Written by  :  Matt Neuteboom (989)
Written on  :  Nov 14, 2005
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars

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An immersive, deep, emotional game that will keep you at the edge of your seat

The Good

When I first heard about Indigo Prophecy, I was stoked. Finally a game that wasn’t linear, that allowed you to do things and find out things yourself. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this title and I finally got to rent it this week.

The games main focus is the story, rather than action. It takes the form of being a movie, with the director addressing you in the beginning of the game, telling you that you now have complete control over the action of the movie AND the dialogue. The basic drive of the game is not like a sand box game, but the actions you feel most natural taking affects the plot in every way, right down to the order you do things. And God they did it perfectly.

The story starts off pretty simple: you were possessed by some unknown being and forced to commit a murder. Now you, Lucas Kane, are on the run from the police. The story is brilliantly made though. Even though you control the game, the game makes sure that sooner or later you get all of the essentials in before the game is over. As it develops a deep, dark, twisting plot emerges that will blow you away.

The best part easily about this game is the fact that YOU control the story. Where it goes is completely up to you. You reveal the story through directing what the characters say. You choose the best way to reveal a story. Suppose you want to make the story completely baffling until the end of the story. Okay. All you have to do is make sure that the dialogue that takes place doesn’t reveal too much. Or maybe you want to reveal bits and pieces and then towards the end, all of the pieces fall into place. Or even if you want a good, slowly developing story that reveals it as you go, it doesn’t matter. You control all of the characters (or at least all of the main characters), and as a result, you have the welcoming feeling that you control the storyline, and it doesn’t control you.

Now, not only do you control the way the story is revealed, but also what is in it. My making certain decisions, you can completely alter the content of the story. For example, if you make the right decisions, you are able to save your brother from death. However, if you make the wrong decisions, your brother will die a tragic death. This combined with the fact that you control how the story is revealed makes for one of the greatest video games experiences ever.

As a result, the game has tons of endings to it. Not only will game play be different every time, but the story will be as well. And every time you do it the dialogue will be different, resulting in a new story every time you play it. Some games claim to have open-ended game play with branching storyline. But Indigo Prophecy is far from a branching game. It is never set up before you play, but instead it alters itself depending on what you choose during the game, to ensure a good changing storyline as you go, and that the story isn’t predictable.

Game play consists of a combination between story parts and action sequences. Story sequences are usually in the form conversations, which you have direct control over. You can choose to talk to someone or not, which reveals certain parts of the story. You can ignore premonitions that the character gets and go with your gut instinct. Directing the story is easy, as the direction you want the story to go in is directly reflected in character’s dialogue options. You have to choose a conversation option quickly, as you have a time limit to choose an option. Also, you don’t get to go back and make all of the choices because most of the time the game will only allow you to ask a few questions, not all of them, or the option to make one choice will disappear once you ask another. This keeps the game from getting stale and letting you ask all the questions you want.

Because the game’s main focus is the story, this does not mean it has no action scenes. In fact, action scenes make up a good part of the game. Instead of moving around with the character as most games would, you hit buttons on the screen to ensure that your character gets out of the scene alive. There are two types of button mashing to do. The first is pressing L1 and R1 repeatedly to make sure that the character can withstand something for a prolonged period of time. An example of this is hanging from a rail or pushing against strong winds. The other, and more common, test is moving the analog sticks when told to do so. Two circles with four colored sides appear at the bottom of the screen. When one side lights up, you push that side with the right or left analog stick as indicated. Sometimes this can get very intense. Sometimes two directions appear at once, and a lot of times it gets VERY fast, especially when you’re dodging something. As a result, quick reflexes and good hand-to-eye coordination is needed to stay alive. Failing a test means losing a “life”. Lose all your lives and you must restart from the last save point.

Interaction with objects and people is innovative. You use the right analog stick to choose options in interaction, as well as choosing options in a conversation. Even doing other actions you use the analog. Like if your are climbing over a fence, you first have to push your analog right to move your leg out, and then swing it up to swing up your leg, which gives a great immersive feel to it. The use of the analog sticks gives a great smooth feel to interaction in the game, as it uses your thumbs and avoids the use of having to pull your fingers up to the buttons to play.

During the game, the screen splits up to reveal two sides of what is happening. It sometimes warns you of incoming cops, while other times it is just for a flashy show. It adds to the illusion of a living, breathing world around you, because it shows you that other thing go on while you aren’t there. This definitely adds to the immersion of the game.

