Back in 2010, David Cage’s Quantic Dream graced our PS3 consoles with the heavily (no pun intended) emotional, story-driven, cinematic experience that is Heavy Rain, which David Cage billed as an “Interactive Drama”.  Despite its rather clunky gameplay and its focus on QTE’s, it went down as one of the consoles finest games and one of my personal all-time favourites. Then in 2013, we had Beyond: Two Souls, a game in a similar vein with slightly less clunky controls with an all-star cast that included Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.  In-fact I reviewed Beyond: Two Souls in 2013 and despite some issues, back then I scored it a 9.0 as it gave me an emotional gaming experience that I had not felt since, well, Heavy Rain.  Let’s fast forward to 2016 with the release of the Heavy Rain & Beyond: Two Souls Collection for the PlayStation 4.  How do these games differ from their original form and do they warrant a re-investment of your time and money? (assuming if like me, you’re a returning fan).  It’s fair to say that both games are much like Marmite, you’ll either love them or hate them.  So, seeing as Heavy Rain graced our PS3 consoles first, it seems only right that I begin with this classic.

Without giving spoilers away, Heavy Rain tells the story of the Origami Killer, as you take control of four protagonists with each of their stories cleverly entwining to one epic conclusion.  We have Scott Shelby, a former police officer turned private investigator hired to solve the case of the Origami Killer.  Norman Jayden, an FBI profiler struggling with an addiction to a drug known as Triptocaine is sent from Washington to aid with the local police force’s investigation on the Origami Killer.  Madison Paige, a photojournalist who suffers from chronic insomnia who just so happens to cross paths and forms a relationship with our main protagonist, Ethan Mars.  Ethan Mars is a man that is going through a marriage separation following the death of their eldest son Jason.  Ethan’s torment never ends, as his only remaining son Shaun is seemingly taken by the Origami Killer and is put through tormenting trials to earn the right to save his son.  “How far will you go to save someone you love?

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In Beyond: Two Souls you play as Jodie Holmes, who some say she was born with a gift, a supernatural entity known as Aiden.  However, while others see Aiden as a gift, Jodie may see her life being a curse.  Raised on a military compound, Jodie was never destined to live a “normal” life and she realises that life is never going to be that simple for a girl such as her. She struggles to contain her powers, while others wish to exploit it, but the impact she makes on others will be life changing.  But once Pandora’s box is open, it can never be closed again.

Nostalgic memory often plays tricks on the games that you love and it’s not until you go back into a game that you realise there not quite as glamourous as you quite remember.  Heavy Rain remains to this very day, one of the best looking games on the PS3 and makes me question how much improvement can be made to the games visuals, even on the new-gen systems.  However, Heavy Rain on the PS4 console comes with its crisp 1080p visuals that still looks stunning with its new makeover and runs smoothly at 30fps, well most of the time, but more on that later.  There are times where some of the environmental textures do look a little dated close-up, but visually it more than holds its own with its superb facial animations, even though the characters do tend to gurn from time to time.

 

One area that doesn’t quite fair well is how the game handles.  While the QTE’s still work great even today with their responsiveness, they never feel overused and feel like they do have their purpose for each and every scene.  However, using the R2 button to walk feels very dated, especially if you’ve played Beyond: Two Souls, where you simply use the analogue stick to walk.  This can get extra irritating from time to time with a sudden change of the camera, which can result in you walking back on yourself or into objects.  This was seen as a flaw for some back in 2010, so it would have been great to have seen its gameplay movement taking inspiration from the more recent Beyond: Two Souls in the 2016 remaster.

Beyond: Two Souls being the more recent game, perhaps hasn’t benefitted from its visual makeover quite as much as Heavy Rain, but it’s still a stunner.  The biggest improvement comes with the option of playing through the game in chronological order, which was not possible on the original PS3 release.  Naturally when I began my PS4 run, I choose to playthrough Jodie’s story in the new chronological order and I have to say that I prefer the original format.  Oddly during my PS3 venture, this was a feature I wanted to see implemented, but now I have gotten to play the game in its alternative order, the way in which chapters originally skipped to and from various stages of Jodie’s life, seemed somehow to tell her tale more effectively.  That at the end of the day is my personal preference and yours might differ from mine.

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The new version of Beyond: Two Souls also takes influence from the likes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead by showing you how the choices you made compare to other players at the end of each chapter.  It’s a shame that this feature wasn’t somehow implemented into Heavy Rain.  Both games also do well in offering you branching dialogue choices, with many scenarios having you question whether or not you’ve made the right choice and can ultimately affect the outcome of each game.  This factor in its own right offers added replay value should you choose to playthrough the games again to see how certain choices might affect the outcome.

Both games come with sublime soundtracks and with each game telling such emotional tales, this is a vital component for Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.  Having two consistent soundtracks should come as little surprise when knowing that they come from the BAFTA Award winning composer Normand Corbeil, who also worked on Quantic Dream’s Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy in 2005, hopefully we’ll see Corbeil return for the studio’s next PS4 project Detroit: Become Human.

However, one constant that each game doesn’t share is the quality of voice-acting.  Don’t get me wrong, most of the voice-acting in Heavy Rain is fine, but with it telling such a powerful story, it can be hard to look past some of the games plastic delivery from time to time, especially from a character called Lauren and even Ethan can lack real emotion, which is odd considering he’s going through such a traumatic ordeal.  Thankfully, this can easily be brushed aside, as it shouldn’t affect your immersion into its tale.  In comparison to Beyond: Two Souls, Heavy Rain does fall short in the quality of voice acting, but then any videogame or movie would struggle to compete with the calibre to the likes of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.

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Another issue that I have with Heavy Rain (and oddly only Heavy Rain) is that following its launch it suffered from an odd bug that would make the white text on the main menu and during the game flash like its having some kind of seizure. This plagued the game during its first week, but then thankfully it stopped.  But upon playing the game again this week, it has annoyingly returned and to make matters worse, when this flashing text bug occurs, Heavy Rain seems to have a severe drop in its framerate when in-game.  What’s even more peculiar about these issues is that I never noticed them occur on the original PS3 version and neither appear in the remastered Beyond: Two Souls.  So it seems this problem is exclusive to the PS4 version of Heavy Rain, how lucky we must feel!  Joking aside, I tweeted Quantic Dreams about the issue and they revealed an easy fix, which can be resolved by Restarting your PS4 console. I have my PS4 set on Rest Mode, but after selecting Restart with a console power-down, when I re-loaded Heavy Rain the issue was then fixed.

As I’ve previously mentioned, both Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls are very much like Marmite, you’re going to either love them or hate them.  For me its great re-visiting two of my favourite games from the last generation, more so with Heavy Rain being six years after its original release (despite some technical issues).  Quantic Dreams have overall done a good job in bringing these classics into the new era and as a returning player, its great seeing how things playout from another perspective of already knowing the conclusions, and some of these scenes are still among the most memorable in videogame history, especially in-regards to Heavy Rain.  Yet, if you’re a new player who missed these games on last-gen and can see past its clunky controls, you’re in for an emotional joyride that you will never likely to forget and also before I leave you, don’t forget to “Press X for Jason”.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake