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The Question of Heavy Rain

I’ve spent a bit of time with Heavy Rain again recently (ahead of the release of the Move patch next week, which I am mildly excited for) and I’ve been thinking more and more about its story. Sure, its over-dramatic but that isn’t what I’m going to write about. I’m going to write about the core, raw question this game asks of you: how far would you go to save someone you love?

Sure. Its one of the biggest hypothetical questions you can ever be asked in the world. But if you take the second to ask yourself, do you know how far you’d go? Ethan Mars demonstrates his lengths (if your Ethan Mars does) that he’d go through for his son. I think the key turning point as to how much you enjoy Heavy Rain is asking yourself if you’d do the same for your: son, daughter, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, best friend, etc. When you start asking yourself this question, the game will have you right where it wants you. Obviously not everyone can get to this point in a game, and its understandable. However, if you do then suddenly the choices become that much more important to you. Its easy to sit back and make the choices as a third party, but submerging yourself and becoming a core part of the experience suddenly changes everything.

Would you kill someone if it led to you saving the one you love? Would you drink that poison in the Rat Trial if it led to the same outcome? Such questions shake the foundations of our morality and test whether our love is ready to defy them. Your Ethan Mars can go either way, the story wants him to push himself though. The game wants him to do these things for Shaun. Obviously the choice still lies with you, considering the consequences of the actions he performs you would be forgiven for not doing some of the trials. But if you won’t fight this hard for something as real as love, then what would you do it for? Or wouldn’t you do it at all?

Inside the over-dramatic, and probably far too moody, exterior that is Heavy Rain the raw question is alive and actively testing you. The game puts you in several other positions as well. Would you do whatever you could to clear a man you believed to be innocent? Or would you follow your job and bring him to ‘justice’? Would you help a stranger, who you don’t even know? I’m not focusing on those other questions, but they are there. The character of Ethan Mars is desperately clinging onto the last thing that he has. The last emotion he doesn’t completely deject. His first son dead. His wife having left him. Shaun is all he has, and he will do anything to get him back. Its probably hard for some people to put themselves in his shoes, but this is the purpose that the prologue fulfilled (besides being a control tutorial). It showed you this man, loving wife, two kids, career, he had everything. His life was figured out. But as soon as one piece of that puzzle was taken out of the equation, the rest all collapsed in upon itself. Leaving Ethan Mars a broken man.

But at the same time, he has Shaun still. He feels as though he hates him, and again you can play your part here and make him hate you. Or you can have it so Shaun is there for Ethan. Which further spurs Ethan to complete the trials set out to him by the Origami Killer. Love drives him. I’m sure everyone at some point in their life has felt love driving them as well. Love overpowers all common sense and all potential negatives. Some may see it as blindness, but it is also possible they haven’t experienced it.

Heavy Rain, as a game, was pretty important to showcasing just how down-to-earth a serious game can be (you know, no mystical or fantasy stuff, no sci-fi stuff [Except ARI of course]). But Heavy Rain, as a story, is something that often divided critics, understandably as well. There are some gaping plot-holes littered through and sometimes the whole thing comes off as being way too melodramatic. But the game features such raw emotion that you’ll rarely find anywhere else in gaming at the moment. For that it is commendable.

Like I said. Its a huge hypothetical question to ask yourself, so you can disregard this entire piece if you want to look at it that way. But if you can even stop for a second, and consider what the most special people in the world mean to you, then you will be a better person for it. You don’t want to reach the end, and lose what you most valued. Its a painful realisation.

How far would you go to save someone you love?

Note: This blog is probably a wank of a piece. But I don’t care. I’ll be doing more of this sort of stuff I think.

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