Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered
- Street Date:
- January 29th, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Brian Hoss
- Review Date:1
- February 20th, 2015
- Game Release Year:
- Aspyr Media
- Aspyr Media/Quantic Dream
Steam PC version reviewed. Original PC version referenced for comparison's sake. Review is light on spoilers.
Back in 2005, a story-driven multiplatform game from Quantic Dream was released. Known as 'Indigo Prophecy' in North America and 'Fahrenheit' everywhere else, the game was brew of high production values, mo-cap, adventure game mechanics, quick-time events, and a lot more credited to the direction of the ever polarizing David Cage.
Flash forward to 2015 and the game returns courtesy of Aspyr Media under the name 'Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered.' This new version is based off of the international uncut version, and promises both HD textures and full controller support among its updates.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
What Remastering Means in 'Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered'
Right off the bat, I have to say that prior to playing 'Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered,' I have had in my possession for many years both the old Steam version of 'Indigo Prophecy' (which is still in my Steam account, but otherwise seems to have been pulled) and a PS2 disc copy. I also own several other Quantic Dream games. That should tell you a few things.
First of all, I must be fan of the game, and second, if anyone can tell you if this new version is an upgrade, it would be someone who owns (and has played) both PC versions. Well, yes and no.
The reason I own 'Indigo Prophecy' on the PS2 is because the old PC version I got from Steam had a few major problems. Chief among these problems was its inability to properly support a controller.
In contrast, this new remastered version does the exact thing that I wanted years ago as it supports the now PC gaming standard wired 360 controller. Marketing smoke aside, that's half of this version's major strength. The other half in the uncensored nature.
Speaking of the formerly censored content, it's not exactly worth much fuss. Back in 2005, there was a big uproar over the 'San Andreas' hot coffee mod. That controversy had a few side effects, including the North American 'Indigo Prophecy' game getting its risqué bits cut out. Playing/watching those steamy bits ten years later, and I can only shake my head. Shades of teenage slasher flick voyeurism might be worth frowning over if it weren't PS2 era graphics. Really though, these scenes are just one facet of the game's tableau of scenes. Getting chased by giant bugs, playing the guitar with slashed up arms, pouring invisible drinks- the scenes are just as important as having sex in an abandoned subway surrounded by an army of bums.
As for the HD textures… See the video section below, but the short story is that not much has changed. Mainly, some chunky textures have been cleaned up, but what's more important is that this new version can support both high resolutions and a widescreen aspect ratio. What used to top out at 1600 x 1200 is now free to go higher. Considering that for the most part this is a widescreen game, the added support is welcome.
Adventure Game Diatribe
At this point in 2015, and I can't help but think it's a remarkable time to revisiting 'Fahrenheit'/'Indigo Prophecy.' This isn't because of Quantic Dream, whose first PS4 title is still a ways away from a public showing. It's more because adventure games of all kinds continue to prove that there is an interested audience.
Fueled by great licenses, strong writing, and easy availability, the Telltale Games brand continues continue to grow, but at the time, fans of traditional adventure games appear be to put off, and frequently describe the dialog-heavy gameplay interactive movies while speaking fondly of the 'Sam and Max' days.
Meanwhile, a AAA title like 'The Order: 1886' runs afoul of a twin-headed monster as it gets labeled as being too short, too cutscene heavy, and too QTE heavy.
By comparison, 'Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered' has plenty of classic adventure game gameplay, and the last thing that I would describe it as is too short.
The game has a tutorial, which is optional, but in spite of the ramblings of the virtual David Cage, this is a pretty important tutorial. More than once during the game (as in prior playthroughs), I had to recall the gameplay from the tutorial in order to be able to get through the early chapters. With the odd tutorial out of the way, it's time to move on to the game proper.
Even in 2015, 'Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered' has one of the best openings of any video game around. Naturally, the opening credit sequence and monologue looks like it was lifted straight from a movie, but it's a movie that I want to watch. The game's set-up can be credited heavily for its cult status, but it's more than just the passive watching part that is so good.
