The inspiration for Heavy Rain
“When you develop a game, you go on a journey. And my journey started one Saturday afternoon in a Parisian shopping mall when I lost my six-year-old son in the crowd for several minutes. I would never have imagined that those few minutes were going to change my life. I would never have thought that I would be able to share what I felt at that moment with millions of gamers across the world.
Before Heavy Rain, I wrote spectacular tales inspired by movies, books and games that I had liked. With Heavy Rain, for the first time I wrote about my own emotions, events that I had experienced, and about personal and private moments. My experience as a new father, the unique relationship with a son, what loving someone means, the fear of loss and death, and the moment when Ethan has to amputate a finger (two of my own fingers were badly cut in an accident when I was six years old) are just a few examples of the way in which my own life has infiltrated my writing, sometimes subconsciously.
Gone were heroes with super-powers, gone were intrepid warriors with superhuman strength – I was going to write about normal people facing extraordinary things. I was going to write about subjects which touched me in the hope that they would touch other people too. I was going to focus not on players’ dexterity but on their feelings. This game brought about a fundamental and definitive change in the way I write and think about this medium.
This game brought about a fundamental and definitive change in the way I write and think about this medium.
When Heavy Rain was eventually released after four years of development, I had no idea what to expect. The game was so different and personal, I thought it would probably be regarded as a kind of UFO, an oddity, by most of the gaming world. But sometimes, a story seems almost to write itself and the author feels they have no choice in the matter. And that is what I felt when writing Heavy Rain.
For four years, we worked in the dark, not really knowing what we were creating. Would the audience engage with this story, feel the emotional punch, really hesitate before the moral dilemmas facing them?
The first time it all fell into place was when we added the original music created by the sadly missed Normand Corbeil. The scenes instantly made complete sense, the image was transcended and, all of a sudden, the emotion appeared.
I have too many memories of the game’s development to mention them all here.
But I think back especially to the countless messages and reviews, some of them very touching, from players who have been telling us for ten years now, just how much this game moved them and touched them personally, often very personally. Nothing thrills me more than knowing that this game has resonated with millions of players worldwide, people who looked away when Ethan cut off his finger, who paused their console to think about a dilemma, who trembled, hesitated, were surprised by the identity of the killer, or who quite simply felt something when playing Heavy Rain, and who will remember their experience for a long time to come.
For all these reasons and millions of others, Heavy Rain will always hold a very special place in my heart. It is the game which gave birth to me as an auteur and which allowed me, for the first time, to share what I felt better than with words. It is the game which let me create a syntax, a language to tell stories in which you are the hero, a language which I continue to explore and drive forward today.
Heavy Rain will always hold a very special place in my heart.
I know that it is a special game for many of you too, and although we don’t know each other, it is something which unites us, a story that we have experienced together, in a manner of speaking.
The magic of the video game is also precisely that: the power to share our emotions with people we don’t know, and together to evoke what love means.
Today, seeing a new generation discover Heavy Rain for the first time on PC gives me enormous pleasure once again. The story of Ethan, Madison, Shelby and Jayden has perhaps something universal about it, something which asks us an essential question in a world which is disintegrating around us, perhaps the only question really worth asking: what would you do for love?”