 2010 - 12:53 pm
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I had a serious issue with Madison's character altogether, though again maybe I missed a few chunks of exposition. It was never clear why she was helping Ethan - I mean, aside from wanting an interview - and how she knew where to find him in the finger-cutting scene. She was also awfully quick to spread her legs for a dude who's basically just her neighbor in a sleazy hotel, and next scene she's thinking about how she might be falling in love. [Image Can Not Be Found]

And what was with the dream about those commandos in her (incredibly spacious and high-rent-looking for a journalist) apartment at the beginning? The whole insomnia angle was dropped, as was Jayden's addiction to that triptocaine stuff.

In my playthrough, Jayden was stabbed by the Killer at the club, after Madison left Mr. Scumbag unconscious with squashed balls. I thought I was doing pretty good in the QTE battle, then I died. Do you know if Jayden can survive that encounter?

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Mat
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March 11, 2010 - 2:37 pm
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Jayden appears to be the easiest character to kill, I think. I can think of a couple of obvious opportunities to do him in, along with the way in which he actually dies in my game. I wasn't aware he can be killed in the club although.. clearly he can! 

Of my 2 play throughs, Jayden died due to a massive overdose of the blue stuff he was sniffing (was that ever explained?) the first time and got dumped into the crusher by the bloke at the car compound the second. Jayden generally gets quite a tough time of it I think.. which is pleasing as I think he's the most bland character of the 4.

I also agree about Madison and the ease in which she falls for Ethan. That was abit of an uncomfortable scene in general really.. firstly because of the awful kissing animation, secondly because with Ethan's injuries, I couldn't help but wince at the thought..!

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Steerpike
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March 11, 2010 - 3:03 pm
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Exactly! I was watching it and I'm thinking... doesn't he have a terrible electrical burn on his chest? And is missing a piece of a finger? And has crawled over broken glass for like ten miles?

Jayden was a dull character. He seems almost wedged in, to demonstrate that at least one actual cop is looking for the Origami Killer. The rest are kind of hobbyists. I'd like to have experimented more with the ARI system, though. It was underutilized, but presented a pretty cool vision of virtual reality tech.

I have to play through with a completely different approach to see how much things change.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Mat
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March 11, 2010 - 3:36 pm
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I liked the ARI, which is a swift turnaround from the demo where I made a snap decision that I hated it. I think it's an interesting setting and time holder. The game is set in 2011, which I think has been purposely positioned as close enough to now to seem real yet far enough into the future for gadgets like that to seem plausible. I thought ARI did a good job, even if it reminded me too much of Batman's detective vision from Arkham Asylum (even though the 2 things aren't really that similar..)

As a character I thought Jayden was OK. Awful voice acting (again) but I was content enough with his role. I liked the angle with Blake too, even if I thought it could have been elaborated on a little further. Brought abit more to Jayden's character which is something he desperately needed. 

Heavy Rain pretty much demands a second play through. Knowing who the killer is does effect things though, both positivley and negatively. There are some really subtle clues as to Shelby's real character in the facial animations which are impossible to pick up on during a first play through, and some parts of the story might become a little clearer. Then again some new holes can emerge but, you can generally piece the story together if you've played it more than once.

In all fairness though I did find myself forgetting that Shelby was the killer. Not for long but during tenser scenes my mind did slip. Possibly a credit to the story - despite the holes - that it was able to re-assert itself on me a second time.

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xtal
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March 23, 2010 - 8:27 pm
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I just finished the game tonight and have finally been able to peek into this thread! Ack, there is so much to discuss.

Steerpike, your first post mirrors a lot of my thoughts and complaints. The QTEs didn't turn out to be that annoying, but some of them were just hard to see. And I played the game on a 42″ television in 1080p HDMI goodness. I don't have 20/20 vision, mind you, but shit… I found myself squinting a lot.

There is so much positive and negative about this game I don't know where to begin. I think the negative is very obvious and has been touched on mostly, so I'll go with the good stuff. I liked the "mature, adult" story as it's been touted. Heavy Rain may indeed not even be a video game in the sense we're accustomed to, but it was a nice breather from other genres, and although some points in the narrative are lacking it seems evident that the people at Quantic Dream poured their hearts into this, and I applaud that. Heavy Rain is unapologetic about what it is: a story about how far you would go to save someone you love.

