Retro Review | Heavy Rain (PS3)

Retro Review | Heavy Rain (PS3)

Can an emotionally wrecked father save his son from the Origami Killer? Heavy Rain lets you decide!

Name: Heavy Rain

Format: Sony PlayStation 3

Released: 23rd February 2010

Developer: Quantic Dream

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment


It was Christmas 2018, my wife gave me the PlayStation 4 title Detroit: Become Human which had been written by Quantic Dreams. I had extensively played the demo which appeared online a few months previously and was eager to play the full game.

Whilst playing Detroit: Become Human, I decided to do a little research on Quantic Dreams and discovered they had already made two previous games of the same style for the PlayStation 3, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.

I managed to pick up both these titles extremely cheap on the second-hand market and was happy to play the original versions despite there being a full HD remaster available for the PlayStation 4.

Heavy Rain is the story of several protagonists and their attempts to capture the “Origami Killer”, although, that’s rather getting ahead of ourselves.

For the majority of the game, you play as Ethan, the father to two boys, Jason and Shaun. The day after Jason’s tenth birthday, the family go shopping. However, it doesn’t go as planned and Jason runs off.

You try to catch him but due to the course of playable events, both Ethan and Jason are hit by a car. Sadly, Jason is killed and Ethan slips into a six-month coma.

Once Ethan awakes, blaming himself for the death of his son, he divorces his wife and moves into a dingy suburban house.

Ethan has obviously taken the death of his son badly as any father would, but the event has caused mental trauma and frequent blackouts.

Should Ethan talk to his son or just sit down. This is how the options are displayed throughout the game.

Fast forward two years later and Ethan has taken Shaun to the local park. Once there, Ethan suffers another one of his blackouts. He later awakes to discover that Shaun has been taken by the “Origami Killer”.

The “Origami Killer” has been taking children for some time now, always during the wet Autumn (or Fall) season. When the bodies are discovered they always find a lotus flower upon the corpse and a small origami animal nearby.

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The killer doesn’t kill the children personally but locks them up in some way that their surroundings will fill with rainwater allowing the child to drown.

FBI agent Norman Jayden discovers one of these children locked in a cell which flash flooded due to a violent rainstorm. Based on the predicted weather patterns of constant rain, he estimates that Shaun has just three days to live before he suffers a similar fate.

The “Origami Killer” contacts Ethan and gives him the chance to discover where Shaun is being held. All he has to do is perform a set of challenges.

What I have described is not some elaborate introduction into the story but the first couple of hours gameplay itself. You take control of Ethan from the moment the game opens.

As the story progresses, you will also control FBI agent Norman Jayden, private investigator Scott Shelby and journalist Madison Paige.

Lauren Winter, whose son was killed by the “Origami Killer” and P.I. Scott Shelby.

Heavy Rain is an interactive story which gives you a lot of freedom to make changes as it progresses. It’s not uncommon for a major character to die thus significantly changing the outcome.

The game itself is shown in the third person view.  You can freely walk around any environment but can only interact with certain items where a contextual icon will be displayed.

For example, if you walk to a chair, a down arrow will appear. Pulling the right stick down will make your character sit in the chair. Maybe you’ve found some orange juice to drink in a carton. Before you can drink the juice, it must be shaken. To do this you may be asked to shake the DualShock controller from side to side.

Certain events throughout the game are scripted and you’ll have to respond to what is occurring on screen by following the on-screen prompts, move the left stick down, press and hold R2 etc. If you get this wrong, the game won’t quit and allow you to restart but shape and change further events in the story depending on how well you reacted.

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The only drawback to the control system is simply moving a character around. Heavy Rain reminds me of the original release of Resident Evil in that respect. To make a character walk, you must hold the left stick in the relevant direction and then press L2 to initiate the actual walking.

It sometimes feels like your driving a human-shaped tank and doesn’t quite feel like a natural control scheme for the game.

Heavy Rain was released in 2010, so despite being the last generation console release, It does look a little dated. However, a special mention goes to the loading screens which feature 3D rendered close-ups of the characters faces which still look great to this day.

How will this play out? Kill him or put the gun away?

Don’t let that put you off Heavy Rain. The story is brilliant and keeps you guessing as to the identity of the “Origami Killer” right until the end. I was stupid enough to think that Ethan’s blackouts were when an alter ego was making him the killer, similar to the events of the film Fight Club (it wasn’t!).

A word of warning too, Heavy Rain features multiple scenarios for the games ending.  I didn’t get it right on my first playthrough. When the story ended with the arrest of Madison, the death of both Ethan and FBI agent Norman and the killer walking free, I knew I had made several bad choices.

Fortunately, Heavy Rain is split into multiple chapters and you can replay the story from any previous point to make changes in your decisions.

The voice acting is of a high standard and when combined with a moving soundtrack it’s hard not to get emotional by the end of the game, especially as it’s dealing with a father and son relationship.

Heavy Rain might have slightly clunky controls and dated graphics (especially if you’ve just come from their latest game Detroit: Become Human), but the story and presentation make it a compelling game and definitely make it worth your while.

Four out of Five

4.5 stars! Don’t let a slightly wonky control scheme put you off what is a compelling and emotional story.


John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves film, and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990s. Whilst that website became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. He's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.

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