This week I’ll be looking back into the past at Quantic Dream’s earlier attempt of interactive story telling. Fahrenheit (or Indigo Prophecy for you Americans).
I think I can honestly say Fahrenheit has easily taken the award for most disappointing U-turn out of every computer game I’ve played (and I’ve played alot of games). I bought Fahrenheit not too long ago, I had heard of it before and thought nothing more, it’s only when a friend of mine highly recommended it to me, and since I trust the opinions of my friend and bought myself a copy. I had heard that people have been having problems with playing Fahrenheit on anything but XP, which is funny because it rans on my Desktop without any problems (I’m running 7 for those interested).
The story starts with Lucas Kane, who after waking from a trance in a Dinner Toilet realises that he’s murdered someone, fleeing the scene scared and frightened. Next up we have Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles two detectives on the trail of Lucas. An interesting feature of the game is that the game is played from the perspective of all 3 characters, constantly switching between Lucas “pants-wetter” Kane, and our detective duo which in doing so gives the player a well rounded look at the development of both the story and the characters.
I was about half an hour in game and I could see what my friend saw in it. The story was compelling, the atmosphere crotch gripping and the characters were well defined. The use of quick-time events within the game (as much as I’m going to hate myself for saying this) were well done, although there were many of them they were usually short and didn’t consist of more than 6 or 7 button sequences. The interactive story was also something very intriguing. It actually felt like even the smallest thing I did effected the game (whether it did or not it doesn’t matter).
It was only when I got about half-way through the game an odd thing happened. Someone uttered the word “Mysterious Ancient Cult”, Pandora’s Box opened. Forcing all subtlety to exit via the nearest window and as such the story soils itself inside-out. All atmosphere disappeared when Lucas changes from the scared and frightened little boy we all knew to being some kind of Neo-esc “Chosen One” to which breaking the laws of physics comes as naturally as blinking, and as such the massively fight-scenes appeared, which involves you pressing A though Q whenever you are told (and you are told alot) to not die a number of times equivalent to the population of rocks in the universe for the next half an hour or so, which I not only found tiring (My fingers being left in a state residing somewhere around arthritis-ridden and rigamortis) but utterly futile. By what I could make out alot of work had gone into the fight scenes but your too busy frantically mashing buttons to really care. The once interactive story becomes nothing more than a means of driving our protagonist to the end (by this point we also lose the ability to play our other characters too).
As I played though all the things I loved about the game slowly fell away like layers of wet cake. It was destined for greatness but half way through U-turned and sped away. It’s like Atari moulded two completely different games together. The first one about 2 detectives on the trail of a serial killer. The other about a normal 20 something year old who must save the world from great evil. It’s kind of like Se7en (one of my favourite films) moulded with The Matrix. Not that there’s anything wrong with The Matrix, it’s just that the two don’t really have alot of overlap.
So in short, play the first half, as soon as someone mentions an evil mystical cult, burn it. You really don’t want to know how it ends. Trust me.