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Indigo Prophecy (PlayStation 2) artwork

Indigo Prophecy (PlayStation 2) review

"Playing Fahrenheit is like watching a car crash in slow motion. At first you just see a car moving, maybe it's even a pretty car, but suddenly it hits a lamp-post, curls around itself in a horrible metallic mess and bits of test mannequins fly all over the place. "

Playing Fahrenheit is like watching a car crash in slow motion. At first you just see a car moving, maybe it's even a pretty car, but suddenly it hits a lamp-post, curls around itself in a horrible metallic mess and bits of test mannequins fly all over the place.

At first, Fahrenheit introduces itself into your game collection like a breath of fresh air precisely because of its classic setting: that of a supernatural thriller, a genre we are familiar with in movies. Lucas Kane, when you take control of him, just murdered a complete stranger. This is not a whodunit or a murder mystery, since he really did kill that man; the point is that he doesn't know how or why he did it, or the nature of the terrible visions he had during the whole ordeal. Interestingly enough, while you help Lucas run away from the police and find out what's going on, you also control Carla and Tyler, the two detectives trying to track him down. It seems to be a fantastic concept: whether you root for one side or the other, the antagonist or “the bad guy” is always also going to be you.

Unfortunately, that's not the case. All the time, at least: after a very promising and enjoyable start where you frantically hide evidence of your crime as Lucas and discover it as Carla, it won't take you long to realise that you're not really playing against yourself. Even though some scenes can be completed in more than one way, the plot remains linear and unchanged (bear in mind that PS2 launch title Shadow of Memories, for example, proved that you can have a fascinating story as well as the ability to change it in many ways). If the developers had sacrificed the multiple storylines they undeservingly advertise in order to build a single but strong and interesting one, the game would have worked all the same. But they didn't. At some point the writer is replaced by a squirrel on amphetamines and the story, quite simply, ceases to make sense altogether. Making no sense at all, turning a good individual story into a ridiculous world-saving epopoeia and drowning in its own narrative are all admittedly pretty common features of the development of supernatural movies too, but that doesn't make the game version any more bearable.

The above was a description of the short rise and thundering fall of the plot, but the same could be said about the gameplay. Using only the analogue sticks, Fahrenheit plays like an adventure: exploring sceneries and interacting with objects in several, pretty original ways. Apart from that, cutscenes are interactive in the sense that you need to complete short DDR-style minigames or mash buttons quickly in order to keep watching them. During the first third of the game or so, you undergo a series of thrilling sequences in which you need to hide evidence or generally just look inconspicuous within a time limit. Sadly, this aspect of the gameplay (you might call it the actual gameplay, and I wouldn't correct you) quickly leaves room to the button-mashing cutscenes to a point where all actual interactivity revolves around moving your character two steps forward to trigger the next video.

It's a shame that both the graphics and the audio keep an excellent level throughout the entire game, in the sense that it's sad to see such a good material be betrayed as everything else collapses into a bubbling heap of disappointment. The voice acting is likeable and professional whereas the score, with an interesting string instrument-based main theme, can also compete with that of a movie. The characters and sceneries don't display a particularly impressive graphic prowess; their success relies in how well they manage to reproduce everyday urban locations, something that very few games ever attempt at all. Maybe this game should have had awful graphics –they could be like the bright colours of those little frogs that warn various critters about their poison.

So, let it be said that Fahrenheit has an indisputably good and interesting beginning, but arguably that only makes the fall harder. It's like a cruel dentist: you can choose to believe the people who warn you it's going to hurt or dismiss their complaints and actively try to make the most of it, but you will end up screaming all the same. I'm sorry to say that evil digital cockroaches and hobo squadrons have anything to do with this promising story at all, but it's even worse when I remember that those are not at all the weirdest or most nonsensical things in the game. Quite a feat, actually, bearing in mind how short the game really is. I honestly don't know whether that's a bad thing, because of how quickly and clumsily the story is "executed" (yes, I'm using all the meanings of the term), or a good thing, because of how tedious it is to aimlessly trudge through the surrealistic drivel formerly known as “cutscenes”. The final impression is not that this game was finished in a hurry, but that deadline struck precisely in the middle of the development process. As it stands, Fahrenheit is one third proper game, one third boring cutscenes and one third psychotropic balderdash.


MartinG's avatar
Community review by MartinG (August 26, 2007)

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