When the demo for your game is longer than the DLC, you know you’re doing something wrong.
The multiple endings attainable in Heavy Rain makes a direct sequel almost impossible to pull of, for any extension in the Heavy Rain universe to work it would almost certainly have to be a prequel. We already know the Origami Killer was also active a year prior to events in Heavy Rain so a prequel featuring a whole new cast of characters would definitely be a plausible solution. It may lack the huge twists found in the first game since we now know who the Origami Killer is but I trust that David Cage and the Quantic Dream team could once again produce something truly spectacular if they were committed to making a Heavy Rain 2.
For the DLC route, QD decided release episodes placing us back in to the shoes of each of the main characters (excluding Ethan, at least for now) and provide us with a brief glimpse at what their lives were like before we met them in the main game. First up to get the flashback treatment is the sexy Madison Paige. Unsurprisingly we find our heroine on the hunt to find the Origami Killer. Her search leads her to the home of retired Taxidermist Leland White who in his spare time likes to stuff more than just dead animals. Shortly after breaking in to his house and discovering his secret puppet stash Leland returns home and it’s up to you to get Madison the hell out of there before she becomes his latest victim. It’s at this point where the episode falls apart and the intriguing premise is completely wasted. Character movement was one of the biggest problems with Heavy Rain, it was robotic and imprecise but every other aspect in the game more than made up for it. Here, the story is extraneous and you’re forced to use the clunky controls in an attempt to be stealthy which put simply, doesn’t work. Sneaking around a house, hiding from a deranged killer is naturally a tense and nerving experience but the controls constantly made me feel unequipped to handle the situation.
David Cage recently said that each episode of Heavy Rain Chronicles will last roughly one hour but in the case of The Taxidermist I have to assume what he meant was it took his team an hour to MAKE. I managed to start up the DLC and make it to end in under 10 minutes which was significantly less time than it took to download and install. Once completed you’re then challenged to play through the last two minutes of it over and over again until you experience all five different endings, however the results are always the same. Either Madison dies or she escapes, the former doesn’t make sense continuity-wise and whether she does the latter by climbing out of a window or sneaking out of the front door is ultimately irrelevant especially since this episode is self-contained and has no bearing on the main story.
Had The Taxidermist done something to enhance the main story or even shed some more light on Madison as a character it might have been worth a purchase, however as it stands this episode is completely pointless and with very little redeeming qualities. The premise is fantastic and the disturbing imagery is a welcomed edition to the game but the part where you’re actually playing it just isn’t fun. If the upcoming episodes follows this route of awkward side-plots Quantic Dreams may as well quit now and do something more constructive with their time. Given that the main game features upwards of 40 chapters it’s almost insulting that Quantic Dream is expecting us to pay $5 for an extra 10 minutes of gameplay. Even the Heavy Rain demo was courteous enough to provide us with a more longer experience.