Heavy Rain Screenshot

When I was writing my Heavy Rain review, there were a lot of specific things concerning the plot that I wanted to talk about, but couldn't due to the spoilerness. So those qualms are going to go here, safely hidden behind that big bold spoiler warning you see below. So, shall we?

[WARNING: THE REST OF THIS POST CONTAINS HEAVY RAIN SPOILERS]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. I really, really did not buy Scott as the murderer

Nothing Scott does leading up to the reveal makes sense with him being the killer. Why is he "investigating" anything? Is he just taking stock of his victims? And why does he even consider taking Lauren with him? Is he just reveling in her pain? And why did he bother calling the police after he kills the antique shop owner? None of Scott's thoughts make sense with him being a cold-blooded murderer either. He's awfully concerned about Lauren's safety for the guy who drowned her son.

Granted, Scott is supposed to be crazy, but at least make it seem like he was taking stock of his work or something (in retrospect after the reveal) when he meets all the victims. Making Scott the killer just seemed like a really cheap way to work a totally unseen twist in. After the reveal my opinion of the game went waaaay down and continued to do so when these questions started popping up.

2. Why doesn't Ethan give the box to the police right away?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but did Ethan ever get a message with the box telling him to do everything alone? I never saw it, and nobody else that I asked about it did either. So why is Ethan dead set on completing all the trials alone? There's no apparent restriction on getting help. In my game, Ethan got caught after the lizard trial, and the whole time he was being interrogated I was yelling TELL THEM ABOUT THE BOX at the TV. Jayden could probably just use his scanner thing on it and find Shaun in like two hours.

Heavy Rain Screenshot

Hey Ethan! I found it! It's under the floorboard! You don't have to—HOLY SHIT

And if that didn't work, the police could just investigate all of the trial sites at the same time without having to do them in order, and since the video chips were all nearby they probably would've found them fairly quickly. They definitely could've found the one in the car in no time (how hard can it be to smash open a glove compartment?), and they could've just had the power plant shut down temporarily, so then we don't have to deal with all that transformer shit. Jayden could've found the third one in no time without anyone losing a finger or anything. I chickened out for the fourth trial where I was supposed to kill the drug dealer, but I imagine that one was close by too. And the on the last trial they could've looked at the "poison" and figured out that it wasn't poison at all, and even if they couldn't I only got one freaking letter for that anyway.

(pant….pant) So anyway, while I thought the individual trials themselves were well done for the most part, the setup for them was extremely weak.

3. Why is Madison in this game?

Madison's involvement in the plot never really sat well with me. She's the only main character with no real connection with the killer, and it almost feels like she's only in the game to have that stupid strip scene in the night club. For almost every single scene she has in the hotel with Ethan, I found myself asking, why is she still here? What does she care about some random guy that keeps getting injured? Why is there medicine in the bathroom of the hotel? Is it complimentary? Is this hotel meant for people on sadistic quests that they can't tell anyone about?

Honestly I felt that it would've been more appropriate if Madison had been replaced with Grace (Shaun's mother) since she's much more connected to Shaun's disappearance than Madison would ever be. On top of that, the ordeal of trying to find him would be a avenue for potentially rekindling their relationship, as opposed to the awkward, inexplicable infatuation Madison develops with Ethan. Speaking of Grace…

4. Where the hell is Grace during all of this?

I actually thought Grace was the killer for most of the game simply because of her conspicuous absence. She went through the same emotional trauma that Ethan did in regards to losing their kids, so if people suspect Ethan to be the killer then it would be natural for them to suspect her too, right? But instead she's just…gone. Even at the end (I got the "happy" ending where everyone survived) when Ethan saves Shaun she's still nowhere to be seen. I find kind of hard to believe that the kid's mom wouldn't insist on being involved with what was going on every step of the way, especially after losing one son just two years earlier. Hell, they were willing to throw Lauren into the mix, so why not Grace too?

5. What was up with the Origami in Ethan's hand after his blackouts?

The single most inexplicable thing in the whole game. This was something really central to the beginning when the game is trying to convince the player that Ethan is the killer, but I never saw an explanation. There's no way Scott could've known about Ethan's blackouts, right? So how did he keep ending up on that street with the Origami in his hand? He said himself that he doesn't know how to do origami, so where did it come from? I mean, we're talking Battlestar Galactica series finale level of plot hole here.

So there we have it. What we have here is a story driven game with a bad story, which is an instant recipe for disaster. This GamesRadar post does a great job of summing up a lot of the plot holes as well-probably better than my rantings at any rate. So, am I alone here? Were there explanations to all this stuff that I just missed? Let me know how dumb I am if there are.

