Indigo Prophecy
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2
Publisher
Atari
Developer
Quantic Dream
Genre
Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Excellent story and cinematic experience
• Choices made affect the way story plays out
• Awesome soundtrack
• Lots of unlockables

The Bad

• Some scenarios can be frustrating
• Some blurriness in details
• Camera/control can be a bit off at times

 
Grade
A-

Quantic Dream's Indigo Prophecy works hard at drawing the playing into an interactive cinematic experience shaped by their actions and choices. Unlike most cinematic, story-driven games, though, the player is given an world that not only offers a deep sense of realism, but actually uses the depth to draw you into really caring about how the story plays out. And, of course, determine how that ending comes about.

The story begins with Lucas Kane finding himself in the bathroom of a diner. With no apparent ability to control his actions, Lucas stabs a complete stranger to death and then flees the scene of the crime. The next scene finds the player in control of the game's other main characters - police investigators Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles, who are brought in to investigate the same murder. The story continues along, playing a balancing game between Lucas' trying to discover why he killed a complete stranger, and the officers trying to find Lucas. With a little successful sleuthing, the player finds out that Lucas has become part of a series of similar murders with supernatural connotations.

The gameplay behind Indigo Prophecy is a lot like a point-and-click adventure, but with far more interaction on the player's part. Characters are controlled with the left analog stick. The right analog stick doubles as a "look" option and as a means to interact with most of the environment (more on that later). The Left and Right Triggers are used to change camera angles or rotate the camera, depending on the location. When playing as Carla and Tyler, you can use the B Button to switch between characters, which offers an interesting take on any interaction they might have on the environment. Carla may see different clues than Tyler, and both bring a different perspective to the investigation.

When you move your character near something that can be interacted with, icons will appear at the top of the screen. These tell you in what direction to move the Right Analog stick to interact with the item. Except for the use of the A Button to run, you can almost play the whole game with just the triggers and analog sticks. This same interface is used when carrying on conversation chains. When you enter into a conversation, you'll often be given a few topics to choose and a limited amount of time to chose. Certain choices lead to other topics, while closing some of the previous topics. This leads to multiple conversation chains that can be achieved in subsequent playthroughs and even different results that affect the game.

It will not take the player long to find out that they have to perform A LOT of specific actions in a Simon-like matching system. When the player has to perform an acrobatic action or something that requires mental skill, two icons will show up, representing the two analog sticks. The player must then mimic the analog stick movements successfully to succeed at the action. This can be fun in short bursts and proves to be a nice interface for some of the events. Most of the time, failure will only cause the player to be unsuccessful at something that might progress the story in one direction or cause them to lose some mental health (more on this later). Other times, though, failing at this can be fatal. Fortunately, you find life icons around the game, and can store a few just in case you're not successful. The other special action is more of a test of strength where the player must alternate tapping the two Triggers to fill a gauge. Both of these are used extensively to progress the story, but also turn up in actions (like playing the guitar or hitting the heavy bag) that have no effect on your progress.

One of the more interesting elements of the game is how actions affect your player's Mental Health. Major conversations and plot activities can have serious effects on the characters. Even the most minor of actions, like drinking a cup of water or picking up a photo can affect a character's Mental Health gauge. This gauge shows what mental state the character is in, ranging from depressed to stressed to neutral. When the character becomes depressed or anxious, it affects their mental state and how they react, even to the point of being suicidal. This system leads to a deeper character exploration as just about every little intimate interaction affects the characters, thereby giving the player a strong tie to the cast and how the story shapes them. This is no more evident than in the conversation between Tyler and his girlfriend early in the game. Depending on your choices, the conversation can go certain ways and this shows in the emotional state that Tyler leaves the apartment in.

Probably the strongest element present in the game is how the player's choice affects what they see and what occurs later in the game. Most choices may have minor effects, but some can change actions that other characters perform. Case in point is if Tyler is successful in getting an accurate character sketch of Lucas shown on TV and Lucas sees it, he'll suffer a loss of Mental Health. Also, conversation strings, like when Lucas talks with his ex-girlfriend, can end multiple ways. This provides an excellent reason for players to not only retry certain chapters, but replay the game for varied experiences.

Throughout the game you'll find cards that are worth a certain amount of points. These can be found hidden in cabinets, drawers or just corners of rooms out of the camera's view and can be used to unlock music, art, and videos, which can be viewed from the main menu. These really act like DVD extras and are a nice reason to do some real exploration throughout the game.

Graphically, Indigo Prophecy delivers on presenting a detailed world grounded in as much reality as possible. Many of the minor mundane elements present in the real world are executed well in the gameworld. A lot of finer location details are done well to reward even the most casual glance. It's a shame, though, that the game features a lot of low polygon character and item models and some low resolution textures which just leads to making parts of the game feel under detailed in comparison to the extent of real-life elements present. While some of the textures and effects do look good, the blurriness found in a lot of the facial models detracts from the effort made to effectively express emotions. Where the game does it's best is in the execution of cutscenes and action sequences, which are both framed and directed well to maximize the storytelling flair that the game's film-like concept has established. The character animation can be stiff on occasion, but for the most part feels good.

With such a heavy story element, the voice acting for Indigo Prophecy had be strong to not stick out like a sore thumb. Most of the cast delivers their lines excellently. At times, I felt that Lucas was a little stiff, but for the most part, this didn't really hamper the story in any way. Sound effects are performed well and do a nice job at capturing all of their real world counterparts. The soundtrack, done by Angelo Badalamenti, is an amazing element to the game, featuring multiple styles of music that work excellently to set the tone for the story. The overall musical score is perfect for the movie-like theme, and the inclusion of regular music tracks pulls the player into the attempt at reality. A lot of the more melancholy pieces really give weight to Lucas' plight.

While the story-heavy adventure may not be for everyone, though who enjoy this genre will get a lot out of Indigo Prophecy. But this is not to say that everything is perfect. Some of scenarios, like the gymnasium and boxing match, feel like they were made just to wear the player's hands out. The controls and camera tend to be less than perfect, but not so much that it would do more than rarely annoy the player. There are times, like when I had to push the lady in the wheelchair, where I felt like I was trying to drive a semi rather than moving a human around a screen.

For the story alone I would suggest that most people at least give the game a rent. It proves to be successful in providing an engaging, cinematic offering that's enjoyable to experience. The fact that you can replay chapters for different variations allows those who love this kind of freedom to really get the most out of the game. Indigo Prophecy is one of those rare experiences that proves developers can make a great story to go along with their gameplay.

- - Kinderfeld

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