Heavy Rain

This article is about the video game. For classifications of the quantity of rain, see Rain.
Heavy Rain

European box art
Developer(s) Quantic Dream
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s) David Cage[1]
Writer(s) David Cage[1]
Composer(s) Normand Corbeil[2]
Engine Havok
Platform(s) PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4[3]
Release date(s)

PlayStation 3‹See Tfd›

  • JP: 18 February 2010

‹See Tfd›

  • NA: 23 February 2010
  • EU: 24 February 2010
  • AUS: 25 February 2010

‹See Tfd›

  • UK: 26 February 2010

PlayStation 4‹See Tfd›

  • WW: 1 March 2016

‹See Tfd›

  • UK: 4 March 2016
Genre(s) Interactive drama,[4] action-adventure[5]
Mode(s) Single-player

Heavy Rain is an interactive drama action-adventure video game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for the PlayStation 3 in February 2010.

The game is a film noir thriller, featuring four diverse protagonists involved with the mystery of the Origami Killer, a serial killer who uses extended periods of rainfall to drown his victims. The player interacts with the game by performing actions highlighted on screen related to motions on the controller, and in some cases, performing a series of quick time events during fast-paced action sequences. The player's decisions and actions during the game will affect the narrative. The main characters can be killed, and certain actions may lead to different scenes and endings.

Heavy Rain was a critical and commercial success, winning multiple Game of the Year awards and selling over three million copies.[6] A film adaptation of the game is currently in development. A PlayStation 4 version, featuring improved graphics and resolution, was released as both a standalone title and in the Quantic Dream Collection with Beyond: Two Souls, in March 2016.


Heavy Rain is an action-adventure game, requiring the player to move the character and have him or her interact with the objects or other non-player characters on the scene to progress the story. The game is divided into several scenes, each centering on one of four playable characters. The choices the player makes or the actions performed or not performed will affect later scenes in the game. For example, it is possible that a character dies or becomes detained, and will not be present in a later scene.[7] There is no immediate "game over" in Heavy Rain; the game will progress to a number of different endings depending on the sum of the player's performance even if all the characters become incapacitated in some manner.[8] Once the game is complete, the player can return to earlier scenes and replay them, possibly altering the events as they play through other chapters.

Playing Heavy Rain with Move support

Within most scenes, the player can control the main character by moving them around the environment; they can also hold down a button to see what thoughts are going through the character's mind, and trigger them to hear an internal monologue on that thought. When the player is near an object or another character they can interact with, they will be presented with a context sensitive icon that represents what control they need to do. These controls include pressing a button on the DualShock controller, moving the analogue sticks in a specific manner, or rotating the motion-sensitive controller in a specific way; in the version with PlayStation Move support, further actions based on the Move controllers are also present. These actions may lead to additional actions to fully complete the interaction. Some scenes impose a timer on the player, requiring them to complete the necessary actions in time to avoid the death or incapacitation of that character. In other scenes, the player does not have full control of the character but must instead be prepared to respond to these icons in the manner of quick time events, such as during a hand-to-hand fight or while driving frantically on the wrong side of the road.

Additionally, the game includes a difficulty level functionality that the user can change through the menu at any point during the game. While adjusting the level will not alter the storyline of the game directly, a higher difficulty will influence the prompts, for example, requiring more inputs during sequences in order to avoid a failed action.



Further information: Madison Paige

There are four main playable characters. The player controls one character at a time, generally playing different characters in each chapter of the game. The characters were voiced, motion captured and modeled after several actors;[9] the three males are modeled after their voice actors, while the female is modeled after a professional model. Some chapters in the game have the players play as multiple characters.

