Heavy Rain

Common Sense Media says

Thriller about kid killer with gore and sex is not for kids.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game has you trying to stop an evil serial killer, and for the most part you're not using violence to stop him (though the P.I. is the most physical out of the bunch). Sex is very much a part of the game.

Positive role models

The game has four playable (but very different) characters. For the most part, they all seem to be good people and decent citizens: Ethan is a caring father, for example and Scott protects a prostitute from being roughed up. These protagonists, however, each have a backstory -- usually with some skeletons in the closet -- that come out in this adventure.


Ease of play

This is where Heavy Rain needs a bit of work. The game's non-conventional control scheme takes some getting used to. Some might give up before getting over the learning curve because the developers didn't make it easy to control these characters and interact with the world.



Scenes of violence and blood include using weapons to fight characters (the worst being watching someone impaled by a drill ), seeing corpses at crime scenes in a bathtub or under a tarp, and, while not shown "on camera," one of the character who must cut off his finger using a saw (and players will hear screams of agony). The latter is particularly disturbing because the character does it to save his son, and the game lingers on his dread of doing the act.


The game includes some scenes of nudity (bare breasts and buttocks for both male and female characters), including a forced female striptease at gunpoint. There is also some sensual interaction between characters such as fondling and kissing, played out like a game as players must press the correct buttons on the controller in a timely manner to progress through the act (long kisses, undoing a bra, sensual groping, and so on). The act of sexual intercourse is not seen -- but it's implied -- as a topless woman in seen lying on top of a shadowy figure (what appears to be a man) and she has a look of pleasure on her face. Also, early on in the game, the P.I. character enters a seedy hotel room used for prostitution (the mother of one of the victims) and is asked to leave money on the table before the "act," which they do not commit.


Course language can be heard throughout the game, including intense words such as "f--k," motherf--ker," "s--t," and "assh--e." It's not excessive but this dialogue-heavy mature game does contain foul language peppered throughout the adventure.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are some scenes of drinking alcohol, characters addicted to a fictional drug (in vials), white powder that implies cocaine use, and some cigarette smoking. The four characters you control do not partake in any of this -- other than being able to pull a beer out of your fridge (as Ethan) to drink it -- but these actions are witnessed by the player.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the emotional thriller Heavy Rain has a dark story surrounding a serial killer who murders children. With a storyline like that, you know this isn't a game for young players. You play as four characters trying to stop the murders. The game features near photorealistic graphics that show blood and violence; although the characters you control aren't usually responsible for these actions (most are in cutscenes or observed in the real-time environment). The game also has nudity (not full frontal), intimacy (kissing, groping, and rubbing), and a sex game which culminates in the act occuring offscreen. Alcohol, drugs, and smoking can be seen in the game, which is also laced with profanity. While this psychological thriller is exceptionally good as a video game -- and an experiment in interactive storytelling -- it was not made for young eyes or ears.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

If you've ever doubted if a video game can evoke emotion, such as pathos and anxiety, boot up Quantic Dream's HEAVY RAIN, a Sony PlayStation 3 exclusive that delivers a dark and disturbing adventure for mature players. This cinematic tale focuses on a mysterious serial killer who preys on young children, and the four main protagonists, all of whom you control, who work to stop the murderer in his tracks. At various points in the game you'll play as Ethan, a distraught father who blames himself for the accidental death of his son outside of a shopping mall; Norman, a FBI profiler who uses high-tech \"augmented reality\" glasses to analyze evidence at crime scenes; Scott, a weathered middle-aged cop turned private eye; and Madison, a photographer who suffers from insomnia. Everyone's connection to the Origami Killer, who leaves a folded paper swan in his victim's hands, is revealed after a few hours of play.

Is it any good?


