Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy
Publisher: Atari, Inc. (Original) / Aspyr (Remaster)
Developer: Quantic Dream
Genre: Graphic Adventure
Release Dates: 29 Jan, 2015 (EU & NA) - Steam Version
As a fan of both interactive novels as well as Quantic Dream's other more recent games I was expecting Fahrenheit to be a memorable story with interesting characters and suspenseful moments despite the game's age, especially considering the praise it has received over the years from both critics and gamers alike, and while the story starts off on a high note with an exciting mystery to unravel, it gets very ridiculous and clicheic by the end. Fahrenheit combines supernatural events with powers such wall running, flying and sixth sense type abilities to such a degree that it often feels absurd and unneeded, each chapter adding more ridiculousness and over the top moments in order to stand out, but in all that chaos somewhere at the middle point it stops making sense and starts feeling more like a script written by Michael Bay with the purpose of cashing out on the backbone of an interesting idea. Fahrenheit in many ways feels like the result of David Cage watching the Matrix and turning that into a video game story script by adding a bunch of other memorable sequences from other popular movies, but by doing that it loses its personality and the story becomes a mess.
Similar to Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream's next game released after this, you take control of multiple characters trying to make sense of an overall story arc and even though that script makes sense for most parts all the way to the end, it ends up disappointing as the second half of the game feels rushed, important plot points between some chapters are absent and the whole thing turns into a typical superhero story without the superhero gameplay. The story starts off with Lucas Kane, one of the main protagonists of the game being forced to commit a murder during an evening in a local restaurant when a voodoo-like experience takes control of his body and actions, resulting in him murdering a man he didn't even know. Set on finding out what happened to him Lucas takes on a journey trying to find allies who would believe his story, while also running from the police, more specifically Detective Carla Valenti and her partner Tyler Miles, both of which you also get to play as. This gives you a wider perspective on the story as you get to see it from different eyes and root for your favorite character, but it also means the game skips some moments in a character's plot so you can uncover them from the next character's eyes when you end up taking control of them, one example of this is the interrogation section where you first play as Lucas where some of his actions are hidden so you wouldn't know what he did when you switch to Carla.
There are so many weak points and flaws in the plot, but for the sake of not spoiling anything I won't go into further details, but I will talk a little about the promise of choice, which a lot of games seem to promise, but very few seem to deliver on it. Throughout the game you can select different responses when talking to other characters, however most of those are only dialogue related and won't change the outcome of the story in any shape or form, but there are a few key decisions that will change some moments and most of those are in the final stages of the game, creating three different possible endings. However, the impact of those decisions earlier on when it comes to the ending is null as you can just replay the final chapter and depending on how you end that, you can get any of the endings regardless of your previous decisions, which feels disappointing not only because the actions you previously took don't matter, but also because every ending feels anticlimactic and the final battle is shorter, easier and just overall blander than all of the battles you've had before.
If there's one thing in the early 2000s era of games that everyone seems to universally hate nowadays that's the relative camera, which means the camera will automatically switch when you move to a specific point and even though you can look in any direction relative to that fixed position using the right analog stick when in exploration mode that doesn't really solve any part of the problem, it just feels like something they thought would be cool to have back in 2005 without actually thinking too much about the implications. The problem with the camera system is that you never know when the camera is going to switch to a different position and the movement of your character is camera relevant instead of character relevant, so you will come across many situations when you're walking in a direction and then the camera switches to a different position, leaving your character walking in a different direction that you didn't want to follow or just walking into the environment, and it's never really something that you get used to, especially if you've been getting used to free camera movement in modern games and find it generally hard to go back to older games for this exact reason. Also to be clear, this is a review of the remastered version of this game which came out in 2016, which means they had plenty of time and opportunities to fix the camera before re-releasing the game and we've seen how much impact doing something as simple as that can have on an older game especially with the excellent Resident Evil 2 & 3 remakes that came out recently and leaving the remake aspect aside, fixing the camera movement alone reinvigorated those games that originally had the same problem.
