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Heavy Rain Chronicles: The Taxidermist
Score: 85%
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Quantic Dream
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

What Is It?:
Anyone that has finished Heavy Rain knows the story doesn't truly end with the credits. Multiple story paths and branching narratives meant no two play-throughs were ever the same and for many players (myself included), the real fun of Heavy Rain came with the second, third, or even fourth play-through.

The developers of Heavy Rain knew for some people, just beating the game wouldn't be enough. That's where the first Heavy Rain Chronicles: The Taxidermist comes in. What is hopefully the first of many add-on chapters for the ambitious original, The Taxidermist experiments with the core story of the main game in a unique way.

Taking place before the events of the main game, The Taxidermist has veteran reporter, Madison Paige, investigating a lead for the elusive "Origami Killer." For $4.99, Heavy Rain fans can explore a single scene that is just as intense and emotionally involving as the main experience.

What's New?:
As Madison's investigation of the "Origami Killer" continues, she is led to a creepy old house in a quiet subdivision. Similar to the scene with the Doctor from the main game, Madison seems very eager to get herself into serious, life-threatening trouble with the deranged resident of an overwhelmingly morbid home.

Although this scene doesn't add any extra story or context to the events of Heavy Rain, it is still a very solid character study for one of the main characters. Depending on how quickly you snatch up this add-on, you may or may not notice Madison's voice actor has changed. It isn't really that big of a deal, but I feel it is only worth noting because of the circumstances that surround the added chapter. For anyone that has been following Heavy Rain keenly since its initial announcement, they will recognize this scene from one of the many press demos the developers have showed off throughout development. So from what I can only assume is "cutting room floor" material early on in the development cycle, this chapter is surprisingly polished, which makes it slightly disappointing there isn't more.

Like the main game, there are multiple endings to see as well as many different paths in which the scene can play out and like the main game, there is added value in going back to collect each ending. Each replay is made easier by quick checkpoints at three major story moments that players can reload anytime they choose, but the overall experience is alarmingly short. Collecting each of the five endings can be achieved in just under fifty minutes and for players that rush through a single time, it takes less than ten.

Is It Worth It?:
As gripping and compelling as this side story is, it all seems like a small part of a bigger picture. If the plan is to release multiple chapters, then The Taxidermist is a great start to draw players in. If this is a one-time experiment, however, then the limited experience and short replay severely cuts into the value. For five dollars, I expected more only because I loved the main game so much, but considering The Taxidermist was also free to pre-order customers, it makes sense as a first attempt. The setting and structure lends itself remarkably well to more of these bite sized side-stories that the experience of The Taxidermist is only affected by its brevity, not its quality.

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