Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered should win an award, not only for the obnoxiously long title but also for being quite possibly the laziest “remaster” I’ve had the privilege of experiencing in a while.
Fahrenheit comes to us from the crazy mind of David Cage, mostly known for Beyond: Two Souls (starring Juno) and Heavy Rain (starring nobody). Fahrenheit was the tipping point where he decided to solely focus on delivering a movie-like experience as opposed to heavier gameplay (seriously, Omikron: The Nomad Soul was the shit).
Fahrenheit is a game I recommend to everyone solely based on its narrative, but not because it’s some tour de force of emotion like Cage himself planned. There is a point in the game where the story jumps the shark so hard it leaves the stratosphere, going from a genuinely engrossing crime drama to a bonkers experience so quickly it’s hilariously jarring. There’s certainly a lot of foreshadowing before this event, but nothing prepares you for the complete table flip of logic. I’ve always held this title in the same regard as movies like Deadly Prey and The Room: something so unintentionally bad it becomes a masterpiece.
The game plays out like a Guy Ritchie movie: while the story is linear, there are multiple protagonists the player controls throughout the runtime, effectively giving four different points of view on the events unfolding. The game begins with Lucas, one of the protagonists, murdering a man in a bathroom with no recollection of why he’s committed such a violent act. In the very next scene you’re in the shoes of the detectives investigating the crime scene and ultimately hunting Lucas down. The characters are incredibly likeable and fleshed out rather well; each are diverse enough in personality to feel like you’re not playing as four of the same characters wandering around.
Fans of the pseudo-adventure genre popularized by Telltale Games will be at home here, but Fahrenheit does one better. Not only do dialogue choices affect how the game plays out, but actions the player inputs also greatly affect how things change for later scenes. The most robust example is the very first scene of the game, where the player must react to finding themselves standing over a dead body.
Hiding the body, mopping the blood and disposing of the murder weapon will make the next scene much harder for the player in the shoes of the detectives. Instead of having the next scene gift wrapped for you, you’ll have to hunt for the murder weapon (as it’s disposed off screen). So why not just make the detectives’ life as easy as possible to run through the game quicker and not get stuck? Well there’s one very clever mechanic that’s incorporated beautifully.
Characters have this ‘wellness gauge’ showing their psychological condition that fluctuates as the game progresses. You can improve your will to live by fiddling with the environment: hiding the body and the murder weapon will increase the killer’s disposition but make life more difficult for the detectives. It’s a really clever mechanic that at first seems pointless but is incorporated well to allow you to not make it too easy on yourself. In order to progress you’ll need to keep all characters in a good mood; if the gauge dips too low, there’s a chance that character will commit suicide. There’s a lot of silly ways you can trigger a game over, like taking painkillers with alcohol (After playing Max Payne 3 I just think they’re a lightweight) or failing one of the many reflex tests.
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered is essentially fragmented into 2 separate areas of mechanical input. There are walking talking interacting scenes that take up the majority of the runtime and then, every so often, these QTE segments pop up to provide some Simon Says excitement you can’t see since you’re focusing on the button prompts in the middle of the screen.
When playing the Steam version, a controller is almost a requirement. The PC and mouse controls remain unchanged from the original version with all of the problems the original brought with it: during reflex scenes, the player has to use the WASD and arrow keys simultaneously, tasking them with having to take their hand off the mouse to quickly get both on the keyboard. However, there’s always enough time to prepare for one of these segments thanks to a useful “get ready” prompt. It’s still not a perfect method though, and nothing’s been done to improve this cumbersome method of input with the remaster.
Conversation choices are clunky. Instead of just choosing one to four like an older Baldur’s Gate title or even having a wheel system like Bioware’s recent decline in choice, the player has to drag around this reticule in a circle to make their choice. Using the mouse, it’s an incredibly finicky system that’s only made worse by the decisions being timed in many cases. This is again something that really should have been looked at with this second chance for improvement.
Worst offender of all is the god awful camera system: quite a few games of this era had fundamental camera problems, and this is honestly the most glaring. The game’s camera will swing violently and it takes a great deal of getting used to. Thankfully there’s a little tutorial before the game begins, allowing you to get accustomed to it, but it’s far from being ideal.
Does the game still hold up today? Clunky controls aside, certainly. Titles like Fahrenheit and Shenmue essentially paved the way for Telltale to swoop in and have a runaway success with their own series. Fahrenheit is arguably one of the best “your choices and actions will affect the game’s progression” title ever released.
However, this remaster is unbelievably lackluster. There’s no extra features for returning fans other than resolution options and higher texture quality. Personally, I’d have preferred at least something extra to return to, such as a commentary track, since there’s little difference between the original and this “remastered version;” it’s still running on the same version of DirectX for God’s sake.
For returning fans, this barebones excuse of a remaster might put you off. However, if you’re a fan of these pseudo-adventure games, you owe it to yourself to experience this. A fantastic story that’s hilariously goofy but comes into a few roadblocks with some control issues: grab a controller and have a run through, it’s worth it on the cheap.