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:
- Buy the game.
- Play until the scene when Lucas performs an over-the-top escape from the police.
- Stop playing.
- 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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