Indigo Prophecy E3 2005 Preshow Report

We unravel a bit of the mystery surrounding the cinematic and intriguing Indigo Prophecy.

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We were recently treated to an extended viewing of Indigo Prophecy at Atari's pre-E3 press event. Indigo Prophecy is an adventure game that promises both true cinematic immersion and a highly malleable experience. You'll begin the game as Lucas Kane, an unremarkable man who visits a diner for a bit of a gnosh. Things stop being typical when Lucas visits the restroom, where he enters a trance and then brutally stabs a fellow patron to death for no apparent reason. You'll then have to solve this murder mystery, uncovering the secrets of Lucas' strange compulsion and the reasons that could possibly drive an ordinary man to commit such a heinous act. We were able to see the PlayStation 2 version of the game in motion at various stages, and it looks to offer some truly unique traits.

It's got a cryptic name, but Indigo Prophecy is one of the most intriguing adventure games in years.
It's got a cryptic name, but Indigo Prophecy is one of the most intriguing adventure games in years.

The game will attempt to make players feel as if they are part of an interactive film, bringing them close to the action and the characters, and one of the ways it will do so is through its control scheme. There won't be an inventory system, items, menus, or action buttons. All interaction will be effectively restricted to dual analog controllers and the shoulder buttons (in the PS2 version). The left analog stick is used to move your character around, while the right analog stick is used to interact with various objects in the game environment. Each interaction will be mapped to a certain gesture with the right analog stick, such as pushing it forward to open a door. A set of icons will appear at the top of the screen when you go near objects you can manipulate, and this set of icons will serve as a key, of sorts, for the game's various actions. We didn't get our hands on the controller, but the interactions we saw featured simple directional presses that seemed pretty straightforward.

When the character is in a trial that requires some kind of physical exertion (the first example of this we saw involved Lucas, who was dragging his victim's body so he could hide it in a bathroom stall), you'll have to alternate tapping the L1 and R1 buttons rapidly to succeed. A meter will appear to let you know how successful you are in getting the job done. Additional action-movie-type sequences will be controlled by the two analog sticks, requiring timed directional presses to successfully complete the scene. We witnessed both a martial arts sequence and a boxing sequence that played out this way. The game will purportedly include many sequences that use this scheme, such as ice skating, playing basketball, and even playing the guitar. Each of these events will serve to further move the story along.

Another interesting bit of the game has to do with how danger is presented to you. If you stand in the bathroom doing nothing for too long, for instance, a cop in the diner will get up and start to walk toward the restroom. This will be conveyed through a 60-40 vertical split-screen mode that shows your character on the left side (where you'll still be able to play freely), while the impending danger is on the right side. It's a neat way to let you see that trouble's coming, as well as where it's coming from. Additionally, it gives you an idea of roughly how much time you have to either avoid it or run.

The game looked to be running at a fairly solid rate on the PS2, and the visuals were clean, with good detail on the environments. The characters were a little less sharp and didn't have perfectly smooth animation, but they still managed to look good and conveyed the emotions inherent in each scene. We were only able to hear a few snippets of music, but we were told the final game will feature a soundtrack by composer Angelo Badalamenti, who has numerous credits in both film and television to his name, including Twin Peaks.

You'll play from the perspective of different characters, as well as from the points of view of both the hunter and the hunted.
You'll play from the perspective of different characters, as well as from the points of view of both the hunter and the hunted.

What was most interesting about the game to us, though, was the way in which your actions could directly impact the way the story would unfold. For example, after initially taking control of Lucas, there were a number of options available. One was to simply flee the diner, in which case Lucas would burst from the restroom covered in blood, run into a waitress, and then escape through an emergency door on foot. In this scenario, Lucas would become suspect numero uno, the waitress would give a detailed description to authorities, and the crime scene would be totally intact, with evidence everywhere. However, we were able to start the game over to see things unfold in a different way. In another scenario, Lucas dragged the body into a stall and shut the door. Then he cleaned up the blood on the floor, washed the blood from himself, and hid the murder weapon. After this, he casually walked out of both the restroom and the diner. The only reason his departure was marked was that he didn't pay his bill, and even then, no one had special reason to take note of his face.

You'll also play other characters in the game. In fact, two of them will be police officers, Carla and Tyler, who are investigating the murder. Things you'll do as Lucas will have a direct effect on how the investigation progresses for the duo. For example, in the second scenario, the waitress won't be able to give you as detailed a description of Lucas, and you'll have to find the murder weapon by searching (in Lucas' scenario, the screen blacks out as you hide it, so you don't get to cheat). The game will have a number of different endings, and from the sound of it, you'll be able to unravel the story in many different ways to get to one of them. By the end, we were definitely interested in getting our hands on the game to see where the story would take us.

Indigo Prophecy will bring its unique cinematic adventure to the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC this September, and we'll be ready to go hands on with it when we can. Look for more news, impressions, and media of the game through E3, and beyond, right here at this very gamespace.

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