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Game Review

What would you do if you found yourself in a restaurant bathroom with a bloody knife in your hand and a dead body on the floor—and no memory of how you got there? That's the quandary that propels Indigo Prophecy, an investigative adventure game that plays like a mash-up of CSI and The X-Files.

Lucas Kane's pedestrian life is turned on its head the night he murders a stranger in the bathroom of Doc's Diner. He's clearly the author of the foul deed, but it's equally clear that he wasn't in control of his body or mind. His only option is to make a quick exit in the hope of discovering what really happened that night, and why.

Close on Lucas' heels are two veteran NYPD detectives, Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles, who are intent upon solving this brutal crime. With each new clue, Carla becomes more convinced that this was no random homicide. One by one, Lucas, Carla and Tyler uncover hints that the crime has a supernatural connection. Along the way, Lucas draws his reluctant brother, Markus, a priest, into this strange web. Together they intensify their search for the truth.

Video Game or Interactive Movie?
Indigo Prophecy continues a trend that blurs the experiential boundary between video games and movies. There's no shortage of action sequences that involve dodging assailants and projectiles, but most of Indigo Prophecy moves at the pace of intrigue, not bullets.

Solving the mystery requires playing all four major characters as they piece together what happened. In each scene, characters have the opportunity to interact with their environment as they look for clues. The game also demands fast decisions about what to ask other characters who might hold valuable information. A diminishing time bar lends a degree of urgency to the proceedings.

All in all, Indigo Prophecy often has more in common with the Choose Your Own Adventure kids' stories of the 1980s than its action-driven peers. As an alternative to today's more frenzied titles, Indigo Prophecy is a welcome change of pace.

An M-Rated Adventure
Unfortunately, the designers have aimed at an adult market by including content that would be at home in a suspense thriller (or most of today's crime-oriented TV dramas, for that matter). In the opening scene, Lucas repeatedly buries a knife in his victim's chest, then carves strange runes into his own arms. Such graphic violence only shows up in a couple levels, but the intensity of those images alone merits the M-rating.

Other M-style content includes a shot of Carla getting out of the shower; strategically placed steam shields players from frontal nudity. She then parades around her apartment in only a thong and a half T-shirt. Later, Carla and another character have sex in a boxcar, resulting in her pregnancy. The scene isn't explicit, but there's no question about what's happening. Occasional profanity ("s---," "h---," "d--n") also peppers the dialogue, and several scenes include drinking alcohol and mixing it with prescription medication.

As the game progresses, Lucas and Carla slowly realize that powerful mystics with a link to an ancient Mayan religion are manipulating people and events. These pagan religious elements combine with a mishmash of distorted Catholicism, hypnosis, the occult and tarot cards (which help unlock special features). Even an alien turns up, adding a decidedly sci-fi element to Indigo Prophecy's already distressing stew of spiritual syncretism.

A Flawed Novelty
Some games claim to deliver a cinematic experience. But few deliver as well on the storytelling side of that equation as effectively as Indigo Prophecy. It continues to push the narrative edge of what's possible in this medium, which is exactly what its creator, David Cage, intended: "Indigo Prophecy is my contribution to the transformation of video games into a true form of expression that conveys emotion. ... It shows how it's possible to create an interactive experience that is more than just killing monsters in corridors and shooting crates to find ammunition. ... It shows that it's also possible to tell a story and play a game without sacrificing either the interactivity or the narrative."

Cage is to be congratulated for crafting a game that offers more than just mindless destruction. Far less commendable, however, is his reliance upon violence, sexual imagery and occult ideas to tell his macabre tale.

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Xbox, PlayStation 2, PC




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Adam R. Holz Kevin Simpson

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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