There’s no other game quite like Indigo Prophecy. No matter how many times I play it, I manage to do something different than I have previously. Sure many games these days are starting to the same, but when I first laid my hands on the game, I could instantly see how this game would make such a heavy impact on me as a gamer.
You play Lucas Kang, a regular old Joe with a steady job just living his life. One day on his way home from work he stops in a diner to grab a bite to eat. Next thing he knows, he’s on top of a man in the bathroom stabbing him in the chest. Pretty sweet, huh? Kang seemingly had no control over what he was doing, as if he were possessed, and he’s bent on finding out what had caused him to do this.
When I said you play as Lucas Kang, I probably spoke too soon. You play multiple characters throughout the game. As I said, Kang commits murder, so obviously the police are going to be involved. Which brings up the next two characters you control, the two detectives investigating the murder, Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles. This provides a very unique style of player choice, do you try and help Kang do the best he can to try and find the reason this is happening to him, or do you do all you can for Valenti and Miles in order to catch Lucas Kang?
Throughout this whole turmoil, Lucas Kang has also been experiencing an unparallel amount of strength and agility, as well as having recurring visions. Some visions may be showing the future a few minutes ahead of time, or even let him hear what people are thinking.
There’s one event in the game in particular in which Miles and Valenti are very close to catching Kane. Unsure of his identity, Valenti (or Miles, depending on who you send) is questioning Kang on the possible whereabouts of the murderer. Kane is able to hear Valenti’s thoughts, so the player is allowed to adjust Kane’s answers to Valenti’s questions according to Valenti’s prior knowledge.
In the same scene, Kane realizes Valenti is on the way to question him, so it’s up to you, do you leave out evidence so she can see it which can help her connect Kane to the murder? Or do you stash as much evidence you can in order to avoid going to prison and further your search into what is happening to you?
The story is really deep. The first half of the game is quite different than the end of the game. It dives into Mayan legends and leads Kane to find out that he is part of a Mayan sacrifice which is trying to link our world to the “other” world. Ultimately, if Kane doesn’t step in, the world as he knows it will be consumed by an unforeseen power.
The gameplay is one of the main things that makes this game stand out from others. It relies heavily on the control sticks as your primary source of reacting to the world and its own little take on quick-time events. Instead of punching different buttons that would appear on screen, you would have sort of a “Simon Says” layout on the screen corresponding to up, down, left, and right on the corresponding control sticks. It really made you feel that what was going on screen was directly because of what you were doing. For example, if you shoved both control sticks to the right, Kane would jump accordingly. Sure the events were scripted, but it felt damn good.
Another aspect of its gameplay was that you would use the right stick to choose a dialog choice. Mass Effect adapted this into its own dialogue gameplay but tweaked it just a bit. Similar to ME, Indigo Prophecy would have a one word topic choice that your character would develop into a full question, comment, or answer. Apart from dialogue choices, you would react to the world around you in a similar fashion. If you wanted to drink a cup of coffee, odds are you would push the control stick up and then slide it to the left. Or if you wanted to look under a table, you would press down to look under it. While it sounds complicated, the game executes these different aspects quite seamlessly.
The game also integrates a “feeling” meter. The peak is at “Neutral”, while the bottom of the spectrum is “Wrecked,” which could lead your character your playing as to kill themselves or go insane which forces you to continue at your last checkpoint. Almost everything you do has an effect on the meter. Drinking a cup of coffee could be +5, while finding evidence at a crime scene could be +10. Or, finding some devastating news could be -20. It’s really hard to keep each character happy, so this aspect is a chore in its own right. And not in a bad way.
The story and the gameplay work together so well that everyone must play this game at least once. It really stood out to me when it came out in 2005 even through all the other games I was playing at the time. I’m currently going through my fourth playthrough of the game and still loving every minute of it. All we can hope for is that Heavy Rain which comes from the same developer, Quantic Dream, is making progress and we’ll be able to see it in 2009.
Games like this are what keeps me coming back to video games. The original stories which really involve the player in such a way that's unparallel to movies or television. Hell, instead of saying "New Game" on the main menu, it says "New Movie." This goes to show that Quantic Dream knows what a gamer desires. They know what we want to feel when were playing a game. And Indigo Prophecy accomplishes that with complete perfection.