Indigo Prophecy:
Final Thoughts

By Shamus
on May 30, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

There are three main characters in the game: Lucas, Tyler, and Carla. All three take a shower at various points of the game. For the men we just see their feet as they step into the shower, then cut away. For Carla, we are treated to several slow camera pans around her. In the international version of the game I believe she’s naked, while in the American version she’s wearing a sort of flesh-toned bikini in the shower. So not only is there gratuitous nudity, but it’s covered up with nonsense.

Another major edit to the game in the American version is the removal of the sex scene between Lucas and his (ex) girlfriend. I’ve read that this is not just a cutscene. It’s integrated the way many minigames are in Indigo Prophesy, in that you participate via mouse-gestures which translate into… (ahem) thrusts. (I’m just going by what I’ve read in Gamefaqs. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.) This same game mechanic is used for manipulating items, opening doors, and climbing fences. I’m actually grateful my version doesn’t have this. I think it sounds more ridiculous than titillating. I don’t think of myself as a puritan, but I’m not sure I could participate in a scene like that, even for the sake of getting on with the game. It feels like something a fifteen year old would do while giggling, not a part of a grim psychological thriller. It would be like having the Team America puppet sex scene in the middle of Se7en. Again, I don’t have it in my version of the game, so maybe I’m misunderstanding what it’s really like.

In any event, I’m surprised the game has sections that are so clearly designed to pander to male gamers. There is deliberate female nudity, and the deliberate omission of male nudity. Then there is a sex scene enacted from the male point of view. I’ve never spent any time as a woman so I can’t say how a woman would react, but my gut tells me this would have a repellent effect on a female audience. It’s a shame because I think that otherwise this game would attract more females than your average point-n-shoot action game. There is a focus on what people are saying, thinking and feeling, along with a fairly strong female lead. I know it makes me a reprehensible sexist to suggest that men and women like different things, but I think that women would dig this game if not for the incongruous fan service. (And ignoring the second half of the game, of course. That part is bad for everyone.)

Still, I wholly endorse the first act of this game. If you see it in the bargain bin, I suggest you would be safe if you did the following:

  1. Buy the game.
  2. Play until the scene when Lucas performs an over-the-top escape from the police.
  3. Stop playing.
  4. Write your own ending, or perhaps leave the story as it is, forever a mystery. I had to come up with my own resolution for the story to get the thing out of my head. Doing so was almost as fun as the game itself. But maybe that’s just me.

The sad part about the second half of the game wasn’t just the story, it was the fact that they didn’t need it. The story took off and went sideways right about the time I was ready for it to start wrapping up. Given the replay potential, I’d be fine with this game clocking in at four hours. If they took all the budget for all those crazy scenes that rush by in a blur and spent those dollars on one or two more well-crafted locales like the diner, this game would have really worked for me.

Others have pointed out that no revelation could match the mystery of the first act, but I would have been satisfied with plain old, “strange cult uses psychic / hypnotic powers to incite murders”. The ingredients were there (the Tarot card-reading neighbor, the Catholic Priest, along with other quasi-occult elements) and all they needed to do was put them into play.

I praise Indigo Prophecy for truly innovative gameplay, solid voicework, stellar writing in the first act, a good hook, quality music which is wielded with skill, great character designs, and great visuals. There is a lot to like here, and I do not regret the hours spent on it.

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201030 comments. (A twenty-sided die has 30 edges.)

From the Archives:

  1. Patrick says:

    I completely agree with you. And yes, the sex stuff was jsut as pathetic as you describe. It was a total waste. You do completely accurately pinpoint the big turning point in the game, but I noticed that it got vastly less interactive aftre the first few scenes. Many fewer options and possibilities.

  2. JFargo says:

    The sex stuff makes me wonder if those giggling 16 year olds were part of the programming staff. I mean, while many of us males enjoy a little escapist fantasy, I wouldn’t be expecting it in a game like this, and I think it would totally throw me out of the mood to continue in this game.

  3. Melfina the Blue says:

    Well, I can say, as a woman, that I demand equal nudity or none at all. I’d vote for equal. One pan around of one of the men for one of the woman. And the option to skip either, so people who don’t want to see that sort of thing don’t have to.

    I haven’t played the game, so can say nothing about whether I’d be turned off by what you mention, Shamus.

