Indigo Prophecy’s absorbing and heartfelt story is worth experiencing.
Time and time again, developers have tried to make a true cinematic experience, but only a few have succeeded in that endeavor. Indigo Prophecy (known outside of North America as Fahrenheit) is one those rare games that succeeds. Although the gameplay has its fair share of issues, Indigo Prophecy has a sophisticated narrative and deep characterization. This is one of those interactive dramas that you spend more time watching than actually playing, but this adventure is so well crafted that you’ll keep pushing forward to see what the rest of this heartfelt story has to offer.
The story is both captivating and disturbing. On a cold night in New York City, a man called Lucas Kane loses consciousness and when he comes to, he realizes that he has stabbed a man to death in the restroom of a local diner. Interestingly, mysterious murders like this have been happening for a while and the main characters set out to uncover the entity behind these crimes. Throughout the game, not only will you assume the role of Lucas, but also FBI agents Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles.
The gameplay is crafted in a way that it makes the game feel like an interactive film. So not only can you move characters, but you can also manipulate the camera and interact with your environments by using context sensitive actions and quick time events. The different environments have a huge level of interactivity. To open a door, for instance, you need to press the left mouse button and then move the cursor as if you were actually opening a door. Every single move or action that the characters perform is reflected in the gameplay somehow.
The game relies heavily on the use of quick time events which can be pretty frustrating if you aren’t fast enough. To dodge an incoming car, for example, you need to press the series of buttons that appears on the screen and if you fail a given sequence, you are forced to replay that part again. QTEs can make certain encounters or fights thrilling and engaging, but most of the times though, this means that you have to rely on your reflexes to succeed.
Apart from interacting with the environments, you can also interact with the people around you. Sometimes you have a limited time to choose a question or provide an answer. Although basic, this system keeps you invested in the story and contributes to the game’s constant feeling of urgency, as if anything could happen next.
Additionally, each of the characters you control has an anxiety meter that’s affected by the choices you make. As its name suggests, this meter indicates your characters’ mental health and if one of your characters falls into depression, he or she will commit suicide. To a certain extent, the way in which this meter works is quite simplistic. For instance, if you talk to someone after a hard day of work and that person tells you that you look exhausted, the meter will drop a bit. On the other hand, kissing a significant other, listening to music, drinking your character’s favorite beverage or taking a shower will raise the meter.
Including a meter that reacts positively or negatively according to your actions is a compelling idea, but when your meter is really low, it’s hard to take risks. As a consequence, you’ll think twice before exploring the environments or talking to certain NPC’s, because that might lower your sanity meter. Sadly, the anxiety meter is a mechanic that doesn’t impact your playthrough that much. Even if your character is feeling overwrought (one of the lowest points in the meter,) this doesn’t have a physical repercussion on your character, which seems a little incongruous.
Despite some simplistic mechanics, Indigo Prophecy has a cinematic flair that’s reflected in pretty much every aspect of the game, including the camera, visuals, storytelling, character development and even the user interface menus. Sometimes, and to indicate that multiple events are taking place at the same time, the screen is divided into different parts and each of these parts highlights something different.
Sadly, a few simplistic mechanics aren’t Indigo Prophecy’s only problem. Timed missions are the most frustrating portions of the game, since you have a limited time to figure out what you need to do in order to progress with the story. If you fail, you’re forced to retry everything from the last checkpoint. Luckily, the game auto-saves quite often, but you still need to replay that section again. QTE’s can also become quite frustrating, especially since the controls on the PC (mouse and keyboard) don’t feel as precise as they should be.
In the end, Indigo Prophecy’s absorbing and heartfelt story is worth experiencing. But in order to be exposed to that story, you have to put up with cumbersome controls and various gameplay quirks. Despite those issues, Indigo Prophecy is a game crafted with care and that painstaking attention to detail permeates every aspect of this mature adventure.