As the viewer we see a grand, if cold and familiar cityscape, interspersed with the protagonist, Lucas Kane, musing from a park bench. As the camera moves forward, we get to see Lucas at the story's flashpoint, the Men's room of a local diner. Yep, it's a filthy bathroom, and it's going to get a high amount of traffic during the game. And yet, there are several other bathrooms and kitchens in this game (and in all Quantic Dream games).
We see Lucas, trance like and bleeding, viciously murder another man in the men's room. The deed done, the player gets control of Lucas, and it's here where the passive movie watching fun turns active. Courtesy of a '24' like multiangle shot, we get to see one of Lucas' premonitions, the cop inside the diner is just moments away from taking a stroll into the Men's room and discovering Lucas and the bloody mess that's there.
With little time to decide (or even remember how to play from the tutorial), the player must guide Lucas' efforts to hide his crime and escape, and the choices made here will have an effect throughout the game.
Assuming the player's not frozen in fear, getting Lucas out of Dodge isn't all that hard. The surprise will comes with the next segment. Before getting a chance to be sad with Lucas, the game thrusts the player into a new role, that of Carla and Tyler, the detectives assigned to investigate the murder.
That means a return to the diner, but now, the idea is to investigate and discover clues. This is a pretty odd shift, as the detective work is a bit more sedate than the crazy possession killing/cover up and escape segment from before. But playing as detective (really as two detectives) is its own interesting aspect, as least gameplay wise. There's lots of dramatic irony going on, however, as treading the same ground as perp and detective fluctuates between illuminating and boring in a classic adventure game go around and click stuff sort of way.
For several chapters, switching between Lucas and the detectives works well enough. Eventually, the promising opening gives way some real unevenness as the game goes from focused to blurry.
So far, I've talked about tense moments with Lucas and more conventional moments with Carla and Tyler. One common element between these characters is an emotional state meter that gets boosted or depressed through player actions. Mop up some blood and sip some coffee, and Lucas's meter gets points taking him out of stressed and into neutral. Find some clues and play with a yo-yo, and Carla is likewise feeling better. Tyler has fiancée that worries about him. Spend some intimate time with her, and Tyler feels great, but spoil a nice evening and Tyler's meter drops. It all might sound silly, especially as its one of the things that Quantic Dream has handled better in more recent titles, but it's surprisingly effective. For example, I spent some time getting Lucas to play his favorite songs on guitar only to have him dismayed when he turned on the news and saw the murder scene.
The game has its own second stick motions that let the controller command the characters. Walking around is pretty rough by most third person game standards, but it's mostly fine. There's even limited camera control, but it can get a little clunky when the camera collides with say the corner of a wall.
The game's action scenes, of which there are many, have the player doing one of two distinct QTE games. When the screen is overlaid with Simon looking circles, the player needs to enter the patterns indicated on screen as quick as possible. It might look like Simon, but it's more like 'Rock Band.' It's more about reacting quickly than any kind of memorization. It's straight QTE though as the colors are only cues, and aren't tied to regular commands.
The other QTE style has the player alternating shoulder buttons rapidly. This is about as 'Mario Party' as it sounds.
Again, Quantic Dream has done this better in more recent games, but worse, the QTE's, of which there are just way too many, (including whole cutscene chapters away from the playable characters that still require the Simon looking inputs), are honestly overly distracting. There might be a cool fight or chase, or even a b-ball match going on in the game, but the player is stuck having to focus on the QTE sequence.
Failing these QTEs means different things. There's player death, which requires a checkpoint restart, there's the player losing a life (pro tip: always pick up any religious mementoes in the game), there's times when failing is a good thing as it avoids some mental loss, there's even times when frustratingly, failing is unavoidable.
There are few times when the game surprises with a unique or semi unique segment of gameplay, such as the shooting range and the breathing exercises. These moments can be a relief from the game's mainstay QTEs, but understanding how to successfully do what's being indicated can be the cause of a few checkpoint restarts.
The game even has a few stealth sections which are tough enough that the ideal path is spelled out in a mini map. One good flashback had me scrambling. I made the mistake of messing with the control options, and the game's tricky walking became a complete crapshoot. (This was fixed by setting the option back.)
