The Indigo Prophecy is psychological thriller that puts players in the precarious role of Lucas Kane, a man who has just brutally murdered a complete stranger in a dingy, public washroom. As the game begins, Kane comes out of a trance with no recognition of the mangled, bloody corpse before him, nor any recollection of committing the gruesome act with his own hands.
Now a wanted man, he must avoid the police long enough to figure out what has happened to him, before he is captured and incarcerated for the vicious act. As stories of similar unprovoked killings begin to surface, however, and Kane realizes that he may not be alone in this terrible curse, it becomes clear that he may need the help of the very authorities who are hunting him down, if he ever hopes to discover the truth behind his terrible crime.
Originally titled "Fahrenheit," Indigo Prophecy was developed by Quantic Dream, known previously for its paranormal PC and Dreamcast adventure, Omikron: The Nomad Soul.
Indigo Prophecy tells the story of Lucas Kane, an average Joe that's shoved into a dark and arcane situation when he finds himself stabbing a man in a restroom at a diner. Kane isn't able to control his actions and has no idea what drove him to such a grizzly crime. What he does know is that he has carved two snake-like symbols on his forearms and that he has to cover up his tracks and flee the diner. On his trail are two New York City police detectives, Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles. You experience the story from the perspective of all three characters, switching through various points in the game. The narrative blends suspense, occult, mystery, and more. It's a well-written story that's a cut above most videogame tales.
Adding a unique element to the story are the numerous decisions you have to make in the game. The main plot points don't really change, but smaller details change depending on the choices you make. For instance, there are a number of things Lucas can do to cover up his trail in the diner. If he happens to let one slip, the cops can use it to track him down easier. Many of the decisions change the characters' moods, which must be managed throughout the game. If you let one of the characters get too depressed it can end the game. There are also a couple of different endings that are triggered by a rather unobvious choice in the game. (Several journalists have equated the dynamic story to a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but I wouldn't go quite that far.)
Part of what makes the story come alive are the excellent characters. All three main characters are written well and supported by great voice acting. There are some clichés here and there, but for the most part they seem like real people caught up in a rather crazy adventure. Most of the relationships and interactions make sense (save for one really forced romance), and it's definitely one of the best voice acting casts of the year.
Indigo Prophecy features a unique control scheme that's accessible to gamers of all skill levels -- assuming you have a dual-analog gamepad. You almost never have to use your controller's buttons; instead, the majority of the commands are issued through the analog sticks. During conversations you have to point the analog stick towards the comment you want to make before the time runs out. When you can interact with an object you have to either push the analog stick in a direction or perform a quarter-circle command. In action sequences, the analog sticks become two Simon pads and you have to match the directional commands call for. It's a really unique system that's easy enough for your mom to handle.
Unfortunately, playing the game with the standard keyboard-and-mouse setup is not fun and can get awfully frustrating. Anyone thinking of playing Indigo Prophecy with a keyboard and mouse should do themselves a favor and drop the idea. It's not worth it. A gamepad with dual analog sticks is really the only way to go, and could arguably be called a minimum requirement.
Gamers looking for a challenge might be put off by the ease of Indigo Prophecy, but you really have to think of the gameplay as a means to experience the excellent story. In that sense, it totally succeeds. One flaw with that system, however, is that you're so fixated on the commands (especially during the action sequences), that you often miss out on the cool stuff happening on screen. In these cases, Indigo Prophecy is more fun to watch than to play.
One of the best aspects of this game is its score. It's a mix of wonderful original compositions and pop songs. The score is composed by Angelo Badalamenti, who has created scores for several David Lynch movies and series, including Mulholland Dr., Twin Peaks, and Wild at Heart. It's a moody and captivating soundtrack that further absorbs you into the game's world.
While there are a few minor issues with Indigo Prophecy that could be chalked up to a matter of taste, there is one undeniable flaw: the graphics. This is one ugly game. There's nothing impressive going on visually and most of the graphics look closer to 1995 than 2005. The character models are particularly bad, which is a bit unfortunate since this is such a character-driven game. Worse, the graphical deficiencies of Indigo Prophecy are most pronounced on the PC version -- it's easy to tell that this was developed for the lowest common denominator (PlayStation 2) and little, if any, effort was taken to take advantage of PC hardware. Ugly is ugly and no SLI setup or dual-core processor is going to make this troll of a game look good.
Still, once you get past its unsightly graphics and need for a gamepad, you'll find that Indigo Prophecy is one of the more refreshing and unique titles released in years. You get five to seven hours or engaging gameplay, a fantastic story, a brilliant score, wonderful acting, and a unique control scheme. These elements, combined with multiple endings and unlockable goodies, make it worth experiencing multiple times. It would be nice if it looked a little better, but it's nice to see Quantic Dream has developed something truly different and lots of fun. Who knows? Adventure games might become fashionable again.
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