|Platforms||Xbox, PS2, Windows|
|MtAMinutes to Action||4|
|Score||8 Gameplay: 7
Fun Factor: 7
|Buy from Amazon|
Indigo Prophecy (also known as Fahrenheit to the rest of the world), is a Shenmue-esque psychological, crime, and investigation thriller taking place during a New York City winter. I consider the Shenmue comparison a compliment as the gamplay techniques used in these types of games can lead to some very fun experiences. But at the same time, this style is not for everyone. We will see how well the developer Quantic Dream pulls off this gameplay in the first hour of Indigo Prophecy.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - New game and the all important opening begins with what appears to be cherry blossom petals falling down with the developer and publisher names doing their fade in and out. There's a voice over undoubtedly foreshadowing all the events in the game, but I'm paying more attention to the beautiful New York City cityscape in the distance. The game sure looks great and it's obvious the artists spent a lot of time on this scene. It's made an impact on me at least.
01 - Snow is falling heavily and the lights of the city are blurred. The credits begin
fading in and out very movie-like. Reminds me of the cinematic opening of Metal Gear Solid 3.
02 - The camera begins following a crow and it lands on bathroom window and we get our first look at the crime scene. Of course, it's not a crime scene yet. There's a man at a urinal and another in a stall. My controller starts vibrating to the rhythm of a heartbeat. I'm starting to get into this.
03 - The man in the stall opens the door - brandishing a knife! He staggers towards the man who is now washing his hands; the screen is flickering between different scenes of terror. *STAB* The man falls to the floor and the killer climbs on top of him, stabbing him in the heart! (it sounds violent, and it is, but it doesn't look too gruesome)
04 - Suddenly, the man realizes what he's done, his trance-like mood is snapped and he starts freaking out (so am I!). A meter appears in the bottom right and it looks like the man is going into depression. I'm immediately reminded of the sanity meter and how much that set Eternal Darkness apart from other horror games. I gain control of the killer and the action begins! I begin with dragging the dead body into the stall next to the one I occupied just a minute before (even this first action I take seems to affect future events - more on that later).
05 - I am now able to interact with the bathroom using the man: I can wash my hands, dry them, look at myself in the mirror; it's all very Shenmue. I wash off the blood on my hands and regain a little sanity.
06 - There's a broom in the corner and I grab it to wash the floor. It seems mildly effective (another decision that will have affects on near future events). All of a sudden the screen goes split screen (24 style) and we see a police officer get up from his seat in a diner and start walking. By the tense music that begins and the timer that appears on top of the screen, the cop is undoubtedly walking towards me in the bathroom! This is actually really freaky and done really well. For the next few seconds I look around the room trying to find anything else I can do.
07 - I check the window, no luck, it's barred. I'm basically out of time and by the time I make it to the door, the cop enters. I dash out as he walks in and haul out of the diner by just running straight. As I run out, the waitress yells that I didn't pay and then the split screen reveals the cop finding the body! As I dash into the snowy NYC night, the cop starts yelling about no one leaving the diner and how there's been a crime. I wouldn't be able to hear him normally but the split screen allows me to see what's still going on in the bathroom.
08 - I run around town for a bit, keeping more of an eye on the other screen showing the cop checking the body. The whole time the music is pumping and my heart is racing.
09 - I climb into a taxi and tell the driver to head for Brooklyn. It seems I have escaped for now.
10 - If this blog were called "The First Ten Minutes", I would award Indigo Prophecy an easy 10 out of 10. But there's still 50 minutes left - plenty of time to let me down. Back to the game, two people arrive in a car outside the diner I just ran out of. From the sounds of it, they're the investigating police. I then get control of the female cop, looks like I'll be investigating myself!
11 - We get a look into her thoughts, she "feels" that something is different. Well obviously, otherwise we wouldn't be playing it.
