Developer: Quantic Dream
Release Date: September 6, 2005
This one's a little on the weird side. To quote one of its developers, Indigo Prophecy (a.k.a. Farenheit) is what comes after video games. It's a surreal interactive drama for adults, whereas many modern games are toys, with a score by Angelo Badalamenti (Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway).
It's tempting to call Indigo Prophecy an adventure game, but that doesn't quite sum it up. Instead, it's a game about the decisions you make. Every choice you have throughout the game will have a series of repercussions, from the negligible to the serious, and will determine the way the rest of the story will play out. If you think to do something in Indigo Prophecy, the odds are good that you can do it.
The game begins in New York City, where a series of brutal murders have taken place. Many of the killings have been in public, with ordinary people going into a trance and attacking random strangers.
While he's eating dinner in a diner, Lucas Kane has a sudden vision of a little girl standing in the dark, reaching out her hand as though she's asking him for help. When Lucas snaps out of it, he's got a bloody knife in his hand and he's standing over a dead man he doesn't know. He's the latest murderer.
The best way to describe the gameplay is to use an example, so I'll talk a bit more about this situation. Your role in the game starts here, with a shaken and confused Lucas in the diner's bathroom. Lucas wants to avoid being arrested, so he can get his head together and figure out what's going on. The problem is that there's a cop in the diner.
Given this goal, there're a number of things you can do. The first thing you'll want to do is keep an eye on Lucas' mental health meter, a common feature of all the characters. The lower it goes, the closer to crazy your current character gets, which may close off certain options.
For example, in the diner, Lucas is seriously disturbed. He's just killed a stranger for no reason. If you were to walk up to the cop or the waitress behind the counter, Lucas will stammer incoherently at them. They won't take him seriously unless he's still got blood on his hands, but they'll remember him if someone should ask. They'll also remember him if he tries to leave the diner without paying for his meal.
To calm Lucas down, you need to look around a bit and figure out how you can put him back in control. Taking action to clean up the crime scene will help; you can wash Lucas' hands in the bathroom sink, stow the dead guy in a stall, mop up the blood, and/or hide the murder weapon. Once Lucas is presentable, you can return to his booth and have a cup of coffee, which'll chill him out a bit and get him closer to sane. You can also use the pay phone and try to call Lucas' brother Marcus, but that'll leave a trail.
While you're doing this, you can use a special splitscreen to keep tabs on the action in the diner, just to make sure you're done before anyone else decides to use the men's room. You'll see a lot of splitscreens in Indigo Prophecy, since they see use as a special interactive device.
The basic idea behind all of this is to try to let Lucas get away as cleanly as possible. In the next chapter of the game, the body's been found in the diner. As two more of Indigo Prophecy's playable characters, homicide detectives Carla Valenti and Tyson Miles, your job is now to figure out who killed the man in the bathroom and how to find him. The more evidence you left as Lucas, the easier it'll be for you to find him when you're playing as Carla and Tyson.
In situations where more than one playable character is in an area at once, you can switch between them at the touch of a button. One character may have actions that the other doesn't, or may think to say different things to people. For example, in the diner, Carla will interview the cop about the murder, while Tyson will just ask him for a cup of coffee.
Indigo Prophecy plays out like this over forty-four locations, with your current character's actions determining the course of what'll happen afterwards. If a fight or an action sequence breaks out, such as Lucas resisting arrest or Carla sparring with Tyson in the gym, you'll control the outcome by inputting commands with dual analogue sticks. The direction you push in will control the direction your onscreen character goes, creating a sort of artificial connection between the player and the character.
That's the company's claim, anyway. All I know is that Lucas beat the hell out of some cops in a Quick-Time Event, and it was pretty cool.
I don't know how much Indigo Prophecy will appeal to most players, and I'm leery of the company's claims that it's more than just a game. From what I've seen, though, it's an involving murder mystery that promises to eventually get really creepy and surreal. (It's also sort of ineptly censored in the American version, which is unfortunate.) If Quantic Dream can deliver an experience that's anything like what it claims, this might be one of the few truly innovative titles to come out in 2005.
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