Reviewed: October 25, 2005
Released: September 20, 2005
It's January, 2009 during a massive snow storm in The Big Apple (NYC). A murder has just taken place in a diner bathroom, and itís within these first few minutes that you set yourself up for the entire experience that is Indigo Prophecy.
You start off as the killer (Lucas Kane) in the bathroom just after you have plunged the knife into a stranger severing all three arteries to his heart. It is here that you are faced with the first of many decisions to make. The bathroom is filled with evidence and it is up to you to decide how to deal with the situation. Your choices are a combination of getting rid of the murder weapon (putting it in the trash can), hiding the body (in one of the stalls), and washing your hands, or taking the easy way out by sprinting out the back door.
Itís cool because everything you do in this game affects the outcome. Sometimes the outcome is big, sometimes the outcome is small, but itís what gives this game such a high replay value.
The few choices I listed were just what you could do to get out of the first situation, but I failed to list some of your options because the list goes on and on. Not only can you make a lot of big choices in the game, but you can interact with almost any object. For instance, you can dry your hands in the bathroom after washing them, talk to anyone in the game, use the restroom, sit down in any seat, talk on the phone, and the list goes on and on. Basically anything you can interact with in real life you can interact with in Indigo Prophecy.
You can even take control of different characters by switching off between chapters; however, you can only switch off between the two detectives who are investigating the murder case (Carla Valenti, Tyler Miles). They are partners and you will be playing from each of their perspectives as well. Often you will have to switch from Carla to Tyler and vice versa so each one gets an opportunity to question people and look for evidence.
After beating the game and playing the first 6 hours multiple times, I now have a pretty good understanding about the positives and negatives that Indigo Prophecy has to offer. If I were to have reviewed this game based solely on the first three hours of gameplay, then I would have scored it much higher than its current rating. Unfortunately, the more you play it, the more you realize just how many problems plague the game. The graphics are lackluster and the camera and movement controls are frustrating.
Some of the gameplay is very similar to that found in Segaís little known title Shenmue for the Dreamcast and eventually the Xbox. For the strong majority unfamiliar with the game, Iíll explain the mechanics in greater detail. The game is essentially a movie that requires you to make critical decisions that will change the gameís outcome. Movies, of course, have fast action scenes and so does Indigo Prophecy.
The developers wanted to include the player in the experience so there are relatively difficult action sequences that require you to be quick with the analog sticks. What I mean is that during an action sequence, two colored rings appear in the middle of the screen, corresponding to the directions of the left and right analog sticks. When you see this on the screen, push the left, right, up, or down on the corresponding analog stick when the colors appear. It may sound difficult to understand, but itís pretty intuitive once you get used to it, but it will require a lot of practice for some.
Performing the correct actions in order can be tricky because the colors appear and disappear so quickly. Fortunately, there is some room for error. One other control function that physically gets you involved is pushing R1 and L1 buttons over and over. You must do it as fast as you can for what seems like an eternity during some of the action scenes and while working out in the gym.
One positive thing Indigo Prophecy has going for it is the presentation. Playing the game really gives you the sense that you are watching a movie unfold due to the very unique and stylized camera angles. The story and voice acting are the strongest things going for this game because of how much it lacks in all the other departments. If you love RPGís because of their story lines, then this game is for you.
The second positive thing to note is that the way you input commands is unique and will require some practice. Practice makes perfect and this is not a game where you simply press buttons and easily beat it. To input commands such as talking to someone or interacting with anything from furniture to random objects you must perform the right analog stick function show on the screen. For example, to sit down, I may have to press down on the analog stick.
Saving in Indigo couldnít be easier because itís automatic. Sometimes thatís a bad thing in games that donít save at the right moments, but thatís not the case here. Saving occurs before all the big moments so you can restart from the point exactly where you would want. Youíll have to watch for the saving icon in the top right corner of the screen so you know when itís ok to quit.
A negative thing that comes to mind are the graphics in Indigo Prophecy. You would think that a PS2 could pump out better graphics than this, especially for the cutscenes. Unfortunately the developer didnít do a very good job and it ends up looking like a PS2/Nintendo 64 game, 3D and all, but very hazy. The good news is that the character animation is dead on and the facial animations (rendered in real-time) are pretty amazing for a PS2 game. I wish I could keep saying positive things, but I noticed frame rate problems throughout the game. The good news is that it never directly affected the gameplay. I did notice one major glitch. My character actually went through the counter in the diner, then popped out.
The presentation is wonderful, but the camera angles associated with that can be a major annoyance. Letís say you are walking by a building when all of a sudden the camera angle moves to another position and now you are moving in the opposite direction from which you came. And, since you are now moving in the opposite direction, the camera switches back and once again youíve done a 180. This happens far too often and is especially annoying when you are in a stressful situation and you have a time limit.
Voice acting is an extremely important part to any adventure game, but it plays a critical roll in bringing Indigo Prophecy to life. Every character in the game seems to talk and the amount of dialogue here is tremendous. Every character speaks all of their lines and no text is involved. This is ďAAAĒ voice acting and is one of the strongest points Indigo Prophect has to offer. The strong voice acting complements the great story and cinematic presentation that gives this game a movie-like feel.
The orchestrated music is also top notch, done by Angelo Badalamenti (also known as Andy Badala), who composed scores for such films as Dark Water and Cabin Fever. He has composed scores for more than 70 movies/TV shows in his life time and his experience can be heard throughout the game. There are also several quality tracks from Theory of a Deadman that highlight the overall presentation.
Indigo is a single player adventure that took me 17 hours to beat, but it took my friend 22 hours. This is mainly because he had a difficult time mastering the sometimes very difficult analog controls which require cardinal directions on an analog input.
Thereís no multiplayer here, but the single player mode has more to offer than a one way ticket. In fact, there are multiple endings to see and thereís always a good reason to go back and answer important questions differently to see the reactions youíd get.
There are also some interesting bonuses to find throughout the game, which can be unlocked using collected bonus points. One of these is a look behind the scenes at how they motion captured every character in the game, and also the usual artwork, movies and music tracks.
This is truly a game that invokes a lot of emotional response and one thatís sure to please all adventure/movie fans alike. It is Indigo Prophecyís great story and amazing presentation that overshadows the hazy graphics and flaky controls. If you want to experience one of the most original, cinematic games this year, then donít miss Indigo Prophecy.