No, we’re not talking about the weather: Heavy Rain was hailed as the best game of 2010 and is still one of the hottest games of 2011. This storm isn’t going away anytime soon, and for good reason. With its highly original and intriguing gameplay that closely resembles interactive fiction, Heavy Rain follows a gripping story in which, as in real life, your decisions have direct and subtle effects on how the events of your future unfold. It allows you to experience the nuances of reality in a virtual environment. Given that this is a serial killer, we should be grateful that it remains within the confines of the PlayStation 3.

Without revealing too much, the serial killer in question is the Origami Killer, whose weapon of choice is rain, hence the title Heavy Rain. He uses the rain to drown his victims and the objective of the four protagonists is to stop him. You take the perspective of each of these characters, and at different times, you will be presented with options. Depending on what you choose to do (or not do), what happens next will be different. Characters may not be present in the future due to your actions; characters can even die. There is not necessarily a game over. Rather, there are different results as a result of your performance as a player.

Video games have long eluded the presentation of true choice and free will, which is what makes Heavy Rain so groundbreaking. Until now, most video games have simply offered the “correct” option and the “incorrect” option, and usually the “correct” option is blatantly obvious. Consequently, the wrong decisions lead to the end of the game or the bad end, and the correct decisions lead to the good end or the best end. Games like these fail to capture the ambiguity of what free will really is – the right choices aren’t always obvious, and sometimes there isn’t even a right choice.

But eventually we have to choose, or not make a decision, and there will be different consequences that cannot easily be classified as better or worse. This is the three-dimensionality that video games haven’t quite achieved, even though they made the leap from 2D to 3D a long time ago. Heavy Rain brings the virtual world one step closer to ours, while preserving the fantasy of video games. If you are looking for a unique and innovative gaming getaway that provides “reality”, Heavy Rain is a great option.

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