Fahrenheit, released as “Indigo Prophecy” in North America, is a lot like a pair of skinny jeans—not for everyone. Those who can deal with a few hiccups and bad fourth-quarter story twists, however, will wind up treasuring this game, because its virtues far outweigh its flaws.
Quick time events (QTEs) are an issue that divide the gaming community. On one hand, those who include them in their games are likely to suffer for the rest of their lives as a multitude of bitter gamers stab voodoo dolls fashioned in their likenesses in a fit of psychotic, nerdy rage. On the other hand, there are some gamers who are so jaded that they’ve given in and no longer care either way. Point is, no one actually likes QTEs, and with good reason. Good ones are a lot like talented pop stars—you often hear that they exist, but they’re so elusive that you’ve never actually seen one with your own eyes. As hard as it may be to believe, Fahrenheit is one of the few games that manages to pull off QTEs well.
It’s definitely a good thing, because a huge amount of gameplay consists of these QTE sequences. Several times throughout the game you’ll have two separate up/down/left/right displays come onto the screen (see the screenshots for some examples), and you’ll have to use two separate inputs to follow along with the displays. Most will find a controller with two joysticks most comfortable for these sections, though I can personally attest to a WASD/arrow key combination’s effectiveness. There are also endurance-focused QTEs that involve rapidly alternating between two keys (on pc) or trigger buttons (on a controller), as well as gesture-focused actions that allow you to ask specific questions/investigate certain objects depending on how you move the mouse/joystick. It’s an unusual setup, but you’ll quickly acclimate since it’s more intuitive than it sounds and everything is well-explained.
In most games, QTEs mean one input, repeated monotonously or thrown in at inconvenient times to trip up the player for whatever reason. Fahrenheit does things a bit differently, warning you before those sections appear. The vast majority of QTE sequences are the directional ones with the dual inputs, and it allows for a satisfying scaling of the difficulty; in the beginning of the game the directions you have to input will appear slowly, but as the difficulty ramps up, the speed not only increases, but the directions switch between the left and right inputs in such an unintuitive way that it’s mind-bending. It’s never so frustrating that it’ll cause you to hate the game for it, however. It’s difficult without being impossible or cheap, and the challenge comes gradually enough that you’ll never be unprepared for what comes next. Even better, the tension that later sections evoke is very real and complements each scene.
Because of the many QTEs, Fahrenheit feels like more of an interactive movie than an actual game, but I mean that in the best possible sense. Everything is cinematic, from the camera angles to the way the game plays out, and like a movie, it’s very linear. You’re afforded the opportunity to make smaller decisions, but they’ll all end up leading to the same string of events in the end (though there are three endings, two of which being “bad” endings). Such linearity often gives games the opportunity to heavily explore characters and themes without having to worry about a gamer missing something important, so linear games often have incredible stories. For five-sixths of the game, that’s true of Fahrenheit. An act of murder that one of the main characters commits in a trance leads him and two playable detectives on a quest to find the truth behind what happened. You’ll switch back and forth between the killer and the detectives who are trying to solve the crime of the murder, and for much of the game the whole thing is very convincing. It’s only near the very end that things go off the rails and turn the story into a parody of itself. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that it’s the kind of thing so ridiculous that some will have their enjoyment of the entire game up to that point completely destroyed. Not all, but some.
Graphics are what you’d expect from a 2005 game, far below current graphical standards but still realistic enough for individual characters to convey emotion. All of the locations are dark and moody, fitting the tone of the game perfectly. Music is tense and suits the game, and there are several licensed tracks interspersed throughout from musicians like Theory of a Deadman and Martina Topley-Bird that are hugely pleasant surprises. The only other flaw aside from the story going out of control toward the end is the length of Fahrenheit, which only racks up around 10 or so hours and could probably be even less than that for some. Still, for those who can ignore the short length and some stupidity in the end of the story, this game is pure gold.
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