The lights are on
I've played Heavy Rain; borrowed it from a friend because I was a little unsure about how good it would be. By the time I was done, I was glad I'd opted out of buying it.
The characterization of the two main characters and much of the minor cast is extremely weak, not just because of the robotic voice acting (I'm not blaming the French actors, but the decision to have them in the English dub was just idiotic), but because of how utterly unlikable at best and mind numbingly stupid they are at worse. How was I supposed to feel sorry for Jason at ALL when he repeatedly ran away from a father who WARNED him to stay close, decided to walk halfway across a mall, downstairs, and into a street during rush hour? Or better yet, why should I feel sorry for Ethan's wife, the woman who got HIS house and hates his guts for... the crime of trying and failing to save a brain dead child that wouldn't listen to his repeated shouts to stop?
And then there's Madison, the female protagonist whose first scene is almost an hour into the story, and consists of nothing but her taking a shower, then having a nightmare that results in her "death". You could say that it introduces her crippling insomnia, but when said insomnia NEVER reappears again, I'm inclined to insist that the scene could have been done away with without any negative impact on the story whatsoever. It's simply a plot device introduced to get her to check into a motel where Ethan is conveniently staying, where her next chapter consists of... treating an injured Ethan's wounds, because the only female character has to have a scene devoted to taking care of the male protagonist, naturally. Oh but wait, then she gets another scene where she does detective work!
...Detective work which results in her being tied to table by a mad doctor because she either accepted a drink from a strange, old ex-doctor with a reputation for selling drugs, or from sneaking around his house... while he's inside it. Next scene, she's yet again tending to Ethan. Scene after that. she's doing more detective work that ends up getting her forced to do a strip tease at gun point, next scene, trapped in an apartment that gives you the Indiana Jones fridge scene. Final scene, she contributes to the final battle by nearly getting choked, then running away until she's saved. Alternatively, she does an overly complicated motorcycle chase to... see Ethan.
Basically, Madison is probably the most shallow of all the characters. She's introduced in peril that fits the definition of "kinky peril" to a tee, conveniently meets the hero, goes off to get in more kinky peril, returns to suddenly fall in love with a hero she met once after saving him (because she knew where he was, for some reason), goes off to get in MORE PERIL, then makes it to the final scene to play a supporting role to the rest of the cast. Her insomnia is introduced and forgotten, and at the end of the game, she's either dead, married, single with allusions to more peril (likely kinky), or insane. Fantastic writing, natch. -_-
I'd go on about how the game's police force would have an investigation in less than a week for the blatantly obvious abuse of power that occurs daily, how the plot "twist" on who the villain really is impossible to take seriously due to the gameplay presented and a scene that hid nothing prior to its inclusion in the reveal, or how much I think David Cage is a hack writer, but that'd be an entirely different paragraph. This was just my take on the characters.
So in short, I didn't like Heavy Rain, and I think it had an extremely poor narrative, at least in regards to the characters that carry it.