My take on the characters. I didn't come into the game with much knowledge about the story itself so I didn't realize there would be one main protagonist; I thought it would be a lot more even, but I understand Ethan had to be the main focus for reasons obvious. Ethan's voice acting (like a lot of the others) was often painful to listen to, but his was one where I found myself excusing this because I genuinely began to empathize with his character during the "two years later" scene where he picks up Shaun and you learn his life has obviously crumbled. So many of his scenes were just crushing, and I found him much more powerful than the other characters. Unfortunately I feel like so many loose ends were left with him, possibly because for me he died in the last scene of the game.

Norman was fine; nothing special about his character or motives, he did just seem like the token "good cop who cares" guy. That said, I found his ARI device one of the coolest parts of the game, which served to break up and slow down the story quite well in certain parts. He turned out to be the hero of my game by throwing Mr. Shelby into the industrial human grinder. Well, he didn't really throw him, actually he tried to save him and apparently failed. After seeing this end battle play out, and I pretty much aced the QTEs, I wonder how it could have played out differently without Scott dying?

Madison was okay too; I found her voice one of the few that wasn't embarrassing throughout the game, at least. Her motives were suspect at best… how she happens to stumble across Ethan in the shithole motel and then basically drop her own life for him, it seemed unrealistic. It doesn't surprise me though, as I think we're still in a time where women are mainly thrown into video games for male pleasure, which is a shame and undermines the supposed "maturing industry." I think the Madison scene that had my heart pounding the most was actually her first, the dream sequence. Not knowing at the time it was a dream I was actually in shock at how violent the fight with the two burglars was becoming; I don't know if the intention of this scene was to invoke fear, but if that was then it was done well. We're so used to seeing men killing each other in video games that this scene of a woman being beaten up and in danger for her life really had me on the edge of my seat; it was intense and frightening. She was the slowest character to form, probably due to the fact that she's hardly involved in the first half of the game, but I did start to attach to her somewhat after the extremely awkward (like Mat C said, mostly due in part to the limited animation capabilities and Ethan's gruesome wounds) love scene. At that point I basically had to accept that she cared about saving the boy, so I went along with it.

Last but not least ….. the surprise killer, Scott Shelby. I'm with you on this, Steerpike: where the fuck did that come from? I mean, you had to expect some sort of twist… what with Ethan's blackouts I was sure that we were either bound to find him finally remembering all his horrible crimes in some endgame dramatic montage scene; that or the other twist that his recollections prove his innocence, but no, neither of those: that plot line just goes unresolved (at least in my game)!  But this….. I was just in disbelief. Forget undermining the story itself, this just plain makes absolutely no sense. Why the hell did he do all that investigating and thinking to himself about catching the origami killer? Surely not to go to such lengths as providing a hooker and suicidal mom and rich party kid with some half-baked alibi about his own character?

I definitely can say I enjoyed the game, and I will go back again to see what I could have done differently, but Scott Shelby as the killer just baffles me. His motives are weak, he must have been wearing one hell of a spandex under-suit in the fight scene with Jayden, and not to mention… did I forget something about the clock shop scene? I believe I was in control of Scott the entire time, and I do not remember bludgeoning the poor shopkeep to death?

So there you have it. I even got a trophy called "So Close" and the description says it was awarded to me for getting all my characters to the final scene … and failing. Ha ha ha. Better luck next time. I don't know where I failed exactly? I suspect that Madison falling over on her bike and getting put in the back of the police cruiser had something to do with it. Norman fought Scott and won, causing Scott to tumble into the grinder of death, while Ethan saved Shaun, but then decided to walk out the front gates of the place and look suspicious by putting his hand in his pocket? Idiot.

But quite an emotional ending … another son without a father. 

I'm glad the carpet wasn't completely pulled from under me only to reveal my dead son Jason as the killer, ha ha.

I'd love to hear more thoughts on the game from anyone else who has finished it.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Steerpike
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March 24, 2010 - 8:21 am
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Welcome to the Heavy Rain club, xtal!