  4. JKjoker says:

    Frankly, i don’t understand the obsession with sex (actually more like bouncy boobies and female ass shots during sex) in movies and games, if i wanted to watch porn i would buy porn, its extremely easy to get and you can usually get exactly what you want from it, when im playing a game or watching a movie i want to have fun, why would i want halfassed porn that usually comes in the most annoying moment and gets in the way ?

    maybe the developers love their characters so much they just have to write erotic fanfics of them ?, shrug.

  5. Benjamin O says:

    Well, thanks for the review, I now know one game I don’t need to buy, play or event think about playing. It’s stupid. This is about the dumbest decision. It doesn’t just alienate the women, because there are a lot of male gamers that are going to see that and just laugh.

    No thanks and no way.

  6. henebry says:

    As a man, I’d find it more titillating to play the sex scene from a woman’s perspective. I already know what sex is like from a man’s perspective.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I dont remember the tylers shower scene,but it was more than just his legs.And yes,we see his naked chest as well as carlas:)

    As for the sex game,it would work better if it was just a scene.But its not meaningless(at least not for me),as it is a likelly path that you can take at that point,and(like I said earlier)it is quite an emotional part of the game,no matter what you choose.Plus,the sex game is an optional path,and a hard one to get(because of the song you have to play before it).Personally,I like that we have showers and sex scenes in the game,since they add to realism(I hate games that are real,but you never see your characters wash,or eat),although making it into a minigame was dumb.

    Oh,and in that scene you see naked lucas,and even his butt.
    Link(contains sex): http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=A-D1lhdbYOM

  8. Poet says:

    Well, you’re forgetting the lesbian and bisexual women. They, I’m sure, would enjoy the sex scenes.
    Of cours,e the homosexual men probably ballance it out.

  9. Nihil says:

    As a man, I’d find it more titillating to play the sex scene from a woman’s perspective. I already know what sex is like from a man’s perspective.

    I suspect the target demographic doesn’t, though. ;)

  10. MissusJ says:

    Speaking from my womanly point of view, yeah, I’d be turned off (pun intended) by the circumstances Shamus describes. Though that sort of thing is rather common, so I’d probably just consider it par for the gaming course.

    Equal is better, especially as it’s my husband and I playing together on a console. :) I agree with Daemian Lucifer on how games were “real” but didn’t involve eating or bathing. (I’d include other bathroom trips and sleeping with that too.) Pity that equality existed outside of the US, (judging from the comments) but no here. And who decided that men couldn’t be shown naked, anyway??? Aren’t they the ones who get to take off shirts in public?? argh.

    We’re playing Dead Rising on Xbox360 right now, and while sleeping, eating and using the bathroom are addressed, it still isn’t overly realistic. At least you can go into the bathrooms, though. :)

  11. bargamer says:

    You’re a GM. OF COURSE you’d have fun coming up with your own endings. XD

  12. hotsauce says:

    Remember that comment where I disagreed with your mother’s use of the word “fixed”? I take it back.

  13. theonlymegumegu says:

    It seems to me that by making the sex scene interactive, it takes away from what would normally be a voyeuristic tittilation. I guess in some ways it’s just a natural extension of simulating anything else that we simulate in video games, but it definitely comes with a large dose of awkwardness. Hell, I think it would be *LESS* awkward to masturbate to watching the sex scenes then it would be to have to *INPUT COMMANDS* for performance O_o Besides, does the typical demographic *really* need the possibility for a video game to tell them they failed at sex if they perform the inputs incorrectly? As if self-esteem in that area weren’t low enough…

  14. Stu says:

    I feel bad typing this but it’s the first thing that entered my mind – I need to get it outta there:

    Unfulfilled Girl: That was terrible.

    Guy: I’m sorry, I pressed up-down-up-down-left-right-left-A-B-B-A-Start just like the game taught me.

  15. Kevin says:

    The guitar bit looked interesting.

  16. RedClyde says:

    I did basically what you said, though I think I didn’t get to that part. The last thing I remember was when he pulled a Neo in… his workplace, I think? I think that was what put me off. And really, after reading the post where you talked about the ending… I’m SO glad I stopped there.

  17. Jeff says:

    The stupidest thing about Hot Coffee is that it’s not even normally accessible.

    That kind of makes, to me, complaints invalid.

    If your kid went out of his way to unlock it… that means he’s looking for it. Which means, given, oh, TV like Showcase or the internet (is for porn)…

    In fact, it’s harder to unlock it then to search for porn.

