Indigo Prophecy

I've been spending the past couple of days playing Indigo Prophecy on Xbox and have to say that it's something everyone with a modicum of an attention span should play. The game best falls into the adventure genre, and is not terribly unlike Syberia, but also contains a blend of action that borrows heavily from Shenmue, my personal favorite game series. Action isn't done through jumping and fighting, but rather through a series of choreographed quick timer events, to borrow Shenmue's vernacular. At key points in the game a simple simon-sez like display appears and players match the colors by moving the Thumbsticks in the corresponding direction. Success and failure are then displayed via the game's pre-rendered cutscenes. The action also occasionally requires the player to alternately tap the Left and Right Triggers in a frantic manner, but fortunately this isn't terribly common.

But the real star of the game is the story. The game begins with the player viewing a murder in the bathroom of a diner. You are thrust into the role of the killer and must immediately set about covering your tracks and escaping without being apprehended. Your decisions made in these opening moments will dictate later on how likely you are to be caught. And herein lies the catch. You will also play as the two detectives investigating the murder. You can play hard and truthful as all three characters or you can play poorly as one or the other to see to it that the killer is either caught or free.

It's not just a simple murder mystery, however. The game borrows heavily from movies like The Matrix and Silence of the Lambs, among others, and to be certain the story gets pretty deep. A bit convuluted and rushed at times, but deep nonetheless.

One of the interesting aspects of the game is that during dialogue scenes, you only have a couple of seconds to select the direction you'd like to take the conversation (or how you'd like to reply). Not only does this feel more real, as opposed to lazily delving through an entire dialogue tree as in most games, but you can ensure yourself different conversations each time you play. Theoretically.

As engrossing as it is, Indigo Prophecy isn't without its flaws. For starters, the camera and movement control is horrible. So horrible it reminds me of the original Resident Evil games. Although a flick of the Right Trigger will rotate the camera, it's not uncommon to have a large object (such as a beam or wall) obscuring your view of the player. This, compounded with the extremely stiff controls and occasional time limits can make for a frustrating experience. Fortunately, it's not terribly common and the game's merits are enough to overlook the occasional frustration. But players may have a harder time overlooking the overly generic, stereotypical characters. In addition to the overly featureless, loner, IT guy, murderer, you have a pair of detectives who seem to have been ripped straight from the set of Starsky & Hutch, police chief included. The only difference being that one detective is female (obligatory enormo-boobs present and accounted for) and the other is a black guy who, for some reason, is accompanied by porno-esque funk music wherever he goes.

But as odd a mix of seriousness and silliness as the game is, it's still worthwhile to play. The only serious complaint I have about the game is that it's only 8 or so hours long. And while the game's makers will lead you to believe you can play over and over and get different stories, this isn't entirely true. There's only really one way to get the best ending and once you've done that, you're pretty much done. Sure, you can play again and maybe direct some conversations a bit differently, but nothing that is worth ignoring other games for.

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