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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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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?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: June 24, 2019
- Genre: Adventure
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs
For kids who love thrilers
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.