The collecting of previously titles that are grouped together by their developer and re-released in a shiner new package for the next console generation continues, and today’s starring attraction are Quantic Dream’s two genre-defying titles for the PS3, Heavy Rain, originally from 2010, and Beyond: Two Souls, originally from 2013.
Grouped together on the PS4 with a brand new coat of paint, do they still have enough going for them to bring the wow factor that was so essential to the excitement surrounding them when they were released?
For those who don’t know them, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls are very hard to explain. Essentially, in some ways they’re designed as interactive movies. In other ways, they’re a successor to the old point and click adventure titles for the PC. The majority of gameplay in both revolves around exploring small areas, interacting with objects or talking to people, and then making split second decisions in cut scenes with QTE.
Heavy Rain is centred around a group of 4 playable characters, played in alternating chapters, who are drawn into a plot revolving around a serial killer called the Origami killer. By the end of the game, your choices could have wildly changed the relationships between the characters, or even whether they survived to make it to the end, or in what state. Beyond: Two Souls tells the story of a young girl with psychic powers and a mysterious shadowy force that follows her around, interacting with the world in various ways. Her search for independence and understanding of her powers are what drive the plot the majority of the time.
These games therefore hang heavily on a couple of tent-posts: the characters, the choices and the plot. In all three of these, I feel Heavy Rain is the superior title, despite being older, and its whodunit murder mystery plot is far more intriguing to me than Beyond’s fairly standard X-Files feel that it tries to create. Beyond is still an interesting game, with star power from Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe working well in context.
Another major selling point for these games was always their technology and graphics, and while their age is showing a bit in both titles, particularly Heavy Rain, the updated resolutions do a lot to hide most of the major flaws. In many cases, they still look very comparable to the current-gen of gaming. The rest of the changes in the re-release are minimal, and the mechanics of both do sometimes show their age now. Beyond has most of the new gameplay changes, including a mode where you can play through the plot in chronological order, and interactions involving the PS4 controller mic.
For what it’s worth, I liked both these games at launch, for their unique qualities and intriguing plots. You may well find the gameplay too finicky and annoying at times to make it to the end, but I admire the scope and aim of both games. Of the two, I think Heavy Rain lends itself better to the format, but there’s something to be said for both. They’re not the kind of games I would normally play more than a couple times through, until I’ve seen all the endings, but if you’ve never played them before and you enjoy plot-driven interactive adventures, you may find it worth checking out this collection.