Hey all! Last week brought us a test of island courage.
This week, we travel back to New York and kill a dude. Okay, not really. More like we watch ourselves kill a dude. Actually, we spend a lot of time watching.
Indigo Prophecy, known as Fahrenheit in Europe, is a game designed by Quantic Dream, who is responsible for the critically acclaimed Heavy Rain (and the somewhat less-so Beyond: Two Souls. As well as Omikron: The Nomad Soul, which has David Bowie. That's all you need to know).
In Indigo Prophecy, you start off as everyman Lucas Kane. The game opens with a possessed Lucas murdering a man in a diner bathroom. From here, you play as the detectives who are investigating the murder, which creates a cool sense of tension as you play as both accuser and accused. As you progress through the story, it becomes clear things are deeper what they seem. By the end, you'll have uncovered a conspiracy involving an ancient Mayan, A.I.'s and a variety of other ridiculous things.
Well, you'll partially uncover all these things. Like Heavy Rain, and perhaps even more so than that title, Indigo Prophecy is much more "Interactive Film" than game. Gameplay wise, much of your time in Indigo will be spent walking around examining clues and talking to people. You'll use the right joystick to interact with things, again, like in Heavy Rain (though in Indigo, they mercifully let you use the left joystick to move, instead of using R2 as a "gas" button). Talking to people requires you to choose from multiple responses in a limited amount of time. Which I like, because it gives the conversations a more natural ﬂow, instead of the weird, uncomfortable, halting convo's of something like Mass Effect.
What makes the game a little more interactive is a (somewhat limited) ability to choose your own path. The opening scene, for example, lets you decide how much to clean up the scene of the murder, and how to best leave the restaurant undetected. This affects what evidence the detectives (Carla and Tyler) find, and it affects witnesses' recollections of Lucas as well. It makes for a more immersive story in which you feel like more of a participant than otherwise.
Action scenes kind of derail this feeling, though. See, they're handled through Quick Time Events, which everyone hates. The way Indigo does it, however...is no exception. See, you have two four-sided, color coded circle-things appear in the center of the screen. They look like two Simon games. The idea is to push the left and right joysticks in the corresponding directions to, um...I guess move your character through the action sequence.
Epic action sequences they may be, but you never feel connected to them. And there's a way to make QTE's immersive. God of War and Asura's Wrath are two examples of how to do this.
But alas. You play Indigo Prophecy for the story, being an interactive movie. And it mostly delivers in this respect, although the story kind of jumps from Point A to Point C about two thirds of the way through. There's really no Point B. It's a pretty entertaining, deep story, though, despite some pacing and tonal problems. Most of these issues are courtesy of Tyler, one of the detectives you play as. By which I mean, as Tyler, you...um...play basketball. And look for a book.
Yeah. Mostly you just soldier through Tyler's parts (and a couple of Carla's) just to get back to Lucas' far more entertaining story.
Indigo looks a bit dated graphically. Developer Quantic Dream wasn't making things like this back then. But the graphics are functional enough, despite the lack of widescreen support (the game plays in a "letterbox" style anyway). The graphics aren't bad, per se, but they're just not very thrilling. The audio, though, is superb. The voice acting is great; voices ﬁt the people they belong to. (Even Tyler's). The music is by Angelo Badalamenti, a movie composer who also did the music for the classic TV series Twin Peaks. It's an awesome soundtrack; it's very ﬁlm score-like, very epic. One would hope so, seeing as how, again, Indigo Prophecy is mostly movie.
We play games for a variety of reasons. To have fun, to be challenged, to be entertained. Indigo Prophecy may have not-fun QTE's, and it's not very challenging, but it's entertaining. I, for one, generally like Quantic Dream's games; although most are hesitant to call them games, they're still doing something a bit different. Even if it can sometimes be a little hit-and-miss, the point is, you're generally enjoying yourself.
That's really what matters, I think. Whether you view it as an interactive ﬁlm, or a game, or whatever. If you like Heavy Rain and you wanna see it's predecessor, check out Indigo Prophecy. It's cheap these days, and it'll last you a while if you can get into the story.
Next week, I'm FINALLY writing about a game I've wanted to cover since I started these silly articles. It's a Dreamcast RPG...it also appeared on GameCube...anyone?