The actual gameplay is by far the worst part of this game and if you have played any Quantic Dream game previously you know that they aren't games in the traditional sense as much as they are interactive stories where dialogue and quick time events take center stage and if Fahrenheit was just that it would've been a much better experience playing it, but instead of doing that they decided to put this Simon Says game type mechanic where you have 2 circles with 4 directions each always placed in the center of the screen when an action sequence takes place, which often means missing out on the actual action because you're too concentrated on those circles and not missing out the right direction. Each circle is controlled by one of the analog sticks and each direction has a color assigned to it, so when the red part of the right circle flashes you have to move the right stick upwards, when the yellow flashes you have to move it to the right and so on. There are a few problems with this mechanic aside from the obvious one which is that it's stupid and boring, but the fact that you have those giant circles at the center of the screen at all time means you will automatically concentrate on that and your peripheral vision will ignore the rest of the screen, so you end up missing the actual action and also many of those sequences don't have a pattern so those movements are random and missing a single flash will end up costing you the next 3 and ultimately lead to your death once you run out of lives. Also the checkpoint system is horrible as some some of those Simon Says sections can take up entire minutes and with no checkpoints in between them, each time you get distracted and miss a flash resulting in your failure, you have to do the whole thing again from the beginning, which can get really frustrating in some sections.
To recap the gameplay elements in this game you have: the exploration sections in which your camera is your worst enemy, the dialogue sections in which your responses don't actually matter that much, the Simon Says sections which are by design horrible and because they probably figured that wouldn't be enough there's one additional gameplay mechanic which requires you to alternate between pressing LB & RB as fast as you can for things like running, which might be the best mechanic in this game, not because it's good, but because unlike everything else this one actually works and doesn't make things worse. There is also no type of side content and the interaction with the environment is very limited as for most times you can only interact with the objects that you're supposed to interact with in order to advance the story. As a final element worth mentioning you have the Sanity Meter that will go down if your characters are under stress and results in failure if you reach zero, but I've never over the course of the game reached that naturally and had to forcefully do it in order to get an achievement, so this feels like nothing more than a cheap gimmick that doesn't really affect the game in any way.
This is yet another game in the long list of titles slapping the word Remastered to it without actually improving much, sure you can now play the game in HD or 4K resolution, but that doesn't mean the game has HD or 4K textures, it's just the same thing upscaled, which make many parts of it looks even worse than they originally did. On top of that the visual effects are limited to what a PS2 could do and the animations, especially the facial ones look horrible by today's standards, but still pretty good by 2005 standards, however to mention it once again this is a remaster so there's really no excuse for not even attempting to improve them. The characters are probably the most refined element in the game, but they still look bulky as they usually did in early 2000s games, as for the locations there's a lot of variety but also very little decor as the hardware back then couldn't render that many objects at one time and they didn't bother to add anything else in this remaster apart from a Beyond Two Souls album so they can market their other games because why not.
David Gasman takes on the the role of Lucas Kane as well as Tyler Miles while Barbara Scaff provides the voice of Carla and they both do a great job with their lines considering the absence of many audio features that we are used to today, the problem here comes from the weak dialogue itself, as many lines feel absurd, out of place or just unneeded. The side characters have even less emphasis on delivery as some of the actors sound like they've just finished playing Indigo Prophecy because that's how bored they sound. The soundtrack is okay although not used where needed the most, which are the exploration sections where you spend a lot of time just walking around in silence, with a few exceptions where you can turn on the CD player for some music. The sound effects are great for a 2005 game, but they have also been neglected in this remaster, so nowadays the quality of sound overall can be disappointing.
It takes around 8-9 hours to finish the game and even though you'd think a game with multiple choices and endings would have some replay value as mentioned before you can see all the different endings by just replaying the final chapter and all the other decisions you can make throughout the game barely have an impact, so a second playthrough might not interest a lot of people. There are also a few achievements for doing specific things in the game, but just like the endings you can get those by just replaying the chapter without having to go through the entire thing again.
I really wanted to like this game because I generally enjoy narrative focused games, any type of science fiction scenarios and don't mind QTE replacing traditional gameplay, but Fahrenheit is just a clusterfuck of ideas and moments stolen from popular movies that it's having a hard time marking its identity and as a result it feels disappointing in almost every way. The story starts off interesting, but falls short by the end, the gameplay is just horrible and pointless and any hopes of reshaping this game into something better were shattered when Aspyr decided to not do anything and just republish this game in its original state with the label "Remastered" slapped next to it. If you ask me I think a lot of the positive opinions about this game come from nostalgia and if you have memories playing this when it originally came out that might be enough for you to pick up this version and see how it has aged for yourself, but if you've never played this before I just don't think this is a great experience today.