What Heavy Rain Can Teach You About Bad Narrative Design

David Cage’s Heavy Rain presents itself as an “Interactive Drama”, and mostly succeeds in being just that. It tells a compelling murder mystery thriller, the choices the player makes impact the outcome of events, and the story is told through the viewpoints of well written characters with voice actors who make them come alive. But the game’s dramatic structure and environmental design is not on par with its story, and I’m going to try to analyse these weaknesses.

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First of all, I won’t spoil any of the endings, but I will speak in detail about the Prologue and the dramatic turn of events in Chapter 1. Also, I’m not here to criticize the game and condemn it just for the sake of it. Heavy Rain is excellent in many ways, but because of this, its shortcomings are more surprising. They need to be analysed for us to understand why they happened and what a narrative designer can learn from these mistakes.

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