‘Heavy Rain & Beyond Two Souls Collection’ Review
Platform PlayStation 4 Genre Interactive-Drama, Action Adventure
Developer Quantic Dream Publisher Sony Computer Entertainment
The Heavy Rain & Beyond Two Souls Collection brings both of developer Quantic Dream’s PlayStation 3 releases to PlayStation 4. Both remastered games contain improved visuals, but mostly leave the gameplay of the initial release in-tact. Though the collection has some hit or miss moments, it compiles two of the PlayStation 3’s most memorable and unique adventures together in one convenient package.
Heavy Rain follows the mystery of the Origami Killer, a serial murderer who targets children, drowning them in rainwater. Players take control of four different characters throughout the story, with each individual coping with their own problems and their own unique storyline; with all four stories interweaving throughout the campaign. All four main characters are likeable in their own ways, from Ethan Mars, a courageous father looking to correct past mistakes; Madison Paige, a brave journalist with a heart of gold; Norman Jayden, an FBI agent who will risk everything to save the latest victim; and Scott Shelby, a private investigator looking to find the killer on his own terms. Unfortunately the final reveal of the Origami Killer feels odd and hard to believe, the intensely driven journey makes up for the lackluster reveal. Heavy Rain’s powerful narrative is made even better due to the strength of these four characters, since you never know when one of your favourites could be killed.
That uncertainty of character survival helps elevate Heavy Rain’s narrative to new levels, as one wrong move could get your character killed – literally. Heavy Rain does contain choices the player can make, but I personally found the consequences of mistakes are where Heavy Rain truly delivers. During action sequences if you are unable to succeed at the fast paced quick time event gameplay, your character could die and it will be entirely because of your mistake. During my initial playthrough some years ago my own mistakes cost the life of my favourite character, fast forward to 2016 and once again (during a different sequence this time) my favourite character perished due to my failure. Though I may hate myself for causing their death twice, I do appreciate just how memorable these instances can be and how only few games can truly deliver such personal and shocking moments.
Heavy Rain has an alternative walking practice to Beyond Two Souls, but unfortunately this walking feature feels clunky and obtrusive in completely different ways. Walking in Heavy Rain is done by holding R2 and then directing your character, while changing the pre-set positioning of the camera is done using L1. This method of character movement and the pre-set positioning of the camera feel archaic in 2016, as the clunky juggling act can make some walking scenes frustratingly difficult.
Fortunately Heavy Rain’s action sequences still feel as ground-breaking as they once were. These action moments remove the over-the-top spectacle most games produce, instead focusing on a grounded and gritty intensity that few games can match. These action scenes will keep you on the edge of your seat with your heart racing, due to the expertly placed camera and sheer anxiety of possibly making a mistake that leads to your characters untimely demise.
Heavy Rain’s release on PlayStation 4 improves the visuals, lighting and shadows of the original release – and it shows. Heavy Rain on PlayStation 4 doesn’t reach the level of Beyond Two Souls visually, but it is a much needed improvement over the original release. The torrential rainfall that is present throughout almost every outdoor scene in Heavy Rain looks fantastic, with raindrops landing on characters face and soaking their clothes during scenes. The facial details of each character also benefit from the graphical update with emotional reactions, facial blemishes, and the general added detail on each model. Oddly enough the music in Heavy Rain at times can completely drown out dialogue, which is a weird issue that I cannot remember experiencing in the original release. My advice would be to turn subtitles on if you do not want to miss out on any of the dialogue throughout the campaign.
Heavy Rain is one of those genre defining experiences that still (for the most part) holds up six years after the initial release. Heavy Rain’s narrative is still one of the most thrilling mysteries I have ever experienced throughout my gaming life, which still produces a plethora of memorable and intense moments time after time. If somehow you have never played Heavy Rain, do yourself a favour and enjoy this instant classic.
Beyond Two Souls
Beyond Two Souls was one of the best looking games on the PlayStation 3. Launching late in the console generation Quantic Dream squeezed a lot of visual brilliance out of Sony’s last generation console. Speeding through a rainy forest on a stolen motorcycle, as the night sky literally rains from above looks absolutely amazing, as well as the wonderful emotional performances captured on each characters face. Due to the visual excellence of the original release, Beyond Two Souls’ visual upgrades don’t make much difference; which is a testament to the visual excellence of the original PlayStation 3 release. Beyond Two Souls on PlayStation 4 is certainly the best visual representation of the experience, but even with the enhanced 1080p visuals and improved lighting, Beyond Two Souls doesn’t take a huge graphical leap from the original.