I can't really shower enough compliments and applause on Quantic Dream for creating a game that's the interactive equivalent of Schindler's List - I mean, that movie was brilliant and powerful and moving, but was it "entertaining?" Certainly not in the classic sense. It's disemboweling. You don't really see it for fun. But film has moved into the realm of art, where cinema can be painful but still utterly worthwhile. Quantic Dream was attempting to prove that games could be the same way, and with Heavy Rain I think they scored huge points in demonstrating that.

You make a great point about Madison's first appearance and that fight with the dudes in her apartment. The smoothness and brutality of it, particularly the animations, was really amazing when you think about it. That the game could so effortlessly transition between different outcomes depending on how well you were QTE-ing, without even a split second pause to load alternatives, is technically incredible. And the fight itself was just so visceral. Not only that it was a woman being victimized, but that she was being victimized while in her unmentionables and fighting back realistically - the way you'd expect a tough healthy person to fight back when in danger, male or female. It was one of the most breathless parts of the game. I really wish they'd continued to explore that angle, and the insomnia. Clearly Madison has some deep-seated fears and it would have been an intriguing character study to learn more about them.

One scene I haven't brought up yet - I'm curious if you guys saw it - was when Scott and Lauren the Hooker were knocked out, tied up, tossed in a car, then tossed into a lake. Or a river. A big body of water. Anyway, I really enjoyed that scene, but it's one of the main instances where I complain about the context-less controls. Here I am in a sinking car and I've got, like, "Up," "Left," "Triangle," and "Wiggle Controller" all as options on the screen at once. They were all sort of wedged against Lauren the Hooker in the passenger side, so I picked one, thinking it probably stood for "undo her seat belt and get both of us the fuck out of this sinking car."

I was mistaken. It stood for "kick open the passenger side window and swim out, leaving Lauren the Hooker to drown even though you literally have to crawl over her to get to your new exit and she weighs like, a buck, tops, but don't bother to grab her and haul her to safety along with your fat ass."

Can Lauren the Hooker be saved?

Anyway, it wasn't really that scene but the one after - when Scott bursts into that rich dude's house and starts blasting away - that I really loved. It was fierce and fast and very action-packed, and for one rare instance I was totally dominating on the QTEs so it felt quite awesome. That scene is one of the many reasons that it's so completely absurd for Scott to be the Origami Killer. Scott was a nice guy, a lovable loser maybe, but a decent human being. The whole "quest for a father who's not a total ass" just doesn't compute. If he had a bad experience with his dad, he should donate to some charity for kids with crap fathers or sign up to be a foster parent or something. Don't start drowning kids in rainwater and making their fathers slice off fingers.

I'm kind of rambling now. I don't really have a point. I'll stop.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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March 24, 2010 - 9:46 am
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The exact same thing happened to me! First I undid my own seatbelt, then I saw a "shaking" control movement over Lauren, and I thought a split second about doing that, assuming it was to wake her up? Instead I started kicking open the door, only to swim past Lauren and leave her for dead?!? I was in total shock... the game really didn't do a good job there of making you realize you had to do something very specific to save her life. Not even a thought out loud like I should really wake Lauren up before I flood the car with lake water. Alas, she was no more. I'm definitely interested to see how her story would have played out had she escaped the car... would she live long enough to discover Scott as the killer? Maybe she would find herself in the same situation as Madison; or perhaps just be forgotten by Scott completely... who knows.

But agreement on the next scene, too. That was amazing. Scott's accuracy with a pistol was inhuman; if he were a random henchman in a 007 film the franchise would have ended with Bond's death long ago.

One last thing I forgot to mention: was that rich kid (I already forget his name? Gordi? Or was that his father? anyway...) not the most wretched voice acting you have ever heard? It was all over the place, up and down, creepy, then pedophilic, then angry, then creepy again. Oh, and the poor kids on the construction site, too. That was some pretty struggled Americanizing of wee French lads.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Synonamess Botch
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November 8, 2012 - 11:40 pm
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Just finished the game and finally read through this thread.  Never before in a game have I been so simultaneously infuriated and intrigued as in this one.  I found the QTEs more annoying than most of you I think.  Having to mash all 4 face buttons at once, what the heck?!  And as Steerpike noted, many times there was no good contextual information about which button did what.  I completely forgot about the "change camera angle" button until fairly late.  And I also often forgot to use the "What's on my mind" button too.

