Indigo Prophecy is a very peculiar game, possibly because it came from France. I had never actually heard of it or knew anything about it until recently when I saw a review on the former Video Game Channel. What I saw made me want to check it out. The only problem was that it was for the PS2 and XBox, consoles that I didn’t (and still don’t) own. So I promptly put it into the back of my mind and went about my business. Some months later I found a lone copy of the PC version I didn’t know existed sitting on the shelf at my local EB Games.
Indigo Prophecy initially places you in control of the main protagonist, Lucas. Although, initially, ‘control’ may not be the right word. You begin the game by helplessly watching as your avatar commits a pretty grisly murder that you’re powerless to stop. When you come to your senses you have to hide the body, evade the police, and figure out what’s going on. In short order, you get introduced to the two other main characters, Carla and Tyler, who are the police officers trying to solve the murder.
It all sounds a little weird on paper, and there are some interesting moments in the game, like when the main characters interact with each other, but overall it comes together surprisingly well.
There are four things that stand out about this game: the animation, the camera angles, the controls, and the story.
Most of the animation in this game has been motion-captured. This make every movement look eerily realistic, and you can look past the rather lackluster character models. Interestingly, I understand that the animators used puppetry techniques to animate the faces of the characters, making them more expressive than I’m used to seeing in a game. I’m so used to expressionless zombies wiggling their lips when they talk, that I was pleasantly surprised. It helped complete the suspension of disbelief, and certainly made the game more engaging.
The camera angles in this game are unique to any game that I’ve ever played. Very often, you will get several different camera angles of the same bit of action all at the same time. I’ve never watched the series, but I understand that it’s very similar to the techniques used on the show 24. The camera angles are used to draw attention to something important in your immediate vicinity, like a phone ringing or someone you’re needing to stealth your way past. They also might show the same thing from several different angles to paint a more complete picture of the action.
The game’s controls make use of the analog sticks in a unique way to perform many of the motions in the game. The actions you have to perform on the sticks roughly equate to the actions you’re wanting your character to do. For example, you want climb up a structure, you move the right stick a quarter-circle right-to-up then the left stick a quarter-circle left-to-up, repeat until ascended. There are other mini-games that take place that require you to keep your balance by tapping the shoulder buttons, or following along with a bizarre Simon-like interface that pops up during action sequences.
Many points in the story have you making moral choices, each of which will cause the story to play out in a slightly different way. None of the choices will impede you from making progress, but they will affect what the characters say and do, kind of like an interactive ‘Choose your own adventure’ kind of way. In a rather lengthy discussion, the developer indicates that his original vision was for the game to be told over several smaller installments, or episodes, but that didn’t come to pass. I didn’t really notice this until about the last quarter of the game where the pacing of the story gets completely out of whack, completely skipping over large chunks of time/exposition, which left me a little confused, and then the game just ended rather abruptly.
The game itself felt kind of short, which is probably due to a combination of being very engaging, and that the game was scaled down from its original epic scope to fit into one ‘episode’.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this game to anyone, except to maybe preschoolers.