The characters are some of the best you will encounter in a story based game. In the beginning you will be presented with characters that aren’t cardboard cut-outs at all. They seem real, and the game designers went to great lengths to make them seem like they have emotions. When they hear bad news, their facial expressions become solemn and sad, but when they become aggravated, they become tough and anxious. By the end of the game, you will become attached to even the game’s main enemy, who is mysterious and powerful in every way. The voice acting is superb on all of them, which makes the game seem more realistic. There is almost no cheesy lines in the game, which make the characters more believable

The graphics, while I will not say are revolutionary, are satisfactory for a game like this. Graphics had to be toned down just slightly to make room for more memory for storyline. But I will assure you it was worth every byte of memory. The graphics are far from crappy, and you will find that they are perfect for a game such as this. The character models are done well, and facial expressions are clear and crisp.

A great part of the graphics is that all pre-rendered cut scenes are done completely with the game’s game play engine, so you will fell that when a cut scene comes, it does not break away from the immersion of it. Instead, the cut scenes flow with the game play perfectly, as there is no lag before or after the cut scene, and graphics are the same as the game play graphics. As a result, cut scenes do not cut into the game, but flow seamlessly in and out of game play, which is good, because cut scenes can occur unexpectedly and surprisingly anytime during the game.

Sound is surprisingly good. Directed by Angelo Badalamenti, the music is well fit for each situation. It becomes tense at the right moment and sad at the perfect moment, to add a great deal of immersion to the game. You will be gripped by the main theme, a sad combination of violins and other instruments, which lends to the games dark atmosphere. Sound effects are done quite well, so that they don’t seem fake, which again contributes to the immersion.

Finally, a great feature is the use of “chapters” throughout the game. The game automatically creates chapters, so that when you are done the game you can go back and make new decisions at key points in the plot. It also has an amazing system in choosing. You can choose to play the chapter in a new save file, and by doing so you can create multiple stories without ruining your old one. Also, if you are done with the story you are on, you can choose to go back and overwrite your old story with a new one. This way, creates multiple storylines is easy, and you don’t have to mess with multiple save files for multiple stories.

Finally, the game obviously has some great replay value. You can choose to keep replaying the game for a while before the overall story gets boring, and even that will take a while. This game has one of the greatest stories, and some of the most lovable characters to boot.

The Bad

While a game such as this seems flawless, it is not perfect.

Even though you can change the story around a lot, you can throw something new in every time. The story is flexible, but it still has a basic backbone of the same story. Even when you replay the game, you will still know the story already, and you can’t throw something new in like killing a character or refusing to progress the story. As a result, the game will only be tolerable a few times through until you get bored of the story, even if you can change the way its told every time.

I would like to point out that while the interaction controls are fun and good, moving around can be a nightmare. The problem is that the game gets its movement controls from the position of the camera. However, the controls do not adjust accordingly when the camera changes. As a result, the directions feel mixed up. You could be moving down when in fact you are pushing left on the controller. This can make some of the parts frustrating. LUCKILY, the game has no major parts where you have to dodge bullets manually, or where you have to run manually, so we have a good break there.

The game is pretty short. Even on my first time through I was able to beat it within 6-8 hours. As a result, the game completely relies on the replay factor. Fortunately, the game changes every time you play, and as a result every time you start a new story, the game doesn’t get any shorter. It relies on your ability to make good decisions, not your skill at the game, so game will never be shorter the more you play them.

Action sequences are fast and action-packed, but unless you can look in two directions at once, you will be staring at the bottom of the screen for the most part. They are perfect for any matrix fan to enjoy, but in order to get past these scenes you will be continuously watching the bottom two circles for your next move. The lucky part is that you can go back to watch all of the action sequences again in bonuses to have a nice look at what you might have missed.

On top of this, sometimes when you miss your chance to hit a direction, you miss every other one as well. Imagine something like DDR. Once you miss one, sometimes it is going so fast that you miss every one after it until you get your rhythm back again. However, this happens very rarely during the game, and most times you won’t notice.

Also, they could have done way more in an action sequence than just use the bottom two circles. You feel that pressing directions on the analog sticks will get repeating, and even the occasional pressing of the L and R buttons won’t mix things up much, and you just can’t help but wonder why they didn’t add some more stuff to it than that. I mean, the way they used the controller during the game was fairly impressive, so why couldn’t they just add a little more to mix things up a bit?

Another problem is the lack of something to do BESIDES the story. Out of the main game, the title really has nothing else to offer. It includes some extra unlockable content like “making of” films or concept art, which you can unlock through collecting “bonus cards” throughout the game. However, this only gives you about a half an hour or so extra content before you get through it all.

The Bottom Line

This title is definitely something to look at if you are tired of bland FPS and shooters where the entire game is how many bullets you can pump into. If you are a fan of a deep, intriguing plot and likable characters then this is definitely a game for you. Whether you want to buy it or not, this is a game for you to definitely try out once. I would recommend that you rent this game first, to make sure that you can handle replaying it, as that is where this game gets its most of its content. I would also recommend renting it due to the fact that not all gamers can go a long time in a game without shooting something. If you love the game then, and want to be able to go back to it time after time, then this is a game for you to get!