GamesRadar praised the Origami Killer's role as an antagonist, putting them in their 2013 list of the best villains in video game history at number 42.[11] That same year, Madison was ranked as the 41st greatest heroine in video game history by Complex.[12]


The game's prologue opens with Ethan Mars, spending time with his family for his son Jason's 10th birthday. While at a busy mall, Jason wanders off and Ethan frantically searches for him, soon finding him outside on the street. Jason runs back to Ethan, unexpectedly into the path of an oncoming car. Ethan jumps out, trying to save Jason. However, the car crashes into Jason, killing him, while Ethan himself is injured and falls into a coma for six months. Two years after the accident, Ethan is suffering from severe depression, agoraphobia, and blackouts that last for several hours. He is estranged from his wife, and his remaining son, Shaun, is distant with him.[13] While at a park with Shaun, Ethan has another blackout, and wakes to find Shaun missing.

Shaun's disappearance is soon tied to the serial murders of the 'Origami Killer'. The criminal's modus operandi is to abduct a young boy during the rainy fall season, after which their bodies are found several days later in a remote location, drowning being the cause of death, along with an origami animal figure in their hands, and an orchid on their chest. FBI profiler Norman Jayden, having come to assist the police with the Origami Killer, concludes that the child is locked in a location where, after 6 inches of rainfall, their bodies will be completely submerged and they will die from drowning. They realize that they have less than three days to find Shaun.

Ethan retreats to a motel to avoid the media. He receives a letter that directs him to a locker, and finds a shoebox containing a mobile phone, a handgun, and five origami figures. The phone instructs him to complete a set of trials written on each origami figure to display the lengths he is prepared to go to in order to save Shaun, after which he will receive pieces of a street address. The trials present increasing risk as they proceed, from driving against traffic for five miles at a high speed, subjecting himself to physical pain and electrocution, cutting off part of his finger, killing a man, and drinking poison.[14] As he attempts these trials, he meets Madison Paige, a woman who suffers from chronic insomnia, who helps him to recover physically and emotionally from the trials. Madison begins her own investigation into who may have arranged the trials.

Jayden, working with Lieutenant Carter Blake, investigates two suspects, but comes up empty-handed. Ethan's ex-wife visits the police and informs them of Ethan's blackouts, which lead them to Ethan's psychiatrist. Blake is sure that Ethan is the Origami Killer, while Jayden continues to follow the trail of evidence to confirm otherwise. During these events, private investigator Scott Shelby begins visiting several of the victims' parents for information, and obtains several items that relate to the Origami Killer. One parent, Lauren Winter, insists on helping him, seeking closure on the matter. They are led astray by a wealthy playboy claiming to be the Killer, and are threatened off the case by his adversarial father.[14]


Towards the end of the game, the player takes control of a child in a flashback 34 years earlier, where he and his brother are playing on a construction site; the child's brother, John Sheppard, falls into a broken pipe and calls for help. When his twin brother finds him he is unable to pull him out because his foot has gotten stuck in the pipe. With the heavy rain and the pipe filled almost to the brim with water, John is in danger of drowning before his brother's eyes. The flashback ends at this time, with the player naturally assuming that John's brother is the Origami Killer. Later in the game another flashback reveals that John's brother ran to their father for help, but being drunk his father neither believed him nor cared, leaving the child to return without help and witness his brother slowly drowning. This is what shaped the Origami Killer into kidnapping young children and trying to get their fathers to save them. This brother is revealed to be Scott Shelby, formerly Scott Sheppard. Shelby's actions within the game are not as a private detective but as to recover items he had previously sent to the relatives of his victims as to eliminate these as evidence against him.

The final chapter of the game, The Old Warehouse, is essentially where the final verdict of the game is decided. Each of the three characters (Ethan, Madison and Norman) have different requirements for making it to the warehouse, saving Shaun and fighting the Origami Killer (Scott). There are a total of eight ways in which the events at the warehouse can unfold. For example, if Ethan goes alone, then he will save Shaun, kill or spare Scott, but will always get shot by the police if he exits. If all three characters make it, Ethan saves Shaun, Norman must fight the Origami Killer and Madison must warn Ethan of the oncoming police. After this chapter, five ending segments will occur; a news report, and then one ending for each character. A character's ending depends on multiple variables: whether the Origami Killer was apprehended, whether Shaun Mars was saved, and whether they lived or died. For example, the most satisfied ending shows Ethan, Madison and Shaun living happily together as a family, with Scott dead, Norman leaving the FBI and living a normal life and Lauren cursing at Scott's grave. The most tragic ending shows Ethan hanging himself in prison, with Madison, Shaun, Lauren, and Norman dead, and Scott getting away with everything.

