Heavy Rain is an interactive action-adventure game with an emphasis on narrative and player choice. You play as one of four characters at a time, each with different backgrounds and motivations, to solve a murder mystery about the Origami Killer.
Pro Each character you play as has their own believable history
All four playable characters have believable backstories and motivations. You initially play as a father trying to keep his family together after a great loss, and then a private investigator working to find clues about the game's Origami Killer, a cop struggling with a drug addiction while on the job, and finally a journalist dealing with insomnia while chasing after leads for stories.
Everyone, if kept alive by the player, ends up meeting each other in some form as their individual stories intertwine throughout the plot. It's a realistic and grounded approach that still manages to provide plenty of twists and turns as you learn more about the characters.
Pro Great soundtrack that hits the right emotional notes
Heavy Rain's soundtrack fits well with the game's dramatic and emotional plot. The quiet, sorrowful piano songs reflect some of the characters' moments of loss. Other, more powerful tracks with blaring brass instruments compliment the action-heavy moments. The thoughtful, slow-moving pieces set the tone for all the mystery surrounding the Origami Killer and how careful everyone has to be while investigating them. The composer Normand Corbeil hit the right tone for any given scene, making the story even more memorable.
Pro Your choices have a big impact on the murder mystery story
Each choice you make, no matter how small, affects how the story plays out in some way. There are the bigger decisions, like pressing a QTE in time to keep your character from dying, or making the right dialog choices during encounters with the game's mysterious Origami Killer in order to outsmart them. But there are also smaller decisions, like taking care of a pet or choosing to spend time with one of the character's sons, and the unexpected ways these choices get taken into account down the line. The best part is that everything leads up to multiple endings depending on which path your choices take you.
Pro Plenty of tense and exciting action moments
Even though the game is like an interactive movie, there are still some action scenes with more involved gameplay. There are moments where you're attacked by an antagonist and have to escape, or you have to navigate a dangerous road, or your senses are impaired and you have to try to keep yourself together in a pinch. You then have to press buttons in time or navigate your analog sticks in certain ways to stay in control of the scene. The game does rely a lot on button presses with QTEs to keep you involved in the gameplay, but as long as you feel engrossed in the game and the overall plot, you probably won't mind too much.
Con The multiple endings aren't all that different
Despite the amount of multiple endings, none of them fundamentally change the outcome of the story. They are mostly some type of fail state where you don't figure out who the Origami Killer is, or where you do figure out who it is but you don't manage to stop them. There is also a happy ending where everything works out, but it just seems like there should have been more types of endings, considering the sheer amount of decisions you get to make across the story.
Con The harder difficulties are more frustrating than challenging
Increasing the difficulty in Heavy Rain is supposed to give you a harder experience, but it only ends up being more frustrating than anything. All it does is increase the difficulty of the QTE sequences, like during action scenes, by making them more convoluted. They essentially force you to move your hands in unnatural and uncomfortable ways to reach all of the buttons. During tense moments where you have to react quickly, this might end up making you rage if you miss the correct inputs. It's a bad design decision.