Richard Naik

Richard Naik

Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Richard received his first console (the NES) at the age of six, and from that point on games have been an integral part of his life, whether it's been frittering summers away with the likes of Mario, Mega Man, and the Zerg or partaking in marathon sessions of Halo, Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead. After being a longtime reader of GameCritics, Richard joined the staff in March of 2009, and over the years Richard grew into the more prominent role of part-time podcast host.

In 2016, he spearheaded a complete rebuild of the GameCritics.com website, earning him the title of Chief Engineer.

His gaming interests are fairly eclectic, ranging from 2D platformers to old-school-style adventure games to RPGs to first-person shooters. So in other words, he’ll play pretty much anything.
Richard Naik

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31 Comments on "A gaggle of WTFs: Heavy Rain’s story"

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Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 4 months ago
There’s no poison that will kill you in precisely 60 minutes. Though Ethan didn’t know it, it had to be a dud. For Scott, the poison was a symbol: would Ethan sacrifice himself to save his son? After Ethan proved himself, Scott was going to shoot him, almost certainly let Shaun drown, and disappear. That part made sense to me. The only way it could’ve made more sense is if Shelby had shot him in the front of the head, point-blank, to make it look forensically like suicide. As for your first point, I do agree, it’s disappointing there were… Read more »
Elisha
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Elisha
6 years 4 months ago

I didn’t chicken out on the fourth trial, I shot him. I felt bad but I was immersed and determined. Yet, when I finished the game I got the good ending… and no one ever arrested Ethan for murdering someone?! How did nobody find out about that?! Did Ethan plead self defense or something? What’s going on in this universe?

I’m also curious if anyone can tell me why Scott let Ethan drink fake poison but then was about to shoot him when his back was turned.

Shane
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Shane
6 years 5 months ago

There is nothing abstract about heavy rain aside from Nathan’s maybe dream sequence and some unclear motivations.

I would say you are confusing ambiguity with plot holes which were unable to be fixed due to the being far into production. It happens with story driven games.

p.s. 2001 was actually a large box office success when it was first released in cinemas. That is a fact, well before it gained cult status.

Fuchal
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6 years 5 months ago
[quote=RandomRob]I played it through twice, and cutting off or not cutting off the finger made no difference. And that wasn’t the only ‘choice’ that had no impact on the story.[/quote] Sorry, but you are just flat our wrong. There is a difference in how the game can end depending on what you do in that challenge, AND in relation to its other challenges. It impacts whether Ethan ends up finding the end location. Please understand I am not disputing your enjoyment of the game (“misery simulator”), or weather you felt you were “short changed”. I am merely disputing your claim… Read more »
goatart
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goatart
6 years 5 months ago
agree that it’s not the best comparison to HR. But speaking about 2001 alone, it’s wild that the film seems so cut and dry to you, or that you’re convinced that it being cut and dry to you somehow seems to mean that it can’t be cut and dry in a completely different way to someone else. While it can be read as how you put it a critique/analysis of the technological tennis match the US was having with the USSR at the time (cinema verite is a pretty problematic term regarding 2001, not sure what definition of it you… Read more »
RandomRob
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RandomRob
6 years 5 months ago
I brought up the 50$ question to illustrate that Quantic Dream shortchanged me on this game. I can tolerate loose ends and Lars Von Trier subtexts all day, provided the game offers me more than one ending. And yes, I know there are multiple endings, but they’re fragments of an incomplete whole. The whole games is made of fragments of an incomplete whole. With only one murderer possible, it should not have been a big deal to tie up the loose ends. You can call loose ends and bad writing art. And I can sum up 2001 in 3 sentences.… Read more »
coyls3
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coyls3
6 years 5 months ago

[quote=RandomRob]2001 gets confused with ‘art’ alot. But there’s no hidden meanings in it. The Monolith accelerates evolution. Dave Bowman’s journey is of the ideal human who will battle the thinking machine (ie-the ultimate of tool-using man’s creations, the golem) to reach the Monolith and evolve.

The story is self-consistent with it’s own logic. There’s no weird loose ends in it or characters who violate their own motivations. [/quote]

just because something has hidden meaning or not doesn’t mean it’s not art.

art is anything created by man and the techniques he use to create it.

goatart
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goatart
6 years 5 months ago

this is why i like the site…should of put true objective in quotations.

Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
6 years 5 months ago
[quote=goatart]You then shift the question more directly to “is the game worth $50” which, while I understand that answering this question is the true objective of a review…what I find fascinating about this site is that often case this doesn’t feel like the overall goal…and it certainly hasn’t been the goal of the comments being made regarding this post…[/quote] While this comment wasn’t directed at me, I will say that for the game review philosophy of the site is not to say whether or not a game is worth your time or x amount of money. On our About Us… Read more »
RandomRob
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RandomRob
6 years 5 months ago

I played it through twice, and cutting off or not cutting off the finger made no difference. And that wasn’t the only ‘choice’ that had no impact on the story. Like I said earlier, I don’t consider Heavy Rain a ‘game’. It’s a misery simulator. I don’t think it’s worth anything more than a rental. Try to understand, I loved Indigo Prophecy, and wanted to love this game, and bought the hype, but everything fell apart after I played it once.

goatart
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goatart
6 years 5 months ago
although that reading of 2001 is valid, to think that the film could be summed up in three sentences is absurd. And while I understand that there are no “loose” ends in terms of the logic it presents, it is pretty clear (ha) that 2001 is far from clear cut…In terms of HR, numerous commenters here have provided reasonable readings that demonstrate there are no loose ends in it either (or that its loose ends work toward the game’s logic). That you don’t agree is one thing, but to “state” what 2001 is as if absolutely no ambiguity exists (or… Read more »
Fuchal
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6 years 5 months ago
[quote=RandomRob]So would you recommend a person throw down 50$ to play it once?[/quote] No, I would recommend them to throw down $50 to play it several times and read it several ways. However from the earlier post you made, [quote=RandomRob]Why is it so unnerving to cut off Ethan’s finger- because YOU’re doing it, and you have no choice. That’s unique. A no-win situation… but all videogames ARE is situations where you’re lulled into thinking you’re controlling a situation, but really aren’t.[/quote] … I can see that you have only played the game once, or at the very least have only… Read more »
RandomRob
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RandomRob
6 years 5 months ago

So would you recommend a person throw down 50$ to play it once?

Andrew
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Andrew
6 years 5 months ago
[quote=RandomRob]Perhaps THINKING about Heavy Rain is a problem in itself. It’s a misery simulator, pretending to be a mystery. It’s pretending because it can’t handle the scripting problems it creates. It’s lazy story design with lazy game design. It’s a lazy critique to call it art, and imply people are too stupid to understand it if they don’t like it. A bad game can have moments that are unique as entertainment, it’s not hard. The Metal Gear games have been doing these “breaking the fourth wall” gimmicks for ages, it doesn’t make it art. Why is it so unnerving to… Read more »
RandomRob
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RandomRob
6 years 5 months ago

2001 gets confused with ‘art’ alot. But there’s no hidden meanings in it. The Monolith accelerates evolution. Dave Bowman’s journey is of the ideal human who will battle the thinking machine (ie-the ultimate of tool-using man’s creations, the golem) to reach the Monolith and evolve.

The story is self-consistent with it’s own logic. There’s no weird loose ends in it or characters who violate their own motivations.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
6 years 5 months ago

yeah, I remember upon watching 2001: A Space Odyssey I really wished they had explained the obelisks completely… removed the ability to question it and totally spoon fed the plot…

Shane
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Shane
6 years 5 months ago
I have read an interview with David saying all the characters have deep back story that he wrote that go way before the game begins so the characters definitely have motivation, whether he shows it or not. He also said indirectly that things could not be changed due to the voice recording, acting and motion capture all being done and even if they noticed say the 5 points you mentioned there was no way they could afford to rewrite the game, get new motion capture and so on. An author of a film screenplay has a luxury that maybe David… Read more »
Sean Riley
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Sean Riley
6 years 5 months ago

While I have not played Heavy Rain (once The Last Guardian finally forced me to buy a PS3, I’ll grab it) I will note this: Consider the treatment of Carla Valenti in Farenheit. She gets a nude shower scene, and is forced into a really uncomfortable and implausible romance with Lucas.

David Cage has a history of wanting to get hot naked chicks in his games, and a history of having a tin ear for romance stories.

Just sayin’.

Zolos
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Zolos
6 years 5 months ago

[quote=RandomRob]Anyway, people can blow hot & cold all day about Heavy Rain. I personally decline to call it a game. [/quote]

Yeah, that’s where i am undecided on HR despite of how much i liked it. Still thinking about this a lot.