12 - Together, we enter the diner and I walk over to the male cop and start up a conversation. The conversation is interactive like how Mass Effect's dialog promises to be. It should be mentioned that (on the Xbox at least) nearly all interaction with the world is done with the right thumbstick. So if you want to pick something up, you wander over to the object with the left thumbstick and sort of press up on the right thumbstick like you're picking it up.
13 - The game allows me to switch to the male cop, Tyler, on the fly, which is definitely a cool concept in a non-platformer.
14 - After walking around for a moment, I switch back to the female cop, Carla. I suddenly notice something, maybe it was my excitement before that let me overlook it, but the controls for walking are pretty wonky. The camera is very different from your typical 3D adventure and your character never seems to go where I want him to go except when walking totally straight. Indigo Prophecy seems to have inherited some of the bad gameplay aspects of Shenmue, unfortunately.
15 - I begin some investigation work, starting with the waitress who saw me run out. She can remember my (the killer's) face and figure perfectly, which is not good for me; I think.
18 - After speaking with the waitress for a few minutes and gathering some more information about the victim, I take Carla and check out the table where the killer had been sitting.
19 - Carla finds a few things of note on the table and I head into the restroom.
20 - The crime scene looks the same to Carla, but I can interact with things differently. However, the camera is jumping around and I have a hard time zeroing in on objects of interest.
21 - I switch between Carla and Tyler and find something intriguing: each investigator can find different clues and they comment on objects differently. This makes the crime scene more interesting as I can now look at it through a third pair of eyes.
22 - Besides the investigation, the officer pair begin bantering revealing their characters thoughts and motives.
26 - I feel like I've finally investigated everything in the bathroom with both officers. We found the murder weapon (knife from the diner), the killer's blood in the stall next to the victim's, and the broom I used to mop up with. The officers question each other on who's blood it may be. It seems that my first action has unusual repercussions: if I had dragged the body to the stall the killer had bled in, the question on who's blood is this would never have come up!
29 - I leave the diner after having Tyler check all the evidence in the restaurant, I think I've found everything. Turns out there's also an emergency door in the back, maybe if I had run out there in the first place the waitress would never have seen me...
30 - The game switches back to the killer, Lucas, he's waking up in a mess of bloody sheets. He's decided to go to work, but his sanity meter tells me he's depressed. I find him some pills to take and listen to the radio for a minute, he recovers a little.
31 - As I explore Lucas' apartment, I find a ton of things to interact with. This is spoiled some by the flaky controls, much like how Shenmue was spoiled too.
32 - The phone rings and I use the split screen to help me find the phone. The answering machine picks up first, but I'm able to interrupt it. It's a friend, we decide to meet in a park to discuss my situation.
33 - I check out the newspaper and find my story is on the front page. Really? A murder on the front page of a New York newspaper?
34 - Lucas says out loud (reminding me) that he can't go to work all bloody. I head into the bathroom and bandage up, turns out Lucas slit his wrists while under the trance and that's why there was so much blood in his bathroom stall.
35 - I look in the mirror and the victim's face appears next to mine! Freaky! It's easy to tell that this is more than a typical murder and that there's going to be a lot of psychological things going on.
37 - A policeman appears at the door, at least I think. A bunch of colors appear on the screen and flash like the Simon game. A moment later it says I failed. Failed what?
38 - Controls are still bothering me while walking around the apartment.
39 - Lucas experiences a flashback from last night, hard to forget that. I see the dirty clothes from last night and the game provides a split screen of the washing machine. I feel like I'm playing The Sims.
40 - Suddenly, a police man is really knocking at my door! He yells at me to open up and a timer starts. It's getting tense again as I gotta make sure it doesn't look like I'm hiding anything. I run into the bedroom and make my bed quick to hide all the blood.
42 - I open the door to the cop and a suspicion meter appears. He starts asking me questions and I think I'm answering them "wrong" because his suspicion is starting to rise quickly. The officer said the neighbors heard screaming and called the police. He asks if he can come in and I let him.
