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Games I Own: Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy

Posted on 13th Jan 2010 at 10:51 by Joe Martin with 13 comments

If you live in America then you’ll know Quantic Dream’s murderous adventure game as Indigo Prophecy, which it was re-named to in order to distance it from Fahrenheit 9/11. In Europe it’s released (in an uncut version that adds a bit of naughtiness) as Fahrenheit. That’s the version I own, so that’s what I call it. Fahrenheit; one of my favourite adventure games.

It’s not a perfect game, by any means. In fact it is downright bad in some places and the plot, which focuses on multiple characters caught up in the wake of a murder, unravels and strays hideously in the latter stages. It’s a sad result of the game, which was planned as an episodic title, being rushed to a retail release by the publisher before some chapters had been finished. It still makes sense, it just requires a bit of effort.

There are a few different characters you control in the game and the main one is a man called Lucas Kane who comes out of a trance in a New York diner to find that he’s just murdered a man. Unable to recollect the experience, Lucas flees – but not before players are given a window of interaction. The first scene of the game immediately follows the murder and lets players decide how Lucas acts. Will he hide the murder weapon? Wash the blood off his hands? Bolt out of the emergency exit and flee or return to his table, calmly pay his cheque and try to avoid suspicion?

Games I Own: Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy
Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy if you prefer

Once Lucas leaves the murder scene the viewpoint switches to that of Tyler and Carla, the two detectives investigating the murder. You can switch between both characters and are given similar free roam as to how much evidence you collect – most of which you hid just moments before. You question witnesses and, for the bulk of the game, try to identify Lucas and track him down. When you aren’t playing as a cop though then you’re Lucas, desperately trying to discover the truth behind the murderous trance and to clear your name. Meanwhile New York descends into a permanent winter, more murders occur and the city empties as life grind to a halt.


Fahrenheit isn’t as free-roaming and open-ended as it sounds and the plot is instead what Quantic Dream call ‘elastic’. The plot demands that the cops eventually close in on Lucas (though that’s far from the end of the story), but you can decide exactly how that is done and earn points and extras by guiding the story. Will your case be built on collected fingerprints and DNA or something else? There’s a great deal of control available to you within the linear elements and Quantic Dream has used small, detailed environments to great effect – something endlessly preferable to large, bland areas.

When the game was released though it wasn’t this fantastically pliable story that got all the attention; it was the action scenes and controls, which require quick reflexes. There are parts of the game where fights or chases erupt and here Fahrenheit uses Dance Dance Revolution-type controls where you have to match patterns as they appear on screen. They are pretty easy and, I think, effective in creating an empathy for the characters, nor are they as simple as “You didn’t press X, so you died.” Instead, you can control the way the scene unfolds based on which sequences you hit.

Games I Own: Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy
So little time...

My favourite scene is one early in the game, where Lucas is being chased and runs to a nearby elevator. An enemy jumps at him from the left and the screen indicate you quickly press the rightmost buttons to avoid it. Something swings from above, you hammer the lower buttons to slide out of the way. You reach the elevator and press the uppermost buttons to summon the lift. Nothing happens and enemies surround you, making Lucas panic. The game flashes commands at you faster than you can complete them and, for a moment, you break out in panic yourself before the game continues. You share the exact same emotion with Lucas, for a moment, where you both realise that there’s nothing you can do. Brilliant, even if the mechanic is crude.

Fahrenheit uses the same system in conversations too, where you have only a few seconds to choose a dialog option. Fail to make a choice quick enough and you’ll automatically ask the question which gives only the minimum amount of info, encouraging you to quickly make judgements that yield the most result and keeping you engaged. Alternately, you can sit back and watch the conversation play itself out like a cutscene.

Games I Own: Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy
You killed him - the question is why?

As I said, Fahrenheit isn’t perfect, mainly because the tone of the story suddenly changes from the realist to the mystical in the latter stages and because some elements of the game sit together rather poorly (such as collecting hidden tokens in an otherwise believable world), but it’s an important game. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s bordering on being criminally overlooked and I find it astonishing that, for all the rejuvenation the genre has gotten recently and the constant PR-speak that has developers claiming to “move the adventure game forwards, out of the ‘90s”, the one game which has really done that is mostly forgotten.