I wish there was an option to reduce the QTE's by half (plus get rid of the cutscene chapter QTEs altogether), especially towards the end of the game, when the checkpoints get few and far between.
Somewhere within 'Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered' there is a good story, but for those that complete the game, it all goes rotten. Again, the set-up is good, and there are lots of interesting, fun, and entertaining scenes sprinkled throughout the game, but when it starts to go bad, the fall is precipitous. It seems like the game should be Lucas' story, but the player spends so much time with Carla and Tyler, that well, it's hard to see what Cage was going for. It's fair to point out that rough walking aside, this game lacks the kind of dissonance of most games. There isn't a cutscene showing a playable character as contrite about violence followed the in-game killing of hundreds of enemies on screen. These characters are more consistently believable. They've got regular problems, but they are also pretty hammy. There really isn't room for Lucas, Carla, and Tyler, to all be playable and interesting characters.
Worse, even when the mysterious baddies come into view, the game starts throwing an endless series of twists that seem to want to invoke every kind of story sub-genre around. The last several chapters play as though someone watched some M. Night movies, and figured what was needed was several more twists. Cage clearly also had a fascination with 'The Matrix' and the results are worse than shoehorned.
I mentioned the ever-present bathroom setting before, but there are some other settings that feel fresh compared with games in general but are too frequently featured in Quantric Dream titles. There are kitchens, offices, military bases, police stations, rooftops, chases scenes, sex scenes, and several other grimy (but cinematic) cliché locales. (Abandoned amusement park anyone?)
In between all the noise, there are moments, mainly with Lucas, that are worth pause. His childhood and relationship with his brother, religion, work, an ex girlfriend, and how it all is affected by what appears to be the onset of homicidal madness is good story fodder for a while. Of course, those character notes are typical for Quantic Dream, and not for many other games. Even though it all goes off rails, the promise is still there for those looking to find it.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
In 2005, this was cutting edge stuff. The heavy use of mo-cap and impressive choreography, combined with that gritty, (mostly) grounded world is something to really take in in 2005. In 2015, however, it's almost quaint, and the update is very slight. Apart from making the game run in higher resolutions, in widescreen, and behave (somewhat) better with dual monitors, the visual update is very restrained. The menus and text have been cleaned up, but when it comes the characters and environments, very few textures appear to have been touched.
This is easy to check since the game lets the user switch on the fly by hitting F9. In some cases, a very chunky looking texture has been switched out for the better, but there are lots of ugly PS2 era textures still to be found. Shadows do seem better. The original version has a noise overlay (film grain) that suits the game, but has been taken out in the remaster. I suspect that once the texture work was begun, the Aspyr team found that game's geometry was built with low-res textures in mind, and trying to drop in a new texture was like pulling on a thread.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The audio appears to be a straight port, which is fine since its original high production value holds up. The original music does a nice job a setting the mood, but several of the pop songs used in the game had me turning off the various in-game stereo systems. The voice acting is good, but can get very wooden when the writing stumbles. This is especially true early in the story when Lucas repeatedly attempts to explain his situation to his brother. Once the story nosedives, the voice acting does little to save it.
This is an old game brought back for both new and returning players, and I'd agree that it does have replay value for those that have been charmed like myself. This game has a message early on, never mix booze with medication, and those segments along with the beginning are always worth revisiting. The end of the game, however, might be too much at even one playthrough.
The bonus system has players picking up hidden cards that turn into points that can be spent unlocking bonus materials. These are pretty easy to find, so the light payoff seems commensurate.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
Although the visual upgrades are almost altogether MIA, the basic technical upgrades and the previously censored content have been missed in North America for years. Any further changes would need to address the story (nearly a total teardown in the second half).
'Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered' does exactly what users should expect from a remaster, it shines a light on all of the original game's strengths, which are worth noticing. Likewise, the majority of the original game's failings are back in full force in this restrained remaster. Longtime fans will find a technical and content upgrade worth the purchase price, while new players now have the definitive version to try.
- 2560 x 1440
- 5.1 LPCM
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