    Once again, blame anything other than parents too lazy to do parenting…

  18. GAZZA says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but I want some YouTuber out there to splice the Team America puppet sex scene into Se7en. That would be awesome.

  19. Meta says:

    It says “Fahrenheit” on my box, and I didn’t get that minigame. According to Daemian Lucifer, that’s because it’s basically something to unlock. I’m a bit of a completinist and had been reasonably througough through most of the game, and I didn’t get it.

    So, I suppose kinda like the Hot Coffee mod, it’s really only something you get if you want to, which makes it a less silly addition.

    Still, I find the general nudity and fan service in this game weird. Not because I’m a gender equalist (I find saying there should be equal nudity for both genders to be as logical as having equal amounts of porn targetted at each gender), but because the graphics simply aren’t good enough to be erotic in any way. Mass Effect might have been able to pull it off, because of it’s higher visual quality, but blurry textures and jaggy boobies just aren’t hot at all.

    Considering the popularity of Tomb Raider, a series many years old, I’m probably alone in this.

  20. Craig says:

    Watching the video, the scene looked rather harmless, short, and fairly tasteful. Although I personally always gag a little bit when video games get sexual. I always remember halfway through a scene that these are polygons rubbing against each other. I can’t hold my suspension of disbelief, especially when its in a game that I do not expect or need sex to be in.

  21. Justin says:

    Maybe the real ending to IP was coded in just like Hot Coffee. You just need to hack the game to play it?

  22. John Alexander says:

    I usually don’t like gratuitous sex in games, and Fahrenheit is no exception. I wouldn’t have minded the sex-with-ex scene if I didn’t have to push the mouse in the same direction a metric ass-tonne of times for the repetition to end. It was really boring, and would have made a FAR better cutscene. The random Carla-nudity in the shower would have been much more interesting if it didn’t sit there and make you stare at her breasts for about five seconds before going on to the rest of the shower. It felt like fanservice, and BAD fanservice at that. I’d mention the zombie-sex, but that is part of the third act anyway, so it doesn’t really stand out as bad with all that crap it wallows in.

    Finally, I think the best sex-scene in the entire game was between Tyler and Sam, when Carla is trying to get him into work; you see nothing, and only hear the grunts as the camera bounces and funky music plays in the background. It’s comical AND intimate!

  23. ccesarano says:

    I’m mixed feeling on sexuality in games, to be honest. However, when developers try and turn it into a mini-game, well, they always fail and always will fail. Why? Because sex is basically real-life button mashing. You can’t make a good mini-game out of button mashing if it’s going to last longer than a few seconds (for example, Resident Evil 4, button mash A button for two or three seconds to escape from boulder…and then have a split second to press L and R to jump to the side, and probably die the first time…and then die the second time when it switches to pressing A and B together).

    In a lot of ways, it bothers me that game developers feel it is a requirement that each female has a huge rack and outfits showing it all off, though it isn’t really much different than mainstream comic books it turns out. What truly bothers me, however, is that female characters are always so poorly written. I can think of few games where I truly liked a game’s female character, especially if she’s supposed to be the heroine. For example, Kameo: Elements of Power. Great game, but Kameo herself is a cold rotten bitch with attitude. That’s not a likeable character!

    Someone mentioned Dead Rising earlier. While at first it seemed ridiculous to me that they made a character with such a huge chest with cleavage (what’s the point?), it bothered me less later in the game because the writers made her seem real. I also liked the fact that they gave her a rounder face instead of the typical Cover-Of-Cosmo structure.

    I think sex and shower scenes is more a minor point in the grand scheme of things. Again, comic books are filled with T&A, and video games are probably going to be as well. But can we at least get girls with real personalities instead of archetypes? Especially in this day and age where your average gamer HAS gotten laid, believe it or not, and the fat pimply geek with a mass of used tissues in the corner is an image long dead.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well,the females in fahrenheit are well written(until the ending,when every character is simply beyond horrible).

    There are examples of female characters being real(mostly in RPGs like baldurs gate and planescape:torment),but there are so few of those.

  25. Christian Groff says:

    So, basically, it’s half a bad game. That’s worse than a full bad game. In a full bad game, you know it’s gonna suck from the intro. Half a bad game is worse because they get your hopes up until the mid-point, then POP, you fall and die gorily. Ech.

