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Games That Nobody Plays Anymore: Indigo Prophecy/ Fahrenheit

Because Heavy Rain is launching everywhere in February, I thought I’d take a look at Quantic Dream’s other creation. It’s a dark, gritty and stylized vision with a story that is the main piece of the puzzle. Videogames don’t often sacrifice gameplay for a better story, but Fahrenheit is one of those few titles which may pushes that sacrifice way too far. You can make a story interesting, you can make characters all masterfully created, but at the end of the day, we play videogames for cold hearted fun. Most of the time we want to shoot people in the face, or commit violent acts of murder, but Fahrenheit is also one of the view titles to put it in realistic perspective. You may have been desensitized from all of the other videogames out there, as this one actually challenges you to think about the people you murder. Within the first few minutes of the game, you’ve stabbed a middle-aged bloke to death and you have no idea why. It’s also one of the best intros I’ve seen in years, with it building up to the first scene with some brilliant cinematography. It’s one of those intros that settles you into the mood, while also being a memorable sequence.

The way you play Indigo Prophecy is… uhmm well you… uhmmm. It’s very difficult to explain, and I would make the comparison to Heavy Rain but it’s nothing like that. There’s no real explanation or tutorial, you’re left to discover it yourself, but the basic premise is this. You play as the bloke who murders a guy in a diner, you don’t know why, but in ten minutes flat you’re mopping up the mess you’ve made and hiding all the evidence. After leaving the diner, with the option to talk to people there, the whole story flips on to the other side of the coin. You now play as two police officers who are investigating the murder, who slowly unravel the mystery as they track you down. To control your characters you… do a variety of actions and movement. It’s terrible hard to explain and yet so simply learned, even without a tutorial, you’re constantly kept on your toes in the heat of the action. Sometimes you’ll be baffled at what to do, fail and then keep retrying until you get it right. Which isn’t fun at all.

The three white dots up there? You see them? They signalise the amount of failures you’re allowed to make before you get six feet under (and the ability to respawn). It’s a unique title, probably more purposely built towards to the pace of the game, which is something to admire. I’ve never played a game with such slow pace, but without any actual satisfaction at plot points. The plot, by the way, isn’t exactly all genius and brilliant writing, although some scenes are truly beautiful. Simply put, the plot has its moments, but it falls short on many aspects. For instance, you can leave behind clues or not perform some of the actions, when cleaning up the first body, as Lucas (the guy who murders). This means that when you control the cops, you can easily find the trail and quickly zip to the next scene. I guess they were going for a ”you are the gear who shifts the story”, but in all honesty, it doesn’t feel right. You’ll hear characters then babble on about plot and philosophy and blah blah blah why are we doing this? Why isn’t this compelling? All the pieces are in the right place, it almost mirrors the concept of BioShock, and yet I get no feeling of ‘change’ or constant pace. It all feels too slow, like I’m being drip-fed a very adequate meal. If you want me to sum it up, Indigo Prophecy/ Fahrenheit is boring. BORING. BORING. GOD I’M SO BORED THIS IS SO BORING.

I know what they’re trying to do, I know that the story somewhat picks up in pace, then falls flat on its face. I have been used to very long, boring but eventual satisfaction from videogames. It’s the reason I still play some RPGs. Mass Effect doesn’t really count, as I have a disease that makes me just want to categorize everything and label every weapon and object in that universe. I fall in love with interesting characters, some of those I connect with, either through maybe sympathy or just bromance. I end up having a relationship with the people I’m seeing on screen, what they’re saying goes on for eternity, but when they’ve finished talking, it’s nice. It’s exactly like writing for me, I hate it, I truly do. The only good bits are when you get the idea, and when you’re finished. you can just sit back and smile at your masterpiece. Sometimes that feeling transfers to videogames, and only once it’s actually moved me to tears. But hear, in Indigo Prophecy, I feel no movement or chemistry between me and the characters. We can’t bond or relate and I don’t sympathise with any of them. It may be down to bad writing or slow pace, maybe I’m missing something. The only guy I kinda liked was Tyler, who made some clever jokes and quips, as the male police dude.

I’m being too mean you know, this game is probably more of a stepping stone for what Heavy Rain may be. There is a tutorial, which doesn’t totally put into perspective what you do in the real game world, but it’s there. I’m being mean, I’m slapping David Cage around. There’s some tremendous moments in this but it all feels, of all the things in the world, dated, themes and plot development seems to get lost under the horde of the pacing. At the end of this experience, I was trying to look back on what was good. You know what, I did think I discovered something. Something which I think belongs JUST in this title, not even in Heavy Rain.

Meters.

Throughout the course of the game, the decisions and paths you take will benefit your depression and sanity meters. If dropped low enough, characters will act differently, and if on the lowest scale, the game will fail. One of the ways you fail is shocking, brutal and completely takes you by surprise. I won’t spoil it, but maybe just push Lucas a little bit too far at one point. I think what you have to remember with Indigo Prophecy, Fahrenheit, Celsius etc. is that it is a unique experience. It’s not exactly game changing, it doesn’t shift your hopes and dreams for our little medium, it is what it is. It has its moments, which can be quite utterly brilliant, but it also has its tendency to just slowly push you along the game. It’s not that long of a game, but the pacing is a lot like being a rock, and being pushed up a hill by a cockroach. It’s slow, unsatisfying and what’s the point? But it’s still a brave spectacle of a thing, and that cockroach keeps going and I lost where I was going with this analogy.

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  • This was one of my favorite games for the original Xbox. I now own it on STEAM and it looks even better.

  • Ben Hiebing

    As much as I love this game I have to admit it has some big problems and I agree with most of your criticisms. However I am interested to hear what you thought changed in the game based on your sanity meter. I have played the game 3 times and I never really noticed my character acting differently.