Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in North America) is a third-person adventure game which is set in near future New York City. The most important thing to note about Fahrenheit is that it doesn't fall in a specific genre. The game feels a lot like a movie, but the interaction is extensive enough that the player is a crucial part of the unfolding storyline. Lucas Kane is a normal guy working in a bank. One night, in a diner in Brooklyn, he suddenly falls in a sort of state of trance. Like a puppet on strings, he stands up, takes his knife, and goes in the restroom. He carves strange symbols on his arms and then stabs an unsuspecting businessman to death. Then he becomes himself again, and realizes what just happened. Covered in blood, Lucas regains control and awareness, but with no idea why he killed this man. Now, Lucas is a murderer. And this is where the game begins. From here you have a choice. You can just casually walk out, run out, or clean yourself up first, or hide the body, etc. Only as you find out more about the sinister plot that surrounds the murder does the game progress.
In the game you control not only the killer Lucas Kane, but also the police detectives Carla and Tyler. This means that throughout the game you can choose which scenes/parts to play first, which characters to continue with first, and the ability to tackle the game from both sides - killer and police. The game does an excellent job in getting you involved in the plot. Since you play both Lucas and the detectives investigating the murder, you feel the sense of urgency as you struggle to put all the puzzle pieces together of each side. The fact that you are have to make a decision, just makes the game that much better. And of course, like in real life, certain choices come with consequences. Make a wrong decision and you are screwed.
The game controls well with an innovative control scheme that mostly work great. Movement is done with the arrows or by holding down both mouse buttons. Interaction with the environment as well as conversations show the possible choices a player can make by displaying icons on the top bar of the screen. You must make a mouse gesture (similar to Black & White's spell casting system), representing the action you want to execute. There's also a timer in conversations, so you must think quickly what option you'll choose. The action sequences are unique. Rather than use the keyboard or controller to throw punches or block attacks, there is a series of flashing lights corresponding to controller positions or keystrokes that one must mimic in a very short amount of time. Depend on how well you do, Lucas will move accordingly. You'll often have to perform long strings of commands while the action unfolds onscreen. Sure, it can be childish/frustrating at times, but it's nice to see how the button combinations match the action sequences on the screen. It can even be an exciting and fun experience. Simply, it works, and it works well. The controls of this game never gave me any trouble and were very easy to use.
One of the innovative features is that the state of mind actually has to be taken care of in Fahrenheit - a bar in the bottom left corner of the screen displays your Mental Health. The Mental Health of the characters can change depending on their actions, their moral choices and the relationships they have with other characters. If they get too depressed, the consequences can be disastrous and they might end up committing suicide and then it's Game Over.
Along the game, one can collect cards that contribute to Bonus Points. These bonus points can be used outside the game to unlock special features such as art galleries, soundtracks, mini-games and additional movies.
My only complaint is that the game is too short. The completion time is just over 10-12 hours, which makes for a very long movie or a relatively short game, but there is a saving grace. Because the game is freeform as much as it can be, the plot alters at certain decisions and you'll want to go back and check out different scenarios.
Overall, Fahrenheit is a great game, it's the fresh air that adventure gamers needed since Syberia was released. So if you haven't picked this game up yet, I would recommend it! I really hope for a follow-up to this game.
(US), Indigo Prophecy CDROM
Note: Unlike Fahrenheit, Indigo Prophecy (US version) is missing a
couple of scenes (sex scenes, of course) due to the fact that it would've gotten
an AO rating if it had included them.
System requirements: Processor: Pentium III 800 MHz or faster, 256MB
RAM, 32 MB Hardware T&L-compatible video card, compatible sound card, DVD-ROM
Drive, 4.0 GB free HDD space