Fahrenheit E3 2004 Hands-On

Sierra's supernatural adventure game will have you investigating the circumstances of a murder you committed.

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If dark, noirlike adventure is what suits your fancy, then Sierra's upcoming adventure game, Farenheit, may be just what you're looking for. In the game, you will play primarily as Lucas Kane, a generally unassuming fellow who, for reasons unbeknownst even to him, kills a complete stranger inside the bathroom of a restaurant and carves strange markings into his own arms. He wakes up the next day in a cold sweat, thinking it's all a dream. That is, until he sees the bloody sheets on his bed. From there, it will be up to you to learn the dark, supernatural circumstances behind this killing. At VU Games' E3 2004 booth, Farenheit was on display, so we jumped at the opportunity to give this strange game a look-see.

During our demo, we essentially played through the first major chunk of the game's opening section. After awaking, we took control of Lucas, exploring his apartment, looking for some kind of clue as to what had happened the night before. Before we could even exit his bedroom, we had to accustom ourselves to the game's unique but strange method of performing actions, like opening doors, putting on clothes, or, really, doing anything. Each time you come across an area where you can perform an action of any kind, you will have to move the right analog stick in a specific pattern. So, for example, to open a door, you simply press the stick down. Likewise, to put on a shirt, you will press it up and then clockwise around 180 degrees. Why exactly this particular mechanic is required to do everything in the game wasn’t exactly made clear, and though using the stick totally worked fine for each action we performed, it was, overall, more than a bit clunky.

Significantly cooler than the weird analog-stick-action control was the game's plot and, moreover, its branching, decision-based story structure. Rather than try to map this out, let us just give an example. After waking up and walking through Lucas' apartment, we discovered a bloody T-shirt on the ground. Immediately after throwing it into a washing machine and bandaging up our bloody wrists, we got a premonition of a cop knocking on Lucas' door. Sure enough, moments later, a knock arrived at the door. Of course, there was a cop there demanding that we open up. For some strange reason, the door was locked, so we had to find the key to the door to let him in. Had we not found it, the cop would have busted in and arrested us, thus ending the game. However, because we found the key and opened the door, the cop instead began questioning us about some screaming neighbors had reported. We had multiple answers we could give him, though, apparently, the one we gave him wasn't sufficient, because he demanded to come in to have a look around.

We might have been OK had we realized before that the bloody sheets were on the bed. Once we did realize this, it was too late, and the cop was already on his way to take a peek in the bedroom. At this point, a strange little minigame popped up. In it, we had to press a specific ordering of buttons to stop the cop from entering the room. Once we did, we jumped in front of him and were given four options for an excuse to make him leave. Pick the wrong answer, and it's game over. Pick the right one, and he will leave.

All of this is basically one long example of the game's branching storyline. Your decisions and actions will ultimately determine which of the multiple endings you will see at the game's conclusion. While we very much like this concept, we're a little apprehensive about the game's odd right-analog-control scheme and that really strange minigame stuff that popped up during our encounter with the cop. Regardless, we are still intrigued and are anxious to learn more about the game. Currently, the game is only confirmed for a European release, but it is also tentatively scheduled to come out in the US late this year. We will have more on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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