Part of my frustration came from making the mistake of playing the game on the middle difficulty.  I switched to easy after I botched the gun battle in the old rich man's house.  Shelby runs off without ever confronting him.  I went back after the end and played through that chapter just to see what happens.

I managed to have all of the main characters survive, plus I saved Shaun.  I also saved Lauren from the sunken car.  Jayden won the battle with Shelby, then saved him, and then won again, with Shelby falling to his death.  He got the credit in the end for solving the crime.  There was an odd scene in the prologue wherein he hallucinated about little tanks while using ARI.  Then when he shut it off, the tanks were still there.  But yeah, he was largely one-dimensional, but not unlikable.

Lauren's final scene was at Shelby's grave where she basically cursed him.

I too found the love connection with Ethan and Madison a bit contrived, but then I found similar fault with the forced relationship near the end of Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit.  Ahh what do you expect from a Frenchie?  grin  I also wondered how Madison figured out the killer's identity from just the name without ever meeting Shelby.  That soured things a bit for me, but not enough to ruin it all.  For me it makes sense to see Madison as someone without much meaning in her own life.  Given that, she was naturally drawn to Ethan, who had so much passion for finding his son.

As a father, I found Ethan's story most compelling and moving.  It did cause me to reflect on just what I would do to save my own son (not to mention my daughters).  The one thing I didn't do was kill the drug dealer.   I was able to piece together Shaun's location without those letters.    Ethan survived by walking outside with Madison and Shaun.  I suppose the poison was fake?  Anyway that theme is always ripe for exploration.

Now about Shelby.  I certainly didn't see it coming.  At one point Norman suspects the lieutenant, and is even given the option to accuse him, but I chose to dig into the evidence more, which led him to the real killer.  I took it that he posed as someone hired to investigate so that he could more easily erase his tracks, since perhaps he suspected that someone was getting too close.  I also assumed that he went after the rich man (Kramer?) in order to find out what he knew.  Once he realized the guy knew nothing he was free to save him (which I did).  At fits with his questioning of the old watch repairman.

Despite all of the apparent flaws and plot holes, I found the story quite good.  I can't help but compare it to Indigo Prophecy, and I'd say it exceeds that game in every way.  That's all I can think of for now.  I agree with you Steerpike, it was a huge accomplishment by Quantic Dream and obviously a labor of love.  It's easier to forgive its faults with that in mind.

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geggis
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November 9, 2012 - 8:40 am
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Oh excellent stuff Botch. I loved Heavy Rain, it was a defining experience for my girlfriend and I this gen. We played it in tandem separately and exchanged stories when we completed it, and with very different outcomes as well.

Jayden died in my playthrough at the hands of Mad Jack. I slipped taking his drugs and ended up in a car crusher which reminded me of the scene in Superman III where Clark gets dropped into one; it terrified me as a kid and here it was no different. The noise Jay makes as he's being minced in metal will stay with me forever. His story ended right there with Mad Jack grinning in the background. My girlfriend clearly remembers my reaction and I wouldn't tell her what had caused it because we agreed to steer clear of any spoilers till we were both finished.

When I discovered it was Shelby it made sense because in the flashback the little boy can be heard wheezing. A very nice touch.

I spent a very long time deciding whether to take the poison or not, sat in the chair in the corner of the room. In the end I walked out. I can't remember the reason why, it was something to do with Ethan going through so much only to throw it away by drinking some poison. That didn't wash with me.

That was my biggest criticism with Heavy Rain, the lack of context on certain interactions; some did totally different things to what you expected. Thankfully it didn't bother me too much but there were a couple of choices I made which weren't my intentions and that's a problem. If the UI had been clearer ('Put shoebox under bed' or 'Put shoebox on desk') those sorts of issues wouldn't exist.

The thing I loved most about it though was that it happily ditched so many game-y elements cutting straight to what the game was really about: the characters, the decisions and the consequences. It had the pace and direction of a good thriller but splintered depending on your choices, it was a cinematic and dramatic adventure book. Also, I liked that there were so many decisions that it wasn't clear which ones would come back to bite you in the ass, as such you treated every single one as if it mattered.

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