Posted: June 6th, 2021
Heavy Rain Trying to rescue your own son from a serial killer by completing a set of painful, heart-wrenching trials, Heavy Rain was one of the most touching and depressing (and one of the greatest) video games I have ever played showing the true nature and consequences of people’s morality when their human reasoning is put to the test. “Human reason” generally refers to the human being’s capacity to use logic and make judgments related to knowledge and, depending on who you read, ethics. (Yahooansweres).
In Heavy Rain, you play as Ethan Mars, a man suffering depression when one of his sons is hit and killed by a car. This leads him to try to win the affection of his now only son Shaun who is slowly growing distant from him. When his son is kidnapped by the famous Origami Killer, he is forced to go through five trials if he wants to obtain clues to where the killer and his son might be; he needs to drive at high speeds for 5 miles in a busy city without stopping, crawl through a small tunnel of broken glass, cut off one of his fingers, drink poison… and to kill a drug dealer.
I want to address three points in this essay, one what Ethan’s reasoning were when attempting these trials, two, the justifications and consequences of his actions and three, how human reasoning inform the ideas of this game and why that makes this game so great. Self-mutilation, putting people in danger and murdering is all viewed on as something wrong in society; Ethan obviously is aware of it too but his devote love to his son causes his determination. When completely the tasks self mutilation, mentally and morally these tasks were the “easiest”.
Ethan thinks “I would never do anything to harm or hurt myself, but I can lose a finger for my son”. He has two choices, don’t harm himself and let his son die or harm himself and save his son. Then comes driving at high speeds through a busy city without obeying the laws of traffic; not only does Ethan put himself in danger, but many others as well. Does he choose to rely on his driving skills and eventually drive the five miles or can he choose to back out?
Choosing whether or not to kill the drug dealer must have been the hardest for Ethan; when the drug dealer begs for his life and shows him a picture of his two daughters Ethan must contemplate whether he really should kill this man. “Maybe there are other options. Maybe he’s lying. The man’s a scumbag who sells dope to kids does he really deserve to live? How can I play God and take away the life of another? So again he’s left with the two choices of letting his son die or live? are just some of the many thoughts that rush into Ethan’s head as he contemplates the choice he is about to make. Then we come to the final trial where Ethan needs to drink poison. By drinking it Ethan will only have an hour to live and attempt to save his son with the clues he has. Morally, Ethan already knows that the right thing to do is to drink the poison… but he contemplates whether he’ll have enough time and again contemplating that maybe there might be other options? So are Ethan’s action justified?
By completing these trials Ethan saves his son and brings a serial killer to justice. At the same time he harms himself, other people and kills man. Harming himself for his son, we can see that the human reasoning of Ethan is logical here and shouldn’t be disputable. Then comes the driving, he’s putting many people’s live in danger, so now Ethan’s reasoning and morality is challenged. Is it really worth it? It’s his son, he shouldn’t’ back out and leave his son to die and a killer to go free… right?
But what about the innocent lives he might be taking? Then again… cops get in high speed chases to catch the bad guys all the time right? If he decides to complete his task… is his reasoning overall logical? Legally, no. Morally, most likely not, but in the ends justify the means and what needs to be is done. Now, what about choosing whether or not to kill the drug dealer; he’s a father just like him dealing with problems. Legally, we can already see that if Ethan chooses to kill him he has broken the law and morally this is wrong too.
But then again the ends justify the means and just like Hiroshima, it may not have been the moral thing to do… but it needed to be done. Heavy Rain isn’t just another videogame; it’s a videogame with a story to tell, a message to send. Influenced by the power of human reasoning, Quantic Dream (the developers of Heavy Rain) wanted to emphasize the importance of reasoning and how it comes to play when your morals are challenged, and Heavy Rain does a good job at sending their message; making decisions in the game that determine the final outcome aren’t easy.
Unlike games like Call of Duty and Red Dead Redemption where you’re killing enemies off left and right without a second thought, in Heavy Rain, the aesthetics and feel of the game are made to try to be realistic and mirror the realities of life. Because of that, making some decisions in the game really got me sitting on the couch with a Play Station controller in my hands asking myself “What would I do? I completed all 5 trials excepting murdering the drug dealer (haha, it was just too hard for me) and instead had to fit my clues together and try to guess where the killer was (and yeah, eventually I beat it without having to do anything in the game against my morals; and yes the happy ending made up for all the depressing events I had to go through). Yeah, I tried to tell myself that “it’s just a video game and now of this is true” but after really getting into the game’s story, it didn’t really help, my own morals were tested against me; just how this game intended it to be.
In a world where life can be brutal and your morals are constantly being tested, Heavy Rain isn’t just another videogame, it’s a beautifully told story putting you in the shoes of Ethan, forcing you to make the decisions that eventually determine the outcome in the end. After finishing the game you’ll wonder “how far will I go to achieve something I desperately want? ” And when your back in reality, when your morals really are tested… how will you reason and contemplate the situation?
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