RandomRob
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RandomRob
6 years 5 months ago
Perhaps THINKING about Heavy Rain is a problem in itself. It’s a misery simulator, pretending to be a mystery. It’s pretending because it can’t handle the scripting problems it creates. It’s lazy story design with lazy game design. It’s a lazy critique to call it art, and imply people are too stupid to understand it if they don’t like it. A bad game can have moments that are unique as entertainment, it’s not hard. The Metal Gear games have been doing these “breaking the fourth wall” gimmicks for ages, it doesn’t make it art. Why is it so unnerving to… Read more »
Richard Naik
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Richard Naik
6 years 5 months ago
[quote=Andrew]All your rhetorical questions are not rhetorical. People here, and elsewhere, can and will answer them, as did Cage in the linked interview.[/quote] I didn’t intend for any of those questions to be purely rhetorical. I was asking if anyone else had seen something that refuted anything I had a problem with. I did get a lot of answers, and for that I’m grateful, but I didn’t see anything that would cause me to write off any of those points. [quote=Andrew]That it was a conscious choice to not explain, to create potentiality and draw our curiosity, is, I think, a… Read more »
Andrew
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Andrew
6 years 5 months ago
Cage’s responses are really fascinating. I think the one incorrect way to read them is that he is covering his ass. Cage knew this story backwards to front, and he is one of the most self-deprecating game developers I’ve ever seen interviewed. If he forgot to explain the figures, or if he failed to, he would admit it. That it was a conscious choice to not explain, to create potentiality and draw our curiosity, is, I think, a great microcosm on his approach to Heavy Rain. The game notably avoids massive exposition. The gravedigger and Mrs. Shepherd reveal some backstory,… Read more »
goatart
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goatart
6 years 5 months ago
oh i know richard, the question wasn’t so much directed at you as me just venting. That’s the beauty of everything. It’s make or break for you, where as for me when it comes to art/entertainment I’d rather leap all day than walk across a conveniently built bridge. Story, narrative justification, stuff doesn’t matter to me. I was raised on Bunuel and Tzara. It seems to me videogames are the perfect medium for completely fucking with our notions of “story,” since their ability to tell the conventional story is never gonna be on par with film/literature/poetry/theatre, etc…and even if it… Read more »
Richard Naik
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Richard Naik
6 years 5 months ago
[quote=goatart]Is it really impossible to make the leap (which the best films demand of us) that Ethan wouldn’t want to involve the cops out of fear of the situation, and that this wouldn’t have to be written in bold letters by the killer JUST to narratively justify why he doesn’t?[/quote] In my view, yes it is. Especially considering that narratively justifying it would have been so easy. One thought or one line of text and the problem is completely solved. Had this been the only leap or one of few leaps I could have dealt with it. However, there are… Read more »
goatart
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goatart
6 years 5 months ago
eh, was gonna write something a lot longer again…but I’ll just say that it baffles me that the deal breaker for you with points 1 and 2 are that no hint/explanation is given, as if you aren’t willing to give any credit to the events that occur unless every little thing is explained. Is it really impossible to make the leap (which the best films demand of us) that Ethan wouldn’t want to involve the cops out of fear of the situation, and that this wouldn’t have to be written in bold letters by the killer JUST to narratively justify… Read more »
ckzatwork
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ckzatwork
6 years 5 months ago

Honestly, I’m beginning to think that a conventional game reviewer is not the most competent person to evaluate a title like HR. A cinema or music one will have a better understanding of the nuances related to interpretation and composition. We need interdisciplinary knowledge here.

Richard Naik
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Richard Naik
6 years 5 months ago

@Lazaro Cruz

Yeah, I can’t say I buy that. Having an aura of mystery around something can work great (see: Shepard Book in Firefly) but here it’s just like “…wha?”

Lazaro Cruz
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Lazaro Cruz
6 years 5 months ago
I’m not sure if you guys have seen it but Joystiq interviews David Cage and asked about a lot of the plot holes. Thought you guys would be interested in Cage’s own response to Ethan waking up with an Origami in his hand. (The full interview is at http://www.joystiq.com/2010/03/19/interview-spoiling-heavy-rain-with-david-cage/) *** JOYSTIQ: How about the Origami figure in Ethan’s hand when he wakes up? I can’t explain that. Daivd Cage: I can. [laughs] J: Would you like to explain it to me? Cage: Uh … no. J: … Okay. Cage: Actually, no, because this is what Hitchcock calls a MacGuffin. He… Read more »
ckzatwork
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ckzatwork
6 years 5 months ago

Richard,

Even Lauren understood his motivations 😀 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw-hHjJYKOA

Richard Naik
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Richard Naik
6 years 5 months ago
@ckzatwork 1-Maybe, but nothing like that is ever made apparent. The only clues we get into his motivations are his daddy problems. I’d be willing to accept split personality more so than the explanation they actually gave, but we never see any of that. 2-Again, it’s possible that in his (Ethan’s) state he wasn’t thinking rationally enough to call the police, but I never saw any inkling of that. This whole problem could have been resolved by putting the line “don’t call the police or Shaun dies” on the first note or having Ethan think “I can’t call the cops-he’ll… Read more »
ckzatwork
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ckzatwork
6 years 5 months ago
1 – As I’ve said before, it does seem like they where aiming for a multiple killers scenario. However, and I’ll be posting what I wrote on the forums, the Origami Killer could suffer from split personality, explaining his less natural and misleading thoughts. He’s on a personal trip, a fantasy world where his deranged superego tells him he is the good guy resolving a crime, when in fact he is just trying to recover all evidence of his criminal behavior. By fooling himself he also fools the player, and sometimes, he just snaps out of it. 2 – I… Read more »
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