Heavy Rain

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Heavy Rain Game Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Visually striking thriller about kid killer with gore, sex.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 36 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

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).

Positive Role Models & Representations

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. But each has a backstory -- usually with some skeletons in the closet -- that come out in this adventure.

Ease of Play

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. Fast reactions and precise control movements necessary during some action sequences.


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 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's 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 isn't 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 don't commit.


Swearing can be heard throughout the game, including "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.

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 don't use 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.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Heavy Rain is a psychological thriller for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs. The game has a dark story surrounding a serial killer who murders children. You play as four characters trying to stop the murders by their own methods. 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byEthan_Mars May 17, 2013
Adult Written bySultankhan October 7, 2020
Teen, 13 years old Written byMross April 17, 2012


i have beat this game 2 times. both playthroughs were extremely enjoyable. the story follows 4 characters a divorced down on his luck father, a FBI agent, a PI,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCrunch May 28, 2019

Good game but not for kids

It was an amazing game. It had a great story line. The themes of murder, drug addiction, and prostitution were fine for me (a 13 year old girl) but the nudity a... Continue reading

What's it about?

HEAVY RAIN is a psychological thriller 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. Players will explore their environments, interacting with objects and making decisions that have consequences and effects in later chapters of the game. There are also some action sequences where players will need quick reflexes to react to dangerous situations for each character. Will they be able to stop the Origami Killer in time?

Is it any good?

This mature adventure is an extraordinary adventure that moves players through a wide range of emotions, from shock and surprise to anger and fear, often in a span of seconds. Featuring graphics that border on photorealism, not only is Heavy Rain extremely well-written, but all of your decisions can alter the story in unexpected ways. 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. It's also something that's been visually improved upon to drive the impact of each decision home, first on the PS4, and now on the PC, where the game plays out in stunning 4K. At these higher resolutions, it feels like you're interacting with, and even creating a suspenseful movie, one that will keep you engaged until the credits roll, and you discover there were other paths and choices you could've made along the way. You might even be surprised to find yourself starting the game over again immediately to see what you might've missed.

The controls, which take 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 have an effect based on what's happening at that moment, making the gameplay extremely unique compared to other games in its genre. Some sequences, such as fighting scenes, are timed, so players will have to press the button combinations correctly and in a timely manner to avoid consequences. 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Heavy Rain affected by the near photorealistic graphics that make the characters look like real people? Is the impact lessened because you know that this is a video game, regardless of how realistic it looks?

  • The controls of Heavy Rain, while a bit tricky, let the player interact with the world by pressing a button that matches an onscreen cue, but how is this different than most games?  Did this control system work for you? Did it make the game harder?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrilers

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