Indigo Prophecy (Xbox) review
"Every year many games come out that are great, but donít really bring anything new to the table. They may do many things right, but theyíre missing something: innovation. With Indigo Prophecy, that is not the case. With highly original concepts that are executed very well, and a game that puts its story and characters above everything else, developer Quantic Dream has succeeded in making a game that sets itself apart from any other one out there. It may not be perfect, but itís something that sh..."
Every year many games come out that are great, but donít really bring anything new to the table. They may do many things right, but theyíre missing something: innovation. With Indigo Prophecy, that is not the case. With highly original concepts that are executed very well, and a game that puts its story and characters above everything else, developer Quantic Dream has succeeded in making a game that sets itself apart from any other one out there. It may not be perfect, but itís something that should be checked out by gamers if they want a truly immersive experience.
If there is such a thing as a cinematic game, this is it. Indigo Prophecy looks and feels like a movie, and it seems thatís what the developers were aiming for with all of the little touches incorporated into the game. When you first start out, youíll be given a tutorial by a man who is the ďdirectorĒ of Indigo Prophecy. Once you finish that and actually get into the game, thereís a wide shot of New York with the credits rolling, like something taken right out of a movie. Itís actually a very clever trick, and works perfectly with the game.
Itís a cold snowy night just like any other in New York. You enter the bathroom of a small diner. There you find a man, and youíre overwhelmed with bizarre visions of yourself in a black cloak surrounded by candles. Once in one of the stalls, you continue on to carve strange markings into your forearms with a knife. You proceed to approach the man, and begin stabbing him multiple times. Finally, you regain control of yourself and are shocked by what you see. This is Indigo Prophecy, the story of Lucas Kane.
Not only will you be playing the game through the eyes of Lucas Kane, but also Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles, the lead detectives in the murder case involving Lucas. The two are opposite in many ways, but have been partners for a while and are good friends. Carla is the type who is always concerned about work and always on top of her game when it comes to a new case. Tyler, on the other hand, is a laid back guy who doesnít obsess about work or worry much. This helps us get a sense of these two characters, how they work with each other, and how they approach this new case theyíve been presented over time. As you progress further through the game you will be introduced to a few minor characters, such as Markus, Lucasí brother. This all ties into a key factor about Indigo Prophecy that youíll notice. It is a game that develops its story and characters better than anything else, and this is a rarity in most games. Throughout the game youíll find many twists and turns, some a bit crazy, but they keep you wanting to know what happens next all the time.
When it comes to Indigo Prophecyís gameplay, the best way to describe it is that itís something new, but nothing thatís going to overwhelm you. The bulk of the gameplay is a rhythm based mini-game involving the face buttons, repeatedly tapping the shoulders buttons back and forth, and having the option of picking what youíre going to do or say. An example would be one moment when you find a kid drowning in an icy pond, and if you choose to save him, you must tap the shoulder buttons back and forth to pull him out of the water. For the rhythm based mini-game, at one point you have a hallucination of giant spiders attacking you, and you must time hitting the face buttons to dodge from them. Iím sure the first two things donít sound a whole lot exciting, and they arenít anything special even though they work very well, but having the freedom of picking what you do or say is what really makes the game shine, seeing as how it affects what happens in the story. An example of this would be right at the beginning of the game when Lucas has committed the murder. You can clean up the blood and wash up to eliminate some evidence, and then go out the back door so no one sees you. If you go out through the front door someone may get a good look at you, and then the police will be able to composite a sketch of you to help them in their investigation. Itís little things like this that make Indigo Prophecy so great, because you can control the outcome of just about any situation. Best of all is that some of the choices you must decide are timed, so it requires you to think fast as if you were in the same shoes as the person youíre playing, as well as building up the tension.
The game does have that classic searching for items and solving puzzles adventure game feel to it, especially when playing as Carla or Tyler. Youíll be taking on leads in the investigation, searching certain objects, figuring out little mini-puzzles, and even questioning people. At some points in the game itíll feel like any other day, just walking around the apartment, maybe grabbing a bit to eat, going to the bathroom, or some other things. This really helps you delve into the lives of each of these characters, seeing how they act and what they usually do.
What you do in the game has a direct effect on your characterís mental state, even certain things in the bathroom (you do the math). During the game, youíre going to need to keep your characterís mental state up. At the top of the meter that measures this, there is neutral, and at the bottom is wrecked. Once you reach the wrecked state, the game ends, and you start over where you last left off. Itís a nice addition to the game, but nothing that will keep you worried because it is pretty easy to keep your characterís mental state pretty high.
From a graphical standpoint, Indigo Prophecy is good at best. The big problem is that the visuals are inconsistent. The animations in the game are really good due to the life-like nature of them, which is a given since they were motion captured. Some of the character designs are also very good, such as Lucas and Markus, but others like Tyler and one of his co-workers/friends look like there wasnít a whole lot of effort put into them. Some of the details such as the clothes they wear and their hairdos are too basic, and on the technical side of things, they do look a little chunky compared to other characters. There isnít much of a frame-rate issue, but you can notice it from time to time. The one big positive about the graphics are the action sequences. Itís as if you were watching an animated action movie, and thatís about the best you can ask for, and rarely will you see the frame-rate problem show up at these times. The environments are fairly varied, but are a little bland. But on the plus side, they do go well with the setting and appearance of all of the characters. Although visuals arenít a huge part of Indigo Prophecy, they could have been better.
The sound department is certainly one of the bright spots of the game. All of the characters translate their personalities and characteristics best through the spot-on voice acting. You could swear that the voice work in the game could match a real person whoís exactly like the character theyíre portraying, itís that great. The mood of the game is set perfectly by the low-key music. Both licenced music and original scores are used in the game, which was a good move. The sound effects are excellent as well, really embodying the mood of the game, such as the sound of a crow in the background. No real big complaints can be made when it comes to the sound.
A game like Indigo Prophecy isnít going to have online play or multiplayer of any sort. So youíre probably asking yourself, whatís going to keep me coming back for more? Every time you play the game, youíre going to get a new experience, so why not play through it again? As you go through the game a second time, you could always approach each situation a different way, and youíre going to get a different result. While that is a good factor for replayability, thereís nothing else other than that.
If you want something new and different from all the other games out there, then Indigo Prophecy is the game for you. In a day and age when visuals are one of the main factors in marketing, some hidden gems get lost along the way. Many people have played and enjoyed Indigo Prophecy, but there are others out there who have passed it up just because of the type of game it is, with it playing out like a movie and the story and characters being the bigger picture of the game. If you are one of them you owe it to yourself to try the game, you may be surprised.
Community review by amlabella (July 13, 2006)
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