Developed by: Quantic Dream
Genre: Adventure/Interactive Movie
Platform: PS2, Xbox, PC
Rating: BBFC 15 (UK), ESRB M (US)
Original release date: 20 Sept 2005
SoS mission date: 22 Dec 2006
Where to get it: The game is still generally available for PS2, Xbox and PC. There are both standard and limited edition packages available in the UK. You should be able to pick it up reasonably cheaply from most software shops. It is also completely backward-compatible with the Xbox 360. It is also available for download via Microsoft’s Xbox Originals service on the Xbox 360 Marketplace for 1,200 Microsoft Points.
Original briefing by Papapishu (22/12/2006)
Baaaaaby it's cold outsiiiiiide...
The SoS is active after a few months of going AWOL. And we are back to see this year off with style. What better way to do it than with one of the most innovative games of last gen: Indigo Prophecy.
Some of our more enthusiastic squad members, including Pvt. Timmy, and the recently outed operative Jedi, have taken it upon themselves to scout out the territory ahead. According to initial reports, the game is now functioning on Nex Gen hardware, so all our 360-wielding squadmembers can be confident in their selection.
>Pick up Prozac.
One of the few games in the last gen to truly innovate, the current target, contrary to what people believe, actually went gold. Still, a good number of our squadmembers have been clamoring, so we decided to take the plunge.
I won't ruin it for you, but expect a lot of tension, a (mostly) well developed plot, and an experience that, like a great book, will get it's hooks in you from the begining and won't let go until you are done.
You will be provided the following:
* Mittens. One pair. Fluffy. It's quite cold.
* Soundtrack to 24. One copy. Play it in the background. You'll see.
* Mittens. Another pair. Have I mentioned it's cold?
* CSI blacklight. One. Don't turn it on in any hotel rooms.
Good luck, squad.
Squad Archivist Report
Many gamers have been sounding the death-knell of the traditional adventure game for many years, with many different reasons being cited for it - from the rise of 3D graphics to the CD-ROM revolution to a simple decline in interest in the genre. This, to many of us in the Squad, is a great shame, as traditional adventures have, in the past, provided some of the very best in story-led interactive entertainment, with LucasArts and Sierra being the clear leaders of the pack for many years.
And so it was that we came to Fahrenheit, also known as Indigo Prophecy in the US, one of a breed of games that some people refer to as “Adventure Plus”. What this generally means is that it shares many concepts in common with more traditional adventure games but also packs in as many “modern” features as it can to make it seem more like an evolution of the genre rather than the perceived “staleness” of the graphic adventure style. Of course, many people would much rather we see a return to the traditional adventures of yore, but for now we have to make do with stuff like this.
And it’s good. Clearly desperate to be a movie rather than a straight game (the main menu even has a “New Movie” option as opposed to “New Game”), Fahrenheit is one of the most cinematic titles out there, thanks largely to some excellent writing along with some innovative, interesting direction. 24-style multiple camera angles abound, but they’re always there for a reason - to point out important objects, to reflect a time limit in a scene or simply for dramatic effect. And it’s these nice little touches that elevate Fahrenheit to something more than an easily-forgotten wannabe adventure.
One of the best things about the narrative is its multiple perspectives on the events which are unfolding. The game opens with one of the main characters murdering someone and the first moments revolve around you controlling him as he escapes from the scene of the crime. Shortly afterwards, you find yourself returning to the scene of the crime as two police officers investigating the murder... and the game jumps back and forth between these multiple perspectives as it progresses, allowing you to see the events unfolding through the eyes of all the characters. This is, as they say, A Good Thing.
Another cool thing about the narrative is that it doesn’t just look at the “dramatic” stuff. Like a good movie, Fahrenheit also shows you the characters “at rest” - at home in their apartment, spending time with their friends and so on. Many of these scenes aren’t particularly relevant to the “big plot” as such but it gives you a greater understanding of the individual characters - their motivations, their personality and so on. This makes it all the more powerful when these characters get involved in the more dramatic events of the narrative.
Action sequences are handles through Shenmue-style “Quick Time Event” sequences where dramatic action unfolds in the style of a cutscene but the player is forced to wrestle with the joypad throughout the course of the scene. While these sequences, in terms of gameplay, consist of little more than playing Simple Simon, the fact that the motions you are performing with the controller “feel” right adds a great deal to the immersiveness of these sequences. It’s also pretty cool that these sequences can pop up any time - the whole game is “shot” in letterboxed widescreen so there’s no distinction between “gameplay” and “cutscene”, meaning that there’s never a safe moment to put down the joypad and just watch.
Soul-Hero left us a good comment on the game which sums up the experience of playing it:
“I'll just pop in to say that Indigo Prophecy is right up there with Half-Life 2 as one of my favorite all-time modern games. It truly scratches the surface of art in games, and, until the very end, carries that groove all the way through. Certain scenes (particularly the bank interrogation) garners emotions similar to those found in great thrillers, but with the added layer of weight that you are controlling the outcome - not just watching it unfold. I felt compassion, pride, anxiety, and surprise that went beyond the animalistic levels most games achieve. And, although most of what was cut out was just sex scenes, I still wish the full, original game had been released here. But alas, such is life in post-9/11 America.
If nothing else, this game reinvigorated my love of adventure games. A fruitless want, to be sure, but hope springs eternal. Now I just have to wait for Heavy Rain. I just hope adventure games don't ultimately go the way of Latin or the letter.”
It’s not without its flaws - let’s be clear about that. The ending is ridiculous, for one. There are numerous conspiracy theories about this, most of them revolving around Atari pressuring the developers to finish the bloody thing and get it shipped. I won’t spoil it here, but suffice it to say that it’s almost completely incongruous with the rest of the narrative.
Other flaws? Animation. Animation is fabulous in the cutscenes, conversations and the like - thank you, motion capture - so why, in the walky-roundy investigatey bits, does everyone look like they’ve shat themselves? It’s arguably a minor point, but it’s somewhat grating when the rest of the game’s animation is so slick, smooth and realistic.
Then there’s several stealth sections. This is a particular bugbear of those who long for a return to traditional adventure gaming, and they’re no better here. They feel tacked on, they’re too difficult and they feel like “padding”.
Fortunately, these flaws aren’t enough to ruin the game by any means. Sure, the plot takes something of a nosedive in the last hour or so of gameplay but as a whole package, it’s an example that adventure gaming CAN still work and CAN still be interesting. More than that, it shows that good storytelling in a movie-like manner is possible using video gaming as a medium and that you don't have to resort to gameplay cliches (except stealth, it seems) in order to tell a compelling yet interactive tale.