Beyond Two Souls follows the story of Jodie Holmes, a young girl who was born with a unique link to an unknown entity named Aiden. Beyond allows players to experience Jodie’s life from all different ages, meaning you will play as Jodie when she was a child playing with dolls, to a young woman getting ready for a romantic date. In the original release Beyond Two Souls randomly jumps to different points of time in Jodie’s life, and this unnatural experience meant it was easy to lose track of situations and when they took place in the timeline. Fortunately Beyond Two Souls on PlayStation 4 allows you to player the story in chronological order (aside from a few chapters) and the narrative is benefits from this addition.
That doesn’t mean the original issues with Beyond Two Souls’ story are fixed, the CIA plot still feels oddly out of place, and the desert sequence still feels like extended filler. But experiencing this narrative chronologically allows for a much better narrative experience; even if the narrative doesn’t succeed 100% of the time. Beyond is at its best when we see Jodie during her most playful and vulnerable moments. I loved getting ready for Jodie’s first date or her time as a child trying to play with other kids. These are the moments where Beyond feels real, and that is when it truly succeeds at producing a memorable and emotional adventure.
Another main issue with Beyond Two Souls is its choice system; with many of the choices you make being made irrelevant because the plot demands it. There will be many choices you make where will Beyond completely discredit what you want due to the fact this plot point needs to happen, which is certainly disappointing. The PlayStation 4 version does add the new function of being able to see how your major choices compare to the rest of the community, with percentages showcased upon each chapter completion. This new addition also showcases possible choices and events you may have missed, which typically encouraged me to want to re-experience each chapter to see how I could tackle each situation differently.
Aside from the visual improvements, there have not been many improvements made to the actual gameplay issues from the original release. Walking and trying to make subtle changes in direction still feels clunky, the camera randomly has a mind of its own and despite the remaster boasting improved combat controls they still feel inconsistent and hard to comprehend. Beyond Two Souls implements a combat system where players must push their analog stick in certain directions to parry and attack, but like the original release it’s extremely hard to tell if you are expected to parry or attack in most situations. Unfortunately if like me you found combat situations in the original felt awkward and lackluster, nothing in the PlayStation 4 release fixes these issues.
Beyond Two Souls on PlayStation 4 also includes the Advanced Experiments DLC, which unfortunately is not a story based addition. Advanced Experiments places Jodie Holmes in an obstacle course, where she must work together with Aiden to complete course in less than 30 minutes. The puzzles contained in the obstacle course are fun additions, but honestly many other cooperative puzzles have delivered better challenges in similar fashion. Not only that, but the entire package can be beaten in less than 15 minutes, making this DLC ridiculously short. Also it is brutally obvious Quantic Dream couldn’t bring Ellen Page back to reprise her role in the DLC, as Jodie blankly stares silently as her instructor explains the course.
Beyond Two Souls isn’t Quantic Dream’s best product, but it certainly has some enjoyable moments and some amazing acting performances by Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. The PlayStation 4 version may not improve the larger issues of the original, but it is certainly the best place to experience the story of Jodie Holmes.
Heavy Rain still offers a gripping story, with severe consequences for your mistakes. While the story of Beyond Two Souls may suffer from inconsistencies and the illusion of choice, the performances and improved chronological order definitely make Beyond Two Souls on PlayStation 4 worthy of experiencing at least once.
Heavy Rain greatly benefits from the next generation graphical upgrade, while Beyond Two Souls does look better, the visual beauty of the initial release didn’t leave much room for improvement. Aside from visual improvements not much has else been done to improve either release, with the initial problems of both games still unfortunately existing on PlayStation 4.
The Heavy Rain & Beyond Two Souls Collection is a great purchase for those who have never played either of this unique adventures before. For those who are not interested in both games, it’s also worth noting each game is also available to purchase separately on the PlayStation Network.
Heavy Rain – Still one of the best drama stories in gaming.
Heavy Rain – Intense action sequences.
Heavy Rain – Much needed visual update.
Beyond Two Souls – Play the story chronologically.
Beyond Two Souls – Amazing acting performances.
Both games suffer from two completely different, but completely clunky and awkward walking methods.
Beyond Two Souls – Disjointed story.
Beyond Two Souls – Choices are disregarded.
Beyond Two Souls – Action sequences still suffer from same inconsistencies as initial release.
The Score: 7.8
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