And, for those of you who were disappointed in my selection of Games to Watch in 2010, I’ll explain here that that’s why I’m so excited about Heavy Rain – because Quantic Dream’s next adventure game looks set to take the unfortunately staid adventure game genre even further. As someone who (like most of us, I suspect) finds that he still loves the genre but unfortunately lacks the patience and time to really enjoy adventure games, I can’t wait to see if they pull it off.

13 Comments

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MacWalka 13th January 2010, 12:54 Quote
I got this game when it was first released and thought it was brilliant up to a point. Like you I thought the start of the story was great and the different interactions throughout were impressive. But again, towards the end I started to dislike it when it went all mystical and just seemed rushed.

I thought if they had carried on the way the game started, it would have been a classic in my eyes.
Er-El 13th January 2010, 13:00 Quote
Played through this game in a couple sittings; thought it was awesome. Loved the climactic ending.
licenced 13th January 2010, 13:07 Quote
I played the demo when it was first released and always meant to go back to it at some point so when it came up for a couple of quid in the Steam sale over Christmas I got it.

Enjoying it so far, although not very far into it.

I just failed the first button-press sequence though - when the cop knocks on the door. It flashes up so quickly it seemed impossible, especially as it was the first one encountered so I wasn't really sure what to do. Are they all going to be like that?
azrael- 13th January 2010, 13:35 Quote
Also got it on STEAM when I failed to get the regular version around here. Haven't really gotten around to playing it yet, but it certainly does seem promising.

Quick question: since it was labelled Indigo Prophecy is it the watered-down US version of the game?
Aracos 13th January 2010, 14:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
Also got it on STEAM when I failed to get the regular version around here. Haven't really gotten around to playing it yet, but it certainly does seem promising.

Quick question: since it was labelled Indigo Prophecy is it the watered-down US version of the game?

Yes unfortunately, and apparently the US Mode change in the .ini file doesn't work on the steam game.
CardJoe 13th January 2010, 14:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by licenced
I played the demo when it was first released and always meant to go back to it at some point so when it came up for a couple of quid in the Steam sale over Christmas I got it.

Enjoying it so far, although not very far into it.

I just failed the first button-press sequence though - when the cop knocks on the door. It flashes up so quickly it seemed impossible, especially as it was the first one encountered so I wasn't really sure what to do. Are they all going to be like that?

They get longer, and worse. The tutorial helps introduce them though and you can set the difficulty for them quite low, so in the end they aren't all that bad.
CardJoe 13th January 2010, 14:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
Yes unfortunately, and apparently the US Mode change in the .ini file doesn't work on the steam game.

All you miss is one of the two sex scenes though and, tbh, it isn't much of a loss. It's awkward and quite...horrible.
Xir 13th January 2010, 15:58 Quote
Havent got round to it but my wife enjoyed it (beeing a big adventure fan)
Dreaming 13th January 2010, 17:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
Yes unfortunately, and apparently the US Mode change in the .ini file doesn't work on the steam game.

All you miss is one of the two sex scenes though and, tbh, it isn't much of a loss. It's awkward and quite...horrible.

oh god yea, I was playing this in the lounge with my mum in the kitchen (open plan) :'(
Ficky Pucker 13th January 2010, 19:20 Quote
i liked that game a lot, too bad heavy rain won't come to us PC gamers :(
Tesla effect 13th January 2010, 19:45 Quote
Well worth playing the but QTE does grind especially the rooftop scene which I found was trying to be too Matrix like. I agree with MacWalka the script really petered out towards the end. Trying to not to spoil but I believe the initial mystical or occult mystery theme was ruined by a more contemporary sci-fi finale.
azrael- 14th January 2010, 06:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
Yes unfortunately, and apparently the US Mode change in the .ini file doesn't work on the steam game.
Thanks for the info. Shame, though...
chocolateraisins 17th January 2010, 22:52 Quote
anyone else still poop themselves in the bit where you ahve to avoid the rapists and such in pitch black?

That bit made me afraid of the dark for a very long time..
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