43 - The cop checks out the bathroom and then the bedroom. It's an intense moment as he opens those doors because I may have forgotten something. Turns out, everything is okay and he leaves. Phew. I leave too to meet my friend.
44 - At this point I can continue Lucas' story or take control of Carla, the female police officer. I choose Carla. Reminds me of the moment in Final Fantasy VI where you choose between three different groups, but you have to complete them all eventually. However, it's not clear in Indigo Prophecy if you will have to complete all characters to continue on. She's heading into work this morning at the precinct to start further investigation. The office is huge and I wander around for a while.
47 - There's less interaction here and I'm feeling overwhelmed by the amount of doors and offices. I finally find Carla and Tyler's office and head in. I get to play Yo-Yo! Once again, I think of Shenmue and all the little minigames that provided.
48 - Carla calls Tyler and he's still in bed. The game switches control to him and I navigate his way around the apartment. The game is throwing a lot of new areas at me, but this one is easier to manage than the station.
49 - Tyler says he needs a shower so I maneuver him over to it. While showering (non-graphic), there's a really weird split screen of Tyler in the shower and his girlfriend/wife getting up and making coffee. Weird not only for the content but also for the funky music accompanying it.
53 - I finally get Tyler to the office and talk with a co-worker. I'm able to respond to the conversation with different emotions and responses, making it totally unique.
54 - Carla and Tyler discuss the crime and continue their investigation. Turns out the waitress is coming in to help draw a composite picture of the killer (Lucas).
57 - Carla mentions she needs to check her email, indicating something important is in there obviously. Ah, a mysterious email concerning "Kristen". Of course.
58 - The game switches back to Lucas, he's at a park now. I walk forward and start a conversation with a man, it's Lucas' brother, Markus, a priest.
59 - Lucas explains his story to Markus but his brother is afraid to get involved at all. That seems pretty obvious to me when your brother was in a "trance" and murdered someone in cold blood!
60 - As the last action of the hour, Markus offers Lucas his cross necklace. I have the choice of taking it or not, but I take it. It must have been a good choice because I get an extra life from it! Seriously.
The hour is up, didn't quite end with a bang like the first three did, but here's my ratings out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 4
The controls really bothered me. They bothered me in Shenmue too and I was hopeful this wouldn't suffer the same problems, but it does. It may even be worse thanks to the "cinematic" camera that jumps around at times causing you to walk into a wall, or at least anywhere but where I'm trying to go. The game does get extra points for using the right thumbstick in unique ways and exploring the multiple characters.
Fun Factor: 7
The game has its tense moments, but after the first ten minutes, they were and far between. The scenes with Lucas seem so much more interesting than Tyler and Carla; in the first hour, Lucas is the story and the investigation just isn't that exciting. Maybe that will change but the first hour seemed almost unbalanced.
The graphics peaked at the opening (I'm not sure if it was an FMV or not), but the game looked great. The characters looked pretty real and the environments were created with care. Some of the textures seemed rather bland, and movement seemed stiff at times. The game has a very cinematic feel to it.
The story seems very deep and involved, especially since it is being told from multiple viewpoints. It has a lot of potential, but the first hour sets the stage perfectly.
Overall First Hour: 8
The first hour of Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit) started at such a great pace that it just couldn't keep up. Sluggish controls and sudden boredom at the 45 minute mark keep this game from scoring higher, but it's still a very respectable and fun first hour. The developer Quantic Dream put together an intense and intriguing opening that loses its edge too quickly. The voice actors, however, did a great job as well as the art team, creating a snowy New York City. The gameplay is original and the control scheme is inventive, as long as it doesn't become a gimmick or crutch to lead the game on, I think the rest of the game will be worth it. Indigo Prophecy is a cinematic experience available on the PC, Xbox, and PS2. For those fans waiting for Shenmue 3, this seems like the Western equivalent of the series. Let us just hope the rest of the game can match the intensity of the first hour.