Heavy Rain Chronicles

The Chronicles are prequel segments that take place during the initial murders of the Origami Killer. The first one, The Taxidermist was released on 1 April 2010 available for purchase from the PlayStation Network. It was also included with the original game when pre-purchased from selected retailers.[15] In July 2010, David Cage of Quantic Dream announced that the Chronicles downloadable content was put on indefinite hiatus due to Heavy Rain: Move Edition taking up the production time allocated to the Chronicles. Once the Move Edition development was completed, the team will go back to working on Chronicles or move on.[16][17] The original intention was for there to be four episodes which would focus on the main characters' backgrounds.[18]

The first and so far only episode, The Taxidermist follows Madison as she travels to visit Leland White, a taxidermist, to interview in connection with the Origami Killer. Finding his house empty, Madison breaks into the house and discovers an upstairs area containing several female corpses, stuffed and posed in various positions, including a freshly killed cadaver in a bathroom in connection to Leland White's Agalmatophilia fetish. After collecting information, Madison hears Leland's car return. From here the player's actions can lead to various endings – Madison can kill or be caught and killed by Leland, she can manage to escape from the house, or she can manage to call the police and hide until they arrive. Whatever the ending, he is revealed to not be the Origami Killer.[19]


Heavy Rain was announced at E3 2006, where a tech demo entitled The Casting was presented to the media and general public. In early 2007, a poster of Heavy Rain appeared on Quantic Dream's under-construction website.[20] At Digital Dragons 2013, Cage announced that Heavy Rain cost €16.7 million to make. With marketing and distribution added, the total spent was €40 million.[21] At the 2009 Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, Quantic Dream released a new trailer[22] and introduced two new characters, Scott Shelby,[23] a private detective, and Ethan Mars, an architect.[24]

Heavy Rain was originally planned to also be released for the PC and to use Ageia, with two separate versions of the game to handle the presence or lack of an appropriate physics processing unit on the computer.[25] However, the game became a PlayStation 3 exclusive[3] and the Physx engine was replaced by the Havok engine.[26] The graphical user interface of Heavy Rain was created with the middleware Menus Master by Omegame.[27] The same software was also used for Jayden's ARI glasses, placing a 3D interface within the game world. Game physics, clothing and hair simulation are made available with Havok Physics and Havok Cloth.[26]

During the BAFTA Annual Games Lecture 2013, Cage revealed that game could have been released as Xbox 360 exclusive by Microsoft, but Microsoft turned it down due to its child kidnapping theme, fearing that it may lead to a scandal.[28]

Heavy Rain director David Cage described the game as "a very dark film noir thriller with mature themes" without any supernatural elements,[29] and that "the real message [of the game] is about how far you're willing to go to save someone you love."[7] In 2008, Cage gave a brief overview of the game's narrative and ambitions: "Heavy Rain is about normal people who have landed in extraordinary situations. I wanted a much more personal story. The first thing that came to my mind, as a father of two little boys, was that the main theme should simply be a father's love for his son. This is not a game about saving the princess or the world. Its [sic] purely about a father's love. The main story will revolve around four different characters, and we're putting the spotlight on their perceptions. The question 'what is good and what is evil' is the key here, that will be just a matter of viewpoint...I believe heavily in moral choices, I'm going to use them A LOT. They're not about being good or bad, but about finding the right balance."[30] Cage commented on the setting by saying, "I don't want to do a big free-roaming city like GTA, because the flow of the story will then be hard to control. Nevertheless, I do want to incorporate big sets, with a crowd, heavy populated areas like a mall and a subway are going to be in there. Of course, the gameplay has got to make use of that aspect too."[31]

