Indigo Prophecy is perhaps the worst game I’ve ever played and I hate forever everyone who suggested that I should try it.
Eager as I am to expunge abomination of a game from my mind, I’m tempted to leave my review at that. But I’ll press on. For you. Indigo Prophecy takes your basic 3D adventure game as a starting point, so you’re interacting with items/people, navigating yourself through a story, and solving puzzles while playing three different characters.
Quantum Dream actually bolted on some interesting things onto this standard template, like a gauge of your mental health that’s analogous to hit points –goof up a little in your objectives and it declines, possibly to the point where you commit suicide. But finding something your character likes can boost it. That’s kind of cool, since it adds a bit of wiggle room to a genre that traditionally has a very binary right/wrong approach to progress. I also liked the occasional switch to split screen to show you other things in the area that you need to react to, like in the first scene of the game where a cop enjoying a cup of coffee at a diner gets up to head to the restroom where you’ve apparently just killed a guy and need to scramble to hide the body.
So those are a couple of neat things. But the rest of the game? It’s awful. To start, the main characters are either bland or so cliche it makes my teeth hurt. Tyler Miles, for example, is such an embarrassing stereotype of a funky young Black mo-fo that I had to conclude that the game takes place in an alternate timeline where the 1970s actually happen a few decades into the future. I know that’s absurd BUT IT’S THE ONLY POSSIBLE EXPLANATION, PEOPLE!
But that’s typical bad adventure game writing. The first of two real critical flaws in this game is the camera. I’ve never in my life encountered video game camera behaved more like it was strapped to a hyperactive cockatoo. The main problem is that the makers are so intent on using camera angles in a cinematic way that they often make them completely aggravating for use in a video game. Specifically, the point of view would swing and fly around erratically, taking me to wide, dramatic shots or framing shots that threw me completely off my rhythm and disoriented me. CONSTANTLY. If I have to fight with your game to play it, you fail.
The biggest flaw in Indigo Prophecy that led me to set the controller down and say “Nope, that’s it, DONE.” about 25% in was the quick-time event approach to “action.” Frequently as you play through you’d be warned by flashing text to “Get ready!” because a QTE sequence was about to jump in an punch your fun in the throat. In these you’re supposed to play a lightning quick sequence of “Simon says” type repetitions where you watch a pattern of lights on the screen and try to recreate that pattern by pressing on the left and right analog control sticks. So you see flashing lights for left/left, up/right, right/right, up/left and you have to press simultaneously on the sticks so you go left/left, up/right –OH NO, YOU’RE TOO SLOW AND YOU GOT EATEN BY SOME KIND OF F’ING GIANT FLEA! Mostly because the designers decided to make the on-screen indicators semi-transparent against a busy background. Because, you know, making something critical like that harder simply to see is more fun. I guess.
And you know, I’m not even going to talk about the insipid mechanic where you have to slap the crap out of the left trigger and right trigger in succession for like 30 seconds at a time. Because if I do I’ll have to go lie down for a while.
So, bottom line, Indigo Prophecy is TERRIBLE. The developers are currently hyping their next game, Heavy Rain, and a number of game critics are already gob slobbering about how OMG TOTALLY AWESOME it looks. You people. You’re welcome to your “QTE, The Game” product. I’ll be standing over here shaking my tiny fists and getting ready to laugh the first time someone compares it –unfavorably– to Dragon’s Lair.