Developers: Quantic Dream (Original), Aspyr Media (Remaster)
Publishers: Atari (Original), Aspyr Media (Remaster)
Platforms: PC, iOS, Android, Linux, PS2, Xbox, Mac
Release Dates: September 26, 2005 (Original), January 29th, 2015 (Remaster)
Having never played the original version released back in 2005, I went into Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy (dubbed Fahrenheit in North America upon its original release) with no prior knowledge or expectations—and for the first few hours of the game, I was curious. It’s what kept me going until the game hit the midway point.
Developed by Quantic Dream and published by Atari back in 2005, Aspyr Media has re-released its remastered, uncensored version for PC, iOS, OS X, and Linux. When it was first released, Quantic Dream dubbed the game as an “interactive film” title. Rightfully so, as its presentation is unique. The game makes frequent use of split screens, separate character storylines, and an interface I hadn’t seen before in a game.
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered has all the pieces placed for a perfect introduction. Within the first few minutes of the game, the player is introduced to the conflict that drives Fahrenheit: Lucas, the protagonist, seemingly possessed, stabs a man to death in a diner bathroom. The scene is gory and intensified by the well-timed, heavy soundtrack of minor chords. The tone is set almost immediately.
After the initial introduction where the protagonist safely escapes the scene, the player is then introduced to the detectives called to investigate the crime: Lietenant Carla and Sergeant Tyler, both of whom the player has the option to switch between while interacting with objects and clues in the diner. Both characters yield different results, and this also brings the player to what makes Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy interesting: its interactive narrative. The dialogue is based on real time, so the response choices are forced to be made quickly.
All this within the first hour of Fahrenheit drew me in. Essentially playing chase from both sides, the murderer and the detectives trying to catch him, put me at a dilemma: do I get to choose from the get-go whom I would make my actions more favourable towards?
Unfortunately, this is where the Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered’s excitement begins to wane. After around 3 hours, I felt the game was already past its peak. The game’s weakness is that the controls do not exactly reflect the mechanics of the storyline. They are clumsy and awkward; I played the game on a PC, so as far as game mechanics go, it’s pretty simple: the W keys to choose a direction, the ASD keys move you in that direction.
I felt the last half of the game betrayed the tone of the first half…
What felt most uncomfortable and clunky were the par controls. Certain scenes required the left par keys (WASD) and right par keys (keyboard arrows), evidently an update from the gamepad when the game was first released. This update caused a lot of confusing moments of what exactly I had to do. For instance, there’s a scene when Lucas is hallucinating and imagining giant bugs are attacking him in his office. To escape a bug that has Lucas in his grip, the player must fill up an arrow on the screen by quickly hitting the par keys—I was thoroughly confused (which side? both sides? slowly? simultaneously?) and frustrated.
Another frustrating element of the game is when it hits the 3-hour mark when I started to feel I had already experienced the most enthralling elements of the game, all set in the beginning to convince the player to continue. It doesn’t quite carry on that sense of purpose consistently. The game moves past its action-packed introduction and into the slow-moving “puzzle” parts, like playing as Tyler and going back and forth in a library to find the right book or playing as Lucas and having to mundanely place three candles on their candlesticks, light them, turn off the lights, close the curtains . . . You get the idea.
Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by other games and maybe I did have high expectations going into this one. I didn’t know what quite was ahead of me before playing, but I will say that halfway through the game I dreaded having to finish it. The game takes a peculiar turn. Sure, the player should expect that the game will feature supernatural elements heavily, as the introduction clearly shows the protagonist driven to murder by possession.
The way the narrative was framed throughout the rising action did not prepare me for the overly fantastical elements that took over the last half of the game. I felt the last half of the game betrayed the tone of the first half, in which the player is forced to play out the tedious tasks of everyday life: walk here, pick up this object, do this, walk out, etc. Suddenly, the last half of the game is all about oracles and legends, moving into a spiritual side that was lacking in the first half.
But if this were the only flaw in the narrative, it wouldn’t be such a nagging problem. At some point in Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered, the player has the chance to explore Lucas’ past. It weaves in playing the flashback with the present well, so that it doesn’t feel too clunky and out-of-place when you are playing as child Lucas—but this mechanic is not used as much as it should be to help the story. Instead, the story later relies on awkward twists. There is a romance that blooms later in the game without motivation or development. What started out as such a promising, dynamic drama unraveled itself into the realm of badly written fanfiction.
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Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered begins with a suspenseful story and it knows how to build up the momentum in the soundtrack and the characters as the story moves forward. The characters seemingly start off versatile with well-rounded personalities, given fears of their own that affect the gameplay. The emotion bar, while meant to keep the player from rummaging through every interaction carelessly, also unwittingly plants a sense of empathy for the characters.
It is unfortunate that Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered cannot uphold what it seemed to get right in the beginning. Unable to mix fantasy and crime meaningfully, along with a few twists as the game progresses that ruins the narrative build-up it had in the first half, playing Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered is like watching a promising politician fall from grace after a few errors they inevitably can’t recover from.
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered is available on Steam for $9.99 USD.
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.