In the game itself, the city remains nameless but is strongly influenced by the environs of Philadelphia.[32] Cage cited his like of M. Night Shyamalan movies, several which are situated in Philadelphia. Working with a scouting agent that assisted on the Philadelphia film, Cage and his team visited the city, taking in many of the poorer neighborhoods and meeting with the residents there to capture the despair, poverty, and fear they saw.[32] Cage has also stated that "I would like people to play it once…because that's life. Life you can only play once... I would like people to have this experience that way." He went on to say, "I'm fine with [reloading to avoid a bad result], but the right way to enjoy Heavy Rain is really to make one thing because it's going to be your story. It's going to be unique to you. It's really the story you decided to write... I think playing it several times is also a way to kill the magic of it."[33] In the Director's Cut edition of the game (the PS Move compatible edition) within the bonus content, "The Origami's Trail", the narrator states that the game is in fact set in Philadelphia.[34]

The Casting technology demo

The Casting, shown at E3 2006, is a non-playable, real-time 3D prototype technology demo. It was running on a non-final PlayStation 3 console development kit in 720p display resolution. The demo showcased a complex virtual actor (hence the other name, "Virtual Actor Demo"), highlighting numerous expressions and motion-captured animations. It also showed various technical features of the game engine, all embedded in a brief, emotional story. However, the plot of the tech demo has nothing to do with the story of Heavy Rain itself. The story appeared to have been written and directed by David Cage and although he chose not to credit himself in the demo, his voice can be heard playing the scene's director. The virtual actor in the demo is based on French American actress Aurélie Bancilhon, and she was eventually placed in the game as the character Lauren Winter. The prototype used not only her likeness, but also her motion captured performance.[35] Quantic Dream highlighted that the technology demo is just a sample of things achievable in a limited amount of time, and that during the making of the prototype, they still were in the middle of research and development efforts for the game itself. A brand new demo featuring the character Madison Paige was showcased at the SCEE Press Conference at the games convention in Leipzig.[36] The demo was titled "The Taxidermist", which showcased the in-game engine and quick time event gameplay elements, as found in Quantic Dream's previous title Fahrenheit. The demo also confirmed a 2009 release date. The whole video presentation is now available online.[37]

From a technological standpoint, notable features of The Casting include full body and facial motion capture, real-time tears and wrinkles on the face, advanced skin shaders, and some advanced rendering features, such as depth of field, spherical harmonics, auto exposure and high dynamic range rendering. The technology enables animations of pupil dilation, tongue, eyes, fingers, and dynamic hair with physics.[38][39] The game engine also supports real-time post-processing,[40][41] with which E3 attendees could interact at the event.[42][43] Hair physics is achieved by the use of Havok.[26] Facial motion capture was recorded using Vicon MX40 cameras and system, and was enhanced with a muscle system.


A playable demo was released on 11 February 2010.[44] The demo was released prior to this date for people who took part in a Four Day Challenge on 5 February 2010.[45] A patch to allow use of the PlayStation Move controller to play the game was released in September 2010.

The special edition of Heavy Rain, released in Europe and Australia,[46] contained a PlayStation Network voucher for the first episode of downloadable content, Chronicle 1 – The Taxidermist, the official soundtrack and a dynamic XMB theme. Though the PlayStation Network voucher was supposed to contain the Heavy Rain soundtrack, it was not available for download on the day of the game's release, but it was added on 4 March 2010.

A modified version of the game was released titled Heavy Rain Edition Modifiée exclusively in France, aimed towards a younger audience.[47]


Heavy Rain (Original Soundtrack from the Video Game)
Soundtrack album by Normand Corbeil
Released 23 February 2010 (iTunes)
4 March 2010 (PSN)
Genre Soundtrack
Video game music
Length 40:26
Label Sony Computer Entertainment

The orchestral soundtrack for the game was scored by Canadian composer Normand Corbeil and recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.[48]

Four Days Challenge

Starting on 26 January 2010, people were able to take part in the Four Days Challenge, which was an online search for the Origami Killer.[49] People had to pool ideas and clues in order to find the Origami Killer. When European players registered, they gained access to an exclusive in-game PlayStation Home T-shirt. U.S. players were given the chance to get a shirt during the Four Days Challenge. If Week 2 of the challenge was completed successfully, users received a code to play the demo early.[50] If Week 4 of the challenge was completed successfully, users received a code for a free Heavy Rain dynamic theme.