Heavy Rain is an extraordinary adventure. Featuring graphics that borders on photorealism, not only is this interactive game extremely well-written, but all of your decisions can alter the story. It could be as subtle as Ethan's son getting in trouble at school because you didn't make him do his homework the night before to one of the four protagonists dying as a result of your actions (and you must carry on with the game without that character's input). This is a neat concept that plays out well. The controls, which takes some getting used to, are all contextual, meaning you'll need to press buttons or move the analog sticks in a given direction based on onscreen cues. These cues will have an effect based on what's happening at that moment. This method of playing is quite unique. Some sequences, such as fighting scenes, are timed, so players will have to press the button combinations correctly and in a timely manner. If you don't mind a slower-paced adventure and enjoy a deep and dark narrative tale, mature players will find themselves emotionally drawn and intrigued by Heavy Rain.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how these game developers took a chance to create something different. This is an adventure game, which are not very popular these days, with a slower-paced story with deep characters and plenty of dialogue. It delivers a rich, immersive experience where your actions can alter the story.

  • Families can discuss the impact of controls on how you react to a video game. Here, the controls, while a bit tricky, let the player interact with the world by pressing a button that matches an onscreen cue, which is different than how most games play out. Did this control system work for you?

  • With near photorealistic graphics, does this game's violence seem more realistic?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date:February 23, 2010
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs (PlayStation 3)

This review of Heavy Rain was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old May 8, 2011
The man is trying to save his son. There is some onscreen nudity.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bywilliam_1601 July 8, 2010

-12: No 13-15: If Mature 15+: Yes

Heavy Rain is interesting in the aspect that it doesn't try to be offensive. Letting your child play this game isn't a question of age, but rather maturity. HR contains Violence, Sex, Language and Drugs, but the themes, regardless of how dark they are, serve an ultimately positive moral. Characters in the game may have a darkened past, but mostly serve as great role-models for children aspiring to grow into a righteous adult at some point in their lives.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byPL Hans November 26, 2010

I never played the game, but I watched a walkthrough

In the version I saw, the main characters had their weaknesses, but struggled through them to help others. Ethan Mars goes to extreme lengths to help his son, Madison Page sacrifices a lot to help Ethan, Norman Jayden gives up his drug addiction to help find the killer, and Scott Shelby goes out of his way to protect a prostitute and a cashier who's being robbed. It plays out very similar to a movie. there is a dramatic beginning, opening titles, rising action, a definite climax, and then a satisfactory conclusion. The plot is about an attempt to save a young boy's life and stop a serial killer, so the messages are positive. The content, however, is major red flag for some ages. Content Summary (NOTE: all the content below is taken from the walk-through that I watched; thus, there may be more or less, depending on the choices you make) Drug Content: Moderate-6/10 Norman Jayden is addicted to a fictional drug. He takes two trips, and is tempted to do so other times. We see him experiencing some negative consequences as a result, including hallucinations and blackouts. Language: Major-7/10 About 50-100 profanities in all. Some uses of f*ck(including a couple combined with "mother"), as well as sh*t, and other milder language. Sexual Content: Major-7/10: Ethan is seen nude in the shower(we see bare buttocks, but no full frontal nudity). Madison is forced to strip down to bra and panties by a thug with a gun. She is also assaulted by several rapists, who briefly paw at her torso(she's wearing panties and a tank top). She's also knocked out by a elderly doctor who then slowly runs his hands along her body(his doesn't last long). Shelby enters a prostitute's apartment, and she references sex, but this doesn't go anywhere. Violence: Extreme-9/10: Shelby, Madison, and Jayden gets into several brawls, punching and smashing opponents. Ethan also injures himself multiple times(we see violent wounds after a car accident and again later when he crawls over glass). There is one extended shootout, with at least a dozen gunmen taken down. The most disturbing violence includes a boy and a woman(separately)getting drowned. One man shoots another point-blank in the head(execution style). The most graphic moments are when a man is run over by a big truck and we see a blood puddle, as well as when a woman stabs an old man in the heart with a drill(he falls on her, adding to the disturbing quality). Also well worth noting is a scene in which a character has to cut off his finger. He grabs his little finger with pliers, and after a long build-up, slams his fist down on them, crushing and cutting his finger off(the impact is felt, but not shown). In summary, great game for mature audiences.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models


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