Game Review: "Indigo Prophecy" for the Playstation 2, PC and XBox

1/01/2010 Posted by Admin

Game Review

Indigo Prophecy

By our guest blogger, David Voyles

This week, I decided to do something different and go back to review an older title in lieu of Steam’s online sale for the holidays. While browsing the catalog, I ran across "Indigo Prophecy" ("Fahrenheit" in other markets), which I had always wanted to try, but at a $3.50 price tag, I couldn’t say no. Despite the fact that this is a title from 2005--and that it originally appeared on the Playstation 2 and Xbox as well as the PC--it holds up surprisingly well.

In fact, in some areas, it has yet to be surpassed.

The story revolves around man who gruesomely murders a civilian and carves symbols into his arms in a diner bathroom on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Having no control over himself while committing this crime, the man believes he either is going insane, or there are other forces at work here.

You play as three different characters, and in some scenarios you can switch between the two detectives on the fly as they assist and work off one another. This is a unique feature seldom seen in other titles--the only other of which I can recall is "Resident Evil Zero" on the Gamecube. What makes this so interesting is that not only do you play the role of the murderer, but also that of the detectives.  It gives you a unique perspective on the story.

"Indigo Prophecy" also offers an enthralling cinematic experience that only has been matched thus far by "Uncharted 2." At times, the camera is in a fixed position behind the protagonist, but at other times, a right mouse click will change the perspective to offer a more cinematic like experience. Often, the game provides a creepy viewpoint, such as facing up from the ground, or using sharp angles to increase the anxiety in an already engrossing experience. Furthermore, as the story progresses, players often will experience the screen being cut into two or even three parts in order to witness different events occurring simultaneously.  In these instances, they must act quickly on one of the screens before a character on one of the other screens reaches a certain point.

To add to the excitement, when players are presented with a choice such as a dialogue choice or an action, they must act quickly before a timer runs out in order to select their decision. In the PC version, this is done by clicking on the mouse, followed by moving it in a predetermined direction. This can be frustrating, however, as your movements need to be exact--otherwise, they will not register correctly and your character will not complete whichever action you chose. Not all of the player’s questions can be answered in each conversation as times runs out, so choose carefully. Additionally, players are never sitting idle, even during drawn-out conversations or long stretches of monologue. At times like those, QTE’s (Quick Time Events), such as those made popular by titles such as "Shenmu" on the Dreamcast, appear onscreen and players must match keystrokes accordingly. While it does keep the player involved, it also distracts him or her from the conversation and the events at hand.

The graphics of "Indigo Prophecy" are great for 2005, and they hold up well enough today to not distract player from the believability of the game. One shortcoming is the inability to play the game in a widescreen format. Considering most computer displays (or even televisions, for that matter) are widescreen, much of the screen’s real estate is not utilized.

Despite the aging graphics, the storytelling in "Indigo Prophecy" is unmatched. For the first time in a game, I really felt as though my decisions would have sever repercussions. I’ll be sure to have as second play through to find out for sure whether my decisions changed the outcome. That said, there were some points where I'm sure my choices resulted in different actions and outcomes than other players. The camera angles, splitting screen and soundtrack also lend a helpful hand in engulfing players. Throughout the entire experience, I felt as though I was playing an interactive movie more than a video game. That can be a godsend for some, and a turnoff for others.

Where "Indigo Prophecy" does fail is in its ending. Before it hits, the story runs along well with great pacing and believable scenarios, but the ending comes in a fell swoop--and it's extremely clich├ęd. It felt as though the developer ran out of production time towards the end and needed to quickly rush out a finished product. It’s a shame that such a well-written and involving story ends the way it does here. Nonetheless, the game itself remains a noteworthy experience.

So, who should play "Indigo Prophecy"? For starters, those who are looking for a seamless story where it is difficult to discern between a film and video game. If you enjoyed "Shenmu," then you will feel right at home with this title--although it is more gritty and wraps the player into the atmosphere better than Shenmu did. If you’ve been looking for a novel experience to take a break from these Hollywood blockbuster titles released in the last few months, than "Indigo Prophecy" is a great title to hold you over.

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  1. Leshy said...

    I agree with you on a lot of counts there. I played the game in 2007 on the PC and then bought it for PS2. Great game and one I will keep in my collection.
    The same company (and creator David Cage) is working on Heavy Rain for the PS3. It looks to be amazing and the detail in the graphics is highly anticipated.

    In terms of Indigo Prophecy, I had similar complaints. The timed events made it so you missed the action/story on screen. It's great for people watching, but for the player, you just end up pressing buttons not seeing whats going on. I would sometimes not press any buttons, just so i could see whats happening on screen.

    The only other problem I had was with switching characters. I loved the idea, and it was well implemented in terms of gameplay, but for the story not so well. An example is in the first ten minutes of the game you need to hide a weapon as one character. Then you switch to the FBI agent, and you're supposed to then look for the weapon. Kinda easy when you just hid it yourself and takes all the guesswork out of it. I found that quite disheartening.