Feb 04 2013
If you follow my blog or my Twitter account, my love for video game developer Quantic Dream is obviously not a secret. It’s the type of love that compels me to pre-order their games as soon as it’s announced. I really like how they make their games into ‘interactive movies.’ Gameplay and combat mechanics are very simple since the experience is focused on controlling and making the story your own as you make choices throughout the game.
I was a fan of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series growing up, so these types of games really appeal to me. Whenever I play a Quantic Dream game, I feel like my choices really mattered and I could definitely feel the consequences ripple as I progress. It’s realistic in a way wherein it’s not only the big decisions that count, but also the small and seemingly trivial ones. To be fair, they only release stand alone games so it’s quite easier for them to take into account almost every choice as opposed to BioWare since their games have sequels. However, I think it’s still amazing how Quantic Dream can make the narrative so dynamic to the player’s choice regardless if it’s a stand alone title.
With the upcoming release of Beyond: Two Souls and the subtle revelation of Quantic Dream’s PS4 title Singularity, I look back at the video game that prompted this love story of mine- Indigo Prophecy a.k.a Fahrenheit. I would have loved to say Omikron: The Nomad Soul, but I was only five years old when that came out. Anyway, Indigo Prophecy was released in 2005 for the Xbox, PS2, and the PC. It’s basically a paranormal thriller wherein a string of random yet similar (in methodology) murders start to happen in New York City. The gameplay is largely similar to Heavy Rain and Tell Tale’s The Walking Dead. The player can control three characters throughout the game, depending on what part they are in. It starts off as a cat and mouse chase, but eventually the story unfolds to reveal a far more sinister plot. I recommend giving this game a try if you’re generally a fan of story-telling in video games. Once again, beware of spoilers!
In the beginning of the game, we are introduced to one of the protagonists Lucas Kane as he helplessly commits a murder in a trance like state. The player takes control of Lucas right after the murder when he realizes what he has done. A brief clip of a police officer sitting inside the building is shown. So, what did I do? I hid the body, cleaned myself up, and ran past the police officer near the front door to get out there as soon as possible! It turns out, I did a lot of stupid things. Shortly after escaping, I’m now controlling Carla Valenti and Tyler Milers who are both police officers called because of the murder. I discovered all my failures as Lucas through various observation and interrogations I made as the two officers. I didn’t hide the murder weapon, I didn’t let Lucas pay his bill, and I let him run out the front door instead of using the back exit. While I did a good job as a police officer, I totally made it easier for the other characters to catch Lucas. The prologue does an excellent job at showing what to expect from this game. Dialogue choices aren’t the only factors because what you DO counts as well.
Gameplay is pretty simple, it’s basically walking around and interacting with people and objects in the level. During key moments in the game, players only need to respond to the prompts by pressing buttons or pointing the analog sticks to certain directions. It gets quite challenging though as you progress in the game, because you’ll need to respond a lot faster to the prompts. Dialogue system is timed, so you can’t take your sweet time. I like having dialogue choices timed mostly because it makes it more realistic. Whenever I play games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, I sometimes make a sandwich or walk around to think when I’m faced with a hard decision. One fun aspect of the combat in the gameplay was the Matrix-like fight sequences. It’s hard to take seriously, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
I’m not going to spoil the story of the game simply because it’s better if you discover it on your own. Plus, it’s always fun to play a game like this completely unaware of what’s really happening. Instead, I’ll expound on some of the other aspects I really enjoyed in the game. I really liked the mini-games outside of the combat aspect. Some of them are pretty humorous, while others are pretty scary. One spooky part was when Carla was momentarily stuck inside an asylum. All the lights went off and the inmates were wandering around since the blackout opened all their cell doors. If I’m not mistaken, Carla has this fear towards the dark or isolation so you had to control her panic attack. In the mini-game, you had to control her breathing using the left and right trigger while trying to find your way out. That part really creeped me out since I’m personally afraid of asylums.
Despite the dark themes present in the game, there are some humorous and light hearted moments that balances out the experience. For example, you have these mini-games wherein Carla exercises in the gym, Tyler dances with his girlfriend Sam, or Lucas simply playing the guitar in his apartment. There’s also a bonus feature in the main menu where you see all the characters even the evil ones dancing to a track featured in the game. Yes, it’s a mini-game too! I suggest watching it only after finishing the game since it’ll be more funny because you wouldn’t imagine some of the characters doing something like this after getting to know them. So yeah, this game can make you laugh and smile too.
Anyway, you can interact with almost anything in the environment. Early on, I figured this out in Lucas’ apartment since I can interact with a lot of things like the computer, sink, washing machine, and guitar among many other things. This ties in with what I said about “what you DO also matters” since a simple decision of using the washing machine or playing the guitar well can alter some events. There’s also this feature called “Mental State” in the game. There are several states like calm, stressed or anxious if I’m not mistaken. If you keep making choices or doing things that’s not healthy to your state of mind, then your mental state suffers which leads to a “game over.” If I switched on the television or read the newspaper as Lucas and saw the murder being reported, it will affect Lucas’ mental state. Another example is if I fail Carla’s panic attack mini-games, that drastically reduces her state of mind. The addition of the mental state dynamic is an interesting addition that I enjoyed having in the game.
I think it’s unfair for me to close this article without mentioning the “love scenes” in the game. I actually didn’t know it existed, until my friend told me that it was available in her version of the game. She had the European version which was titled “Fahrenheit” while I had the North American version. One of the love scenes actually prompts you to use the analog stick at certain points. Well, I don’t really know what the outcome was if you played it “well” or not but I guess it’s purely for entertainment. One thing I should mention though, you’ll only get a particular love scene if you play the guitar well. I know I’ve said a million times that actions matter too, but I think it’s interesting how some decisions we think are trivial can lead to unexpected outcomes. Well, men playing a guitar and bedding a woman doesn’t seem that hard to connect but you get my point.
I hope you guys who haven’t heard of this game will give this a chance. It’s a really great game and normally I feature flawed gems for Video Game Rewind, but this is an exception. If you’re planning to get it on the PC, the game is more compatible with a PlayStation controller than its Xbox counterpart. Anyway, if you’ve already played this game then I know some of you won’t have any problems with playing this game for another run. I remember I get the urge to play the game again whenever I hear the song Santa Monica by Theory of a Deadman.
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