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Disappointment: Indigo Prophecy

Before they made the fantastic "Heavy Rain," David Cage and Quantic Dream made "Indigo Prophecy," also known as "Fahrenheit" in Europe."Indigo Prophecy" is disappointing because it seemed so promising from the outset. In fact, Game Informer ranked “Indigo Prophecy’s” 10th on a list of the top video game openings. About halfway through, the game begins to stumble. It’s a gradual fall, but the game’s awful writing steadily gains momentum up until the final act: when it tumbles into a rotten, gooey pile of unbelievably convoluted filth.

Players are treated to an intriguing introduction. After an interesting speech, cinematic camera shots through a wintry New York City and a great score by Angel Badalamenti, the view shifts to a dingy restroom in a small diner. An average-looking man is washing up at the sink. Soon enough, there are flashes of a knife inter cut with the bathroom scene. Something is definitely out of place. There is a man in one of the stalls: Lucas Kane, the man who was just speaking. His eyes roll up into his head as he stands and brandishes the knife. He lumbers, zombie-like, toward the man at the sinks. As he does so, the camera shows glimpses of a hooded figure moving the same way through a field of lit candles. Finally, the unthinkable act occurs, and Lucas stabs the man once. The man falls to the ground, moving to escape. Lucas hovers over him, raises the knife high into the air and brings it down one final time.

Almost immediately, Lucas comes to. He jerks away from the corpse on the ground. He looks at his arms, which have strange symbols carved into them, and stares at the dead man in disbelief. A crow perched in an open window laughs before flying away. The camera shows a police officer taking his break in the diner. Lucas says to himself, “Quick, I’ve got to get out of here...”

Begin playing “Indigo Prophecy.”

With little in the way of hints or tips, the game throws players into the thick of it immediately. Just as Lucas was shocked to see the act he committed, taking over and playing as him is just as disorienting. Who is Lucas Kane? Why did he stab a man he probably didn’t know? How long will it be before that police officer has to empty his bladder? Those questions will have to wait. There’s a murder scene to clean up.

That’s right, the first things “Indigo Prophecy” tasks the player with are dragging a body into a bathroom stall, mopping up blood from the floor and disposing of a murder weapon—or not. The beauty of “Indigo Prophecy” is in the choice. When the game was released in 2005, it presented players with a multitude of choices and unique outcomes based on what players did (or did not) do. Cage referred to it as an “interactive movie,” and he wasn’t far off. With fully voiced dialog, interesting set pieces and multiple characters to play as, things looked pretty good for “Indigo Propehcy.”

Two things hold “Indigo Prophecy” back from greatness. The first problem is the use of quick-time event (QTE) action scenes. These scenes become more frequent, more complicated and longer as the game progresses. Players are forced to input a series of analog stick movements that are sometimes vaguely related to the action on screen and completely arbitrary at other times. If memory serves, Lucas has a life bar. Failing a series of gestures will reduce the bar. If it depletes completely, then it’s back to the beginning of the sequence.

Look familiar? If there’s one way to remove players from a storyline, it’s to have them repeat a section. Even Simon Says champions will need to repeat a few sequences.

Still, the QTEs could be overlooked if the narrative didn’t spiral into strange territory. “Indigo Prophecy” turns into a bizarre action movie filled with made-up, Mayan mumbo jumbo and warring clans and the coming of the apocalypse. Lucas turns into some kind of all-powerful, Neo-like character. The suspenseful, intimate writing gives way to more bad QTEs so Lucas can fight weird phantom creatures. By the end, it’s all so laughable that none of the three endings really matters.

People are complaining these days about the end of “Mass Effect 3.” Regardless your opinion, at least it’s a fun ride filled with great game play. “Indigo Prophecy” has merely tolerable game play. The story started off carrying the game, but dropped it before long.

Truly disappointing.
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About dredgmanone of us since 1:01 PM on 03.23.2008