Public demo

On 11 February 2010, a demo with a tutorial, two in-game levels,[51] and a trailer was released internationally. Prior to the release, it was privately available via redemption code to anyone who solved Week 2 of the Four Days Challenge.[50] The demo follows both Private Detective Scott Shelby and FBI Special Agent Norman Jayden as they individually try to track down the Origami Killer through conventional interrogation of witnesses and crime scene investigation. The demo's opening features a tutorial not in the final game to get the player acquainted with the control scheme before starting the first scene. While no plot points are revealed, the demo sees Shelby visit a sleazy hotel to meet and question a call-girl named Lauren Winter, whose son Johnny was a victim of the Origami Killer. Jayden appears at a crime scene in search of clues in his investigation of the killer in a segment of the demo as well. The player is introduced to Lt. Carter Blake. The "To Catch a Killer" trailer accompanies the demo, containing some previously unseen footage from the game, as well as a recap of the four main characters, along with their possible motivations.

Downloadable content

A prequel, Heavy Rain: The Taxidermist, originally planned to be released as downloadable content at the same time as the full game, was re-scheduled to be released on 4 March in North America. In Europe it was released on the launch date with the Special Edition of the game but due to issues with the soundtrack on PSN, customers had been advised to wait until 4 March before redeeming their code.[52] It became available for the general public on 1 April 2010.[53]

PlayStation Move support

At the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo during Sony's presentation on their new motion-sensing PlayStation Move technology, it was revealed that Heavy Rain would be updated to use the Move controller.[54] The patch adding Move support was released on 22 September 2010.

PlayStation 4

In June 2015, Quantic Dream announced a PlayStation 4 version of Heavy Rain for North America, Europe, and the PAL region alongside Beyond: Two Souls. The games were released both separately and together in one package, the Quantic Dream Collection.[55] The PlayStation 4 version includes improved graphics, consistent frame rates, and support for higher resolutions. These were released on the PlayStation Network store on 1 March 2016.[56]


Aggregate scores
Review scores
Game Informer9.5/10[64]
OPM (UK)9/10[70]

Heavy Rain was critically acclaimed. The UK Official PlayStation Magazine reviewer Tim Clark wrote, "I'm convinced it's one of the freshest, most exciting, and even important games on PS3 so far." Clark praised the effective controls of the game, as well as the pacing of the story, which the reviewer described as key, and perfectly designed to create an "exhausting, exhilarating, and, crucially, involving" experience. He concluded by saying that, "Certainly there's nothing quite like it on PS3, or indeed any other system. Put gaming conventions aside, go in with no expectations other than this is something new and massively good-looking, and you'll be rewarded with a unique experience that lurches between genius and madness, manages to be genuinely emotional, and that you'll be bursting to talk about with your friends."[71] GamesMaster complimented Heavy Rain for being "incredibly original and compelling", as "the atmosphere is incredible – full of driving rain (which becomes central to the plot), fizzing neon lights, dark apartments and warehouses. It's a dark noir game, not a bright adventure." The game was given a GamesMaster Gold Award.[72] IGN's Chris Roper praised the game's "fantastic story that's one of the best in gaming." However, he pointed out that the game's beginning is very slow, and might turn off some players.[69] GameZone's Michael Lafferty wrote, "There are some flaws, but taken as a package, Heavy Rain is a remarkable achievement in gaming that creates an interactive experience that goes beyond the pages of a good novel or film noir. This is a game that needs to be experienced."[73] Winda Benedetti wrote about the maturity of Heavy Rain as well as Remedy Entertainment's psychological action thriller Alan Wake for MSNBC, praising both titles for being "emotionally powerful" as well as having "said goodbye to the tired alien invasions and over-the-top fantasy stories so often found in video games. Instead, they peer into the dark reaches of the very real human heart to deliver stories that are thrilling, chilling and utterly absorbing."[74]

