Indigo Prophecy Update
We went to a recent press event to try to find out why ordinary people are turning into cold-blooded killers in this thriller from Quantic Dream and Atari.
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Indigo Prophecy is a modern adventure game that revolves around a mysterious and brutal murder committed by the main character of the game, Lucas Kane. Developer Quantic Dream is going for a creepy, supernatural thriller story, and based on a demo we saw at a recent press event, it looks like it's doing a pretty good job of bringing that tension and suspense to the game.
The game takes place in New York City in 2009, and you switch back and forth between Lucas and the two detectives who are assigned to the murder case. In any given situation, you have several different choices that affect the outcome of the story. In all, there are six different endings in the game, so you'll have reason to play through it multiple times to try to get different results. The story takes an estimated 15 hours to complete, but there are areas to explore and bonuses to unlock, which could push the play clock closer to 20 hours.
By now, the game's intro murder scene in the diner is pretty familiar, because we've seen it several times. However, during this demo we also got to check out a lengthy action sequence that looks pretty exciting. Lucas is walking down the street when a police cruiser pulls up. Lucas bolts, and all hell breaks loose. Police cars start showing up by the dozen as Lucas vaults cars and tries to make a break for it. Every time you're required to perform an action, you see two indicators onscreen that look similar to the old memory game, Simon. Directions will light up, and you have to press the analog sticks in the given direction to complete the action.
There are different failure animations for each action sequence, which should appeal to the morbid curiosity in all of us by allowing you to see several different demises for poor Lucas. After jumping cars and running through traffic, Lucas hops up and grabs ahold of the bottom of a helicopter. At that point, the player has to perform a feat of strength to hold on. Feats of strength require you to hit the L and R triggers as fast as possible to max out a small meter that appears onscreen. According to the developer, there are about eight of these long action sequences in the game, which should provide for some excitement to break up the story once in awhile.
Another unique part of Indigo Prophecy is the emotional health meter that appears onscreen to denote a character's response to the decisions you make. If Lucas gets too stressed out, he'll simply give up and turn himself in. If the detectives, Carla and Tyler, get frustrated, they'll simply quit the case and the game will end. You can base a lot of your decisions on the emotional health of a character. For example, in the opening scene after Lucas murders a man in the restroom, you can choose to have him wash up and hide the body, or have him run out the door. If you hide the body, you'll see his emotional state start to level out and he will be more calm and collected.
It's an interesting narrative technique to switch between a criminal and a police officer, and it gets even weirder when you start identifying with this person who just brutally murdered some poor guy in a diner. We saw plenty of imagery such as pentagrams, ominous, hooded figures, and candles, which suggests that there are dark forces at work here. But, of course, Quantic Dreams isn't giving us any clues as to what's really going on.
The game definitely has a cinematic look and feel, from the opening shot of the snowy, desolate-looking city of New York, to the screen splits that show a police officer discovering the murder victim while you try to flee the scene. Most of the time, there are no onscreen displays to take you out of the experience. There are also several quick cuts and cinematic shots that really set the scenes up to maximize the suspense and mystery of it all. The graphics look pretty nice, and all the cutscenes we saw were in-game, so there were no breaks in the presentation. The characters look decent, but they move and talk a bit stiffly at this point. Most of the dialogue and voice work sounds natural, which is especially important because there's a lot of it in the game.
The soundtrack for Indigo Prophecy is a mix of orchestrated tracks from Twin Peaks composer, Angelo Badalamenti, as well as 12 licensed songs that play on radio stations throughout the game. The music helps set the tone of each scene, from the creepy opening scene to the fast-paced action sequences.
Indigo Prophecy is complete at this point, so you can expect our full review closer to the September 20 release date.