My brother introduced me to Indigo Prophecy
, or Fahrenheit
as it's known everywhere else, in the summer of 2007. I think he picked it up on a whim in some bargain bin for PS2 games, but it ended up being the
game of our summer. It was remaster in 2015, and I finally sat down for another replay last night.
When I first played Indigo Prophecy
, it was a completely different game than I had ever played before. I tended towards puzzle games and action-adventure platformers, with a little Sims
action when I wanted to waste a weekend--Playing a game for a story was a video game experience that, until recently, had little appeal to me. But the setting, the characters, and the opening sequences did a lot to pull me in, and Indigo Prophecy
became one of those games that stayed with me over the years.
The developers, Qunatic Dream, also did Heavy Rain
and Beyond Two Souls
, but Indigo Prophecy
was their first "interactive film," as they called it. It's a pretty apt description--Much of the gameplay is like an extended interactive cutscene, with a little bit of a point-and-click (or point-and-rotate-the-analog-stick, as the case tends to be) and minor exploring with a semi-fixed camera.
You play as three different characters: suspected murderer Lucas Kane is essentially the main protagonist, but detectives Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles are active players in the story. There's also a meter that tracks their mental state--Certain tasks have to be performed to give them emotional boosts, and if the meter gets too low, it can have disastrous effects, including death.
I'm not going to delve too much into the story details since synopses are readily available. Also because the story can change pretty dramatically depending on your choices and game performance--Failing a sequence, for instance, doesn't necessarily mean "death," nor are you necessarily able to reload to "fix" any mistakes. When I was reminiscing with my brother, he mentioned that there were at least six different endings that he knew of. If you want a game where your choices matter, this is a good one.
But I do want to touch on a few points: I remember when I first played that I was a little underwhelmed with the conclusion of the story, and that is still true today even after achieving a few different endings. A paranormal murder mystery is essentially what kicks off the plot, and although it's a little overwrought with the human sacrifice imagery, it's a pretty tight and somber kickoff. The conclusion loses some of the cohesion, and frankly, it gets a little silly. I think it's one of those situations like with Lost
where the mystery is far more compelling than the answer. And although I'm normally a proponent of a happy ending, I actually think the darker endings are a better match to the overall tone.
The game has a decent spread of representation, but in some cases it feels like one-step-forward, two-steps-back. A lot of the "minority" characters fell on tired and arguably offensive tropes. Tyler, for instance: black male, excels as basketball, has this funky smooth disco music that plays whenever he's strutting in a location, and his backstory was summed up as former gang runner turned cop. Carla has a white gay BFF who comes over for wine and talks about her love life (although he does mention that he's involved in a promising relationship himself, which is nice). Carla, who I think is otherwise well-written, gets reduced to being shoehorned into a ridiculous romance at the end of the game that makes no sense for her character or the story. And one of the driving points of the paranormal plot falls back on Mayan sacrifice cliches.
Although I wasn't personally bothered, there are also a few scenes with Carla where you could make a strong argument that the male gaze was workin' its magic. (For what it's worth, I think the treatment of Madison in Heavy Rain was far more egregious in that respect.) You get to play each character in their underwear at least once, with the option to dress them pretty quickly if you want, and there are multiple heterosexual love scenes with both parties fully nude. The biggest difference I noticed was with the shower scenes--With Tyler and Lucas, the camera almost completely pans away, and with Carla, we get a sexy silhouette and a pixel nip slip.
The camera angles can get a little frustrating--Think Resident Evil
with a little more control and at least no need to aim and shoot at anything--and sometimes the analog rotation can feel a little unresponsive. Additionally, I find the UI immersion-breaking; Quantic Dream really
improved upon that balance of aesthetic and function in Heavy Rain
. Having these Simon Says-looking buttons
dead-center in the screen is not very pretty. But I found the overall gameplay to be fun and well-balanced. It did a good job of complementing the story, and some of the long fight sequences that rely solely on you hitting the right button are more challenging that more traditional gameplay.
The game has a Metacritic aggregate of about 85%, which is spot-on in my opinion. It was definitely worth the replay, and I'm invested in exploring a few other outcomes. A full run took me about 9 hours, so playing it takes a little less time than watching a season of a modern TV show. It does save in chapters, too, so if you want to branch off into different outcomes, it can be done without replaying the whole thing. I'd recommend it if you're looking for an engaging and non-traditional gaming experience that can be wrapped up in ten hours or less.