There are a tone of games that I am going to dearly miss from my PS2 days. Little gems of gaming history that hopefully won’t vanish, because I’ll keep my PS2 in good order and can cart them out when I feel for them again.
One such game is this one, Indigo Prophecy as it was called in America. Fahrenheit as it was known anywhere else. Both give hint spoilers at the truth of the game, one that was originally thought up as an episodic content game. It plays like one, but I found it special for a number of reasons.
But what’s the game about? Essentially, you play three people (in nice little episodic chunks of action) in NYC during an especially cold winter. As the game opens, you find yourself under the control of something that forces you to kill a man in a diner bathroom. Curious rituals are hinted at. You come to, realizing you have just done something horrible. And your close to being discovered.
Covering your tracks rather badly, you make good your escape.
Cut to two police, investigating said crime. These are the other two characters that you control throughout the game, which puts you in a very curious and entertaining position. You are both the hunter and hunted. And yes, you find yourself chuckling as you investigate your own crappy mistakes to cover your crime in the bathroom.
This game had a lot of atmosphere, and pluck. It was scored by Angelo Badalamenti of Twin Peaks fame. It did 24 style splitscreens which got it a lot of flack, but did a beautiful job of creating tension (you saw the cop who was going to discover your crime as you hastily tried to cover it up on the other side of the screen). It’s tutorial on how to use it’s rather unorthodox control methods were introduced by the ‘director’ giving the whole game a movie like feel.
Importantly, despite the fact the plot really showed its strain towards the end (probably not helped by the fact it was envisioned as an episodic game), it had plot. In great buckets too. You cared for all three of the characters, and there is a horrible part near the end where you are forced to choose between those characters. There was emotional depth.
Also, the plot was rather mature, which I appreciate in a video game. The US release had the possible (but not compulsory) sex scene cut out. One of the best scenes of the game was a shower scene (tastefully done, and creating an incredible sense of dread), scored perfectly by one of the games many vocal tracks. The phone rings. You spend the whole scene waiting for the obvious to happen.
Incidentally, and rather amusing, you can turn off your stereo, cutting the track that served as the soundtrack to the shower.
Conversations were done Mass Effect style, many years before Mass Effect came out (although that style is nothing overly new). You felt very much like you were sitting in on an interactive movie. And unfortunately, that is partly where the game lost out. Although it was a mix of classic style adventure game, mixed with movie, mixed with button mashing action sequences, it got itself lost in a muddled middle ground of mediocrity.
Although it certainly will never make history, it is one of those games that I will look back on for doing a certain number of things very well. The plot ends up somewhere where you would never imagine it would. The characters and writing (forgiving its episodic troubles) was strong enough that you cared beyond the end.
And in the end, that’s what I like in a game. Beautifully cinematic and mature, back when games weren’t.
There is a few decent remnants left on the net of this game, but nothing comes close to playing it yourself. Maybe one day we will be able to like we can do with c64 emulators and the like these days. A salute to you though, Indigo Prophecy, the little game that couldn’t.