Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Heavy Rain Chronicles, Chapter 1: The Taxidermist

6:00 PM on 03.19.2010 // Samit Sarkar

The Taxidermist” is the first in what will presumably be a series of a few additional short stories in the universe of Heavy Rain. At first glance, downloadable content for a game such as Heavy Rain seems problematic. Since the focus of the game is its ostensibly self-contained story, telling tales that exist outside the game’s narrative -- yet within the Heavy Rain fiction -- could conflict with the characters and plot established by the game itself.

That said, I was willing to play through “The Taxidermist” because I enjoyed Heavy Rain enough that I wanted to find out more about its characters (in this case, you play as journalist Madison Paige), and because I just wanted more of Heavy Rain’s adventure-game-like environment interaction.

[Editor’s note: This review contains spoilers for “The Taxidermist,” so don’t read it if you want to go in completely blind. -Samit]


Heavy Rain Chronicles, Chapter 1: “The Taxidermist” (PlayStation Network)
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
To be released: April 1, 2010
MSRP: $4.99

In “The Taxidermist,” you explore a Madison Paige side story that takes place in November 2009, about two years prior to the events of Heavy Rain. The episode does a great job of building Madison’s character; that is, it helps to legitimize her as a journalist, since it establishes that by the time she tracks down Ethan Mars at a motel, she has been working to uncover the identity of the Origami Killer for more than two years. Following this particular lead entails questioning the latest suspect, a 40-year-old former taxidermist named Leland White.

Madison parks her motorcycle in front of White’s home/office, which is located in a serene suburban neighborhood -- some kids are playing in the front yard next door, even in the daytime downpour. You find that White isn’t home, so of course -- intrepid reporter that you are -- you break into his house to pursue a front-page scoop. White’s abode is suitably creepy, and that’s before you even factor in the numerous stuffed animals hanging on the walls or from the ceilings, and sitting around the living room.


As you explore White’s house more deeply, you find unsettling clues here and there -- things that hint at a more sinister side to the taxidermist. Since the entire chronicle consists of White’s home and its immediate surroundings, it feels as if Quantic Dream packed more interactivity per square inch, if you will, into this DLC -- although it may just seem that way to me. While some of the objects you interact with and actions you perform may not actually do anything per se, most of the things you can do in “The Taxidermist” combine to provide a sense of foreboding that has a satisfying narrative payoff -- once you head upstairs to the second floor, where most of the windows are obscured by newspapers.

Trying to go back downstairs after you discover White’s secret will trigger a cutscene in which he returns home, which is when Madison realizes that the creaky floorboards upstairs mean that she might never make it out of 411 Harbor Street alive (and when the real fun of “The Taxidermist” begins). Yes, it’s possible for Madison to die in “The Taxidermist,” which, of course, is kind of a big deal because it introduces a major hitch into the Heavy Rain canon: namely, how the hell does Madison exist in the main game if she’s been dead for two years?

It appears that for “The Taxidermist” as well as for Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream sacrificed a coherent plot in the name of an interesting one. Having said that, I’m almost willing to overlook the glaring Heavy Rain plot hole that Madison’s possible death creates, because nearly everything that can happen after White gets back is tremendously thrilling and immensely enjoyable. And your interactions (or lack thereof) with the objects in White’s house can affect the outcome, so it’s not as if the story only begins at that point.


But ignoring the potential contradiction would force me to regard “The Taxidermist” as a story that isn’t a part of the Heavy Rain timeline, when it’s so clear that Quantic Dream wants players to consider it as such. Another curious facet of “The Taxidermist” -- though one that I welcome -- is its ending. When you complete the episode, the game presents you with one of five different newspaper headlines. The next screen lists all five endings, and it prompts you to load your save from outside the house, inside the house, or when White returns, so you can try to see all of the endings. (It only gives you the headlines, so you still have to figure out how to achieve those outcomes.)

I say this is curious because it exemplifies a completely opposite ethos from the one that David Cage and Quantic Dream have repeatedly espoused for Heavy Rain: that you should only play it once through. In the context of this downloadable content, though, it makes sense -- my first play-through of “The Taxidermist” ran a mere 30 minutes, and I was taking my time. I don’t have a problem with Sony charging five dollars for the chronicle, but that’s only because discovering the other four endings provides enough playtime -- and is entertaining enough -- to justify the cost.

“The Taxidermist” also retains some of the annoying quirks of Heavy Rain. Madison’s voice acting isn’t spectacular, and White happens to share his voice with Scott Shelby, which is jarring. In addition, a possible death for Madison plays out with White stabbing her multiple times as she fails to start her bike. After killing her -- in broad daylight, mind you -- he slings her body over his shoulder and heads back toward his house, only to pause and laugh maniacally before he takes her inside. And you’d think that a journalist in 2009 -- or a functioning adult, really -- would keep a cell phone on her person. Like more than a few points in Heavy Rain, these moments test your suspension of disbelief.


Narrative-wise, “The Taxidermist” has a few problems, and it can produce a big one. But it also represents the best of Heavy Rain: character motivations, visuals (most notably, some tension-inducing split-screen cinematography), and game mechanics coalesce to create a gripping sequence of events that quickens your pulse and leaves you panting. I felt much the same way about “The Taxidermist” as I did about Heavy Rain as a whole -- the story doesn’t always make sense, but it’s worth playing anyway for the sheer excitement of it all. If the more mundane parts of Heavy Rain left you unenthused -- and if they didn’t, that’s even better -- you’ll enjoy this exhilarating condensed experience.

Score: 7.0 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

Download it!

Samit Sarkar,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
Confuseddalek avatarConfuseddalek
I found this weird game called Samurai Heroes for 8 dollars today. Its not bad.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Got Deadpool, Arkham Asylum and BioShock 1 and 2 all for 30$. Not to bad for going Black Friday shopping late.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -