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Critical Reception: Quantic Dream's/Atari's Indigo Prophecy

In this week's Critical Reception, we take a look at Quantic Dream-developed, Atari-published third-person action game Indigo Prophecy (also known as Fahrenheit...
In this week's Critical Reception, we take a look at Quantic Dream-developed, Atari-published third-person action game Indigo Prophecy (also known as Fahrenheit in Europe), a game that could possibly bring new meaning to the term "cinematic gameplay." A story-driven suspense thriller, and one of the critical surprises of this year's game releases, the game features numerous decisions that can alter the course and the ending of the game. Critically praised for its strong characters, excellent story, and great sound, this relative underdog of a title garnered an 81%, 85%, and 86% on the PC, PS2, and Xbox respectively, according to game review compilation site GameTab. In terms of plot, GameSpot's Alex Navarro described it thus: "It is with no amount of exaggeration that we state Indigo Prophecy features one of the best stories so far this year, as well as a remarkable amount of character depth. The game is like an unholy mixing of The X-Files, The Dead Zone, and CSI, with sprinklings of The Matrix and Shenmue thrown in for good measure. But the incredible thing is that it never flies off the rails, no matter how ambitious its intentions are. The story dives into some truly morbid territory, with its ritualistic killings, deeply troubled protagonist, and downright intriguing backstory." Navarro also explains the title's gameplay style succinctly, noting that the somewhat unconventional controls are rooted more in maintaining the narrative than simple item collection: "You take part in every action in Indigo Prophecy - from the biggest fight sequence, to the most minor of day-to-day tasks - and you do it all with simple movements of the analog sticks on your PC gamepad or with some quick button presses that are more akin to a rhythm game than a typical third-person adventure." The game's characters were also an agreed-upon strength, as GameSpy's Ray Padilla explains of it: "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." While, reviewers agreed that the raw graphics for the game were less than stellar, the overall atmosphere was still compelling, especially due to the audio for Indigo Prophecy, which includes music by Angelo Badalamenti, who has composed for several David Lynch projects. As summed up by IGN's Charles Onyett: "The sound completely makes up for the graphics in terms of creating a believable and tense atmosphere, adds a significant tension to the action scenes, as well as providing an excellent accompaniment to the mental states of the game's characters." As for the variance in scores, the PC version of Indigo Prophecy lost out compared to console versions due to the fact that "playing the game with the standard keyboard-and-mouse setup is not fun and can get awfully frustrating," according to Padilla, a sentiment also echoed by GameSpot's Navarro: "Not everyone is going to love the way this game plays (especially if you're forced to do it with a mouse and keyboard setup)..." All in all, the Indigo Prophecy offers the unique premise of a well-executed story-driven game with original IP. Although critically well-received, it is as yet unclear how the title will be accepted for Quantic Dream and Atari at the cash register - comparably interesting original games such as Ubisoft's Beyond Good & Evil have historically had trouble finding an audience.

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