Interactive fiction writer Emily Short was generally pleased with the experimental gameplay of Heavy Rain, but found the game's story to be full of "stock bits" borrowed from films, leaving inconsistent characterisation and gaps and poor pacing in its plot. She cited the disconnection between the motivation of the specific character and the motivation of the game's player, such as when Ethan is challenged to navigate a maze of wires charged with electricity; Ethan the character is guided to finish it regardless of ability, but the player is given the option to abandon the challenge if they cannot do it. She also considered that the characterisation does not follow the game's claim of how choices matter, pointing out that the reveal of the identity of the Origami Killer was a "betrayal" of the way she had played the game to that point.[14] Ian Bogost, a video game designer and Assistant Professor of Literature Communication and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, counters claims that Heavy Rain qualifies as an "interactive film". Bogost notes that "film is editing", in that filmmakers put together images and scenes in a compilation to evoke certain feelings and emotions, and to convey story and plot in a limited amount of time. While Heavy Rain strives for this, it retains elements of a video game, and Bogost considers the game to have a "rejection of editing in favor of prolonging"; examples given are the need to have the player provide interaction for most of the characters' motion, or having to control and watch Ethan throughout his search for Jason at the crowded mall. Bogost opined that this "prolonging" may actually be beneficial to the video game medium, as several scenes from the game's third chapter, during which Ethan runs through a routine schedule of homework, dinner, and bedtime for Shaun, allow for periods where the game waits for the player to interact with it; during these periods, simply by using mise en scène images of the house and characters, invite the player to think about what the characters are experiencing, "to linger on the mundane instead of cutting to the consequential".[13] In 2010, the game was included in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[75]


Heavy Rain ranked as the tenth best-selling game in North America for February 2010. According to NPD Group sales information, the game sold 219,300 units in the region that month.[76] Heavy Rain entered Japanese sales charts at number six, selling 27,000 units according to Media Create.[77] In weeks 1 – 15 in 2010 Heavy Rain outsold all Xbox 360 games within the EU, ranking it number 10 in European software sales for consoles.[78] Heavy Rain debuted at number one on the UK sales charts for the week ending 27 February 2010, with higher sales than all multiplatform and single platform releases.[79] At GDC 2011, Cage announced that the title had sold over 2 million copies, greatly surpassing the developer's initial pre-release estimates of 200,000 – 300,000.[80] Director David Cage noted at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012 that the title had a completion rate of around 75%, compared with around 25% for average games. He attributed the difference to the level of emotional engagement the game provides. At Digital Dragons 2013, Cage announced that Sony earned more than €100 million with the game.[21]


Honor Awards Presented by
Technical Innovation 7th British Academy Video Games Awards[81] BAFTA
Original Music
Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering 2011 Interactive Achievement Awards[82] AIAS
Outstanding Innovation in Gaming
Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition
Adventure Game of the Year[83] Game of the Year 2010 GameSpy
PlayStation 3 Game of the Year[84]
PlayStation 3 Game of the Year[85] Game of the Year 2010 IGN

Film adaptation

New Line Cinema and Quantic Dream Pictures obtained rights for a film adaptation a few days after the technology demo from E3 2006 was shown.[86] The rights were later purchased in an auction by Unique Features, a production company formed by two former New Line executives, Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. Shaye and Lynne purchased the rights to the film with their own funds despite having "first look" rights in place with Warner Bros., who had bought New Line prior to their departure.[87]

David Milch, writer for television series NYPD Blue and Deadwood, was slated to adapt the game for the big screen;[88] Shaye stating Milch's "incredible ability to transform intense and complex storylines into gripping, popular drama makes him the perfect partner" for the film adaptation.[88]


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