Building Character: Norman Jayden

Monday, January 28th, 2013

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Welcome to the second installment of Building Character! From here on out we’ll be releasing these articles bi-weekly on Mondays, alternating with our prestigious Oprainfall Origins articles! So now you can look forward to every single Monday! You’re welcome.

Today’s character is FBI Agent Norman Jayden from Heavy Rain, or as he calls himself, Agent Nahman Jayden.

"Hold the phone!"

“Hold the phone!” That’s right Nahman, today’s your day!

Heavy Rain, while far from perfect, is a game I thoroughly enjoyed, and Agent Nahman Jayden is probably my favorite character. Or at least, he was the only character that was upsetting to watch die. (For those of you who haven’t played Heavy Rain fret not! That’s not a spoiler. Some characters, playable and NPC, can die if you screw up while playing, and it will affect the ending, but if you play it right then you can get an ending with no deaths!) He has to put up with a lot of crap and he gets a pretty raw deal, but he’s just so… funny. Not even on purpose, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s endearing.

Let me start by talking about the game a bit, for those who haven’t played. Heavy Rain is the story of a father, Ethan Mars, trying to save his son who has been kidnapped by the infamous Origami Killer. Agent Nahman Jayden, FBI, is called in to work with the police in catching the killer before he claims the life of Shaun Mars, Ethan’s son. The game is very cinematic and based entirely around quick-time events. The gameplay is actually pretty good (unless you play with Move…) and the story will get you emotionally invested, but has a healthy dose of heart-pounding action as well. (If you’ve played the game… Lizard Trial. Need I say more?)

Norman Jayden BlakeNahman, as mentioned earlier, gets dealt the worst hand of all the characters. Well, maybe not, but he’s got an abundance of problems. For one, the cop he has to work with is a total jerk. Lieutenant Carter Blake. He’s aggressive, he’s rude and he has precious little respect for the law unless it serves his purposes. There will always be contention between Carter Black and Nahman, even if attempts are made to be somewhat nice to him. He’s just a jerk (and for goodness’ sake he can’t even pronounce “origami” correctly!), and poor Nahman is stuck with him for the entirety of the game, never getting the respect he deserves. It’s sort of like they’re doing Good Cop/Bad Cop, except Blake’s not playing.


Nahman’s other big problems are due to his addictive personality. Nahman, being an FBI agent and all, has access to top level gadgets to help solve the case. All he really needs (and uses) is ARI. ARI (“Added Reality Interface”) is basically a ridiculously awesome computer in a pair of sunglasses and a single black glove. Nahman dons ARI to scan crime scenes for clues, identify foreign substances and obtain file information. It even creates virtual workspaces to relax in while going over clues, and has built-in games! It is unclear how ARI works exactly, but there is some speculation that it ties in with Nahman’s addiction to the made-up drug Triptocaine. Both are detrimental to Nahman’s health. Even his butler (yeah, he has a butler) tells him be careful or it could kill him. “That would be most unfortunate, sir,” he says. Unfortunate. Such strong language. During the game you have the choice to use ARI or not, and take triptocaine or not. The choices you make will affect Nahman’s ending, assuming he makes it to the end.

This is the part with spoilers. If you haven’t played the game, you should probably skip this paragraph.

The thing that sucks the most for poor Nahman is that no matter what you do, he gets a crappy ending! He either ODs on triptocaine and dies, or starts seeing things from ARI’s augmented reality without actually wearing ARI. That’s assuming he makes it to the end at all, and there’s plenty of places he can die! There is one ending that’s not completely negative, but there’s no ending that’s fully positive. It’s just not happening, Nahm. I’m sorry.

Okay, we’ve safely passed the spoilers. Read on from here!

This is the part where Nahman shines. Despite all of his troubles, he’s not the whiny, self-involved, spoiled FBI agent you might expect. He’s honestly interested in catching the killer -the right killer- and saving Shaun. It’s not just a job, he’s emotionally invested in the case and failure is unacceptable not because it means his boss might be disappointed, but because it means a child’s life. Throughout the game it’s evident Nahman is a nice guy, but still a little piteous and easy to make fun of. Which explains the creative outpouring from his fans.

Nahman Jayden, FBI, has some pretty great fan-made stuff out there. In a lot of it he’s definitely the butt of the joke, but not in a hateful way, because he’s just so likable. Hell, he even has a Tumblr blog dedicated to his crazy motion capture mouth called Nahmouth. One of my favorites, though, is his NahmanJayden YouTube channel. There’s some pretty great videos there, including the one above. If you’ve played the game I heartily recommend giving these videos a look, as there’s some absolute gold in there. Not everything pokes fun at him, though. So to send him off feeling a bit better about himself, here’s a fan-made trailer for Heavy Rain starring Nahman Jayden! Warning: There are some pretty minor spoilers in this video.