story by Mike Gas

I am more than willing to lose myself to a game emotionally. I cried the first time I played The Last of Us and I was borderline sobbing at the end of Mother 3. I didn't cry because the writers of those games just wanted to make me "feel shit", the cry-worthy moments in those games came from nowhere. They were something I could not predict. I cried because they earned it. Heavy Rain telegraphs its emotional moments so clearly, I always felt more patronized than invested.

The game tries so hard to present itself as a grounded and gritty world, yet Ethan can drive 80mph against oncoming traffic, magically near-missing a collision with every car on the road because… he just loves his son that much? It’s a world in which a private eye just happens to walk in on a sexual assault, a burglary, and a suicidal single mother, back to back within the span of three days. Why? I guess Cage wants you to suppose he’s just having a shitty week.

“Why?” was a statement that constantly echoed in my mind playing Heavy Rain.

As I rapidly spun the left and right joysticks in circles to suppress a PTSD attack Ethan was having, I thought to myself: “Why?"

When I found myself playing as the only female character in the game forced to tastelessly press Cross, Circle, and Triangle in quick succession not to get raped (this is an actual scenario in the game I am not making this up), I thought to myself, "I wonder what Yu Suzuki, creator of Shenmue, and inventor of the Q.T.E. would think of this," and I again asked, "Why?"

I told myself, for the sake of credibility when writing about this game that I would see my second playthrough of this game, in English, the way Cage intended it, all the way through to the end. But I was beginning to feel like a prisoner, like a man quite literally caged within the mind of Cage. Despite Heavy Rain presenting me with such a wide array of multi-faceted choices, “dynamic” quick-time events, and endings, I never once felt like I was ever a part of the narrative.