    I’m not into thrillers with girls showering or sex scenes you can interact with(it reminds me too much of San Andreas’ hot coffee minigame which got Rockstar in deep doo-doo with the ESRB) – I’m not saying I’m a prude, I do like the occassional sex fantasy like all men, but fanservice is stupid and you should have the option to disable it.

  26. Alex says:

    I dunno, I played Indigo Prophecy a year or so ago, and I barely even remember the shower scenes. It really wasn’t that big of an interruption to the completely innovative and engaging game that was the first act. So if THAT’S the only thing stopping you from playing it, I’d say ignore the first three paragraphs of this post and read from that point on.

  27. Inwards says:

    Hated, hated, HATED this game. It’s probably because I’m an adventure game fan and I was expecting something along those lines. Instead I got Dragon’s Lair pretending to be the Davinci Code. To wit; “Hmm, how do I convince this police officer that nothing fishy’s going on? Oh, I know!”

    up-up-down-left-right-right-down-down…

    This maybe makes sense for action scenes but I would venture that it’s a poor proxy for puzzle solving. I’d make fun of the plot, except that I gave up on the game way too early to be fair.

    At any rate, if you’re looking to bone up on your Simon Says skills, this one’s for you. If you want a good adventure game, look elsewhere.

  28. Scholar88 says:

    (This was written after reading the other posts on Indigo Prophecy and much soulsearching, in a gloomy state of woe after repressing serious temptations of running screaming in the night).

    So, we basically have a game which has some very good ideas basically ruined by an asinine plot and gratuitous fan service aimed at young salivating boys. I am still wondering if David Cage was perchance possessed by the demon of extreme silliness at the time. Then again, maybe not. Sex sells and nudity has long ceased being a form of artistic expression.’Nuff said.

    What I expecially appreciate in this post is that a clear and strong position is taken here about the more-than-latent sexism in videogame culture. The list of offenders is pretty long, but there is an incident I wish to relate, since it is somehow linked with Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit in my little corner of universe) and the problem you address here.

    Background: last year, one of the premiere game magazines in my home country decides to publish a special issue dedicated to the fascinating subject of “sex” in videogames. The exact contents are marginally interesting to mention here: basically a heavy barrage of strip poker games, modifications for the Sims 2, hentai games, and so on (ah, all of them reviewed via a scale resembling a thermometer which was to suggest the level of excitation present in every game. So sad..).
    Interestingly enough, Indigo was featured in a text box with some lousy, blurred screenshots, relating some of the information you provide here. The sad thing is not that Fahrenheit was considered a proud member of the “sex in games” club: it was that the editors of the magazines really seemed to think that the sex scenes were a sign of Cage’s genius.

    Even sadder was the “Great Debate” the special issue raised in the forums of the magazine. Opinions were somehow polarized: some had appreciated the special issue, some had hated it. The only “trait de union” was that the level of the debate was somewhat depressing, with an overall flavor of toilet humor and raving idiocy. In a thread which spawned more than 20 pages, I think it was kind of depressing that only 1 person dared to suggest that such approach to videogaming was somewhat insulting to the female gender. Even more depressing was seeing one of the editors of the magazine basically ridiculing that person and relating, among other things, the old joke according to which hot chicks are brainless and ugly chicks are brains, probably a fond memory of his own nerd high school days. Then again, considering that the magazine in object has a special monthly box with photos of naked girls, probably it is not that surprising.

    Humiliating job being a woman, huh?

    Probably, the problem is not simply that game designers work aiming to pander to male gamers. Such an approach would be, at the very least insulting even to the intended target, if they cared.

    If they cared.

    I am beginning to suspecet that the real problem here is that male gamers probably want to be titillated just in that way. Otherwise, such features in games would have been long discarded. At least, the unfortunate incident I witnessed and related seems to suggest something along that line.

    Do I need to mention I have serious reservations about this game?

  29. Nerdsamwich says:

    I think that it’s not so much that this sort of thing is what the average male gamer want, but that it’s the sort of thing that corporate suits think the average male gamer wants. I’ve noticed that there seems to be a tendancy in corporate America to view the target demographic(whatever it may be)as a broadly-drawn caricature from the eighties, or mid-nineties if you’re of African descent. Since these executives have very little experience–none of it recent–with actual members of the public, they seem to think that real people are actually like that. It’s more of a commentary on what corporatism has done to entertainment than on the desires of the consumer.

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