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Friday, March 17, 2006

Indigo Prophecy

Gamefly has finally managed to deliver a couple of games. Electroplankton I haven't really played with, but I'm likely to just buy it and keep it around as a music toy anyway.

The other was Indigo Prophecy, which sucked up most of the night. It's definately an interesting twist on the adventure game genre. It's nice to see someone take the genre seriously with adult concepts ( even if a few naughty bits had to be censored for us American prudes ).

The big bad would definately be the controls. There's no way to put it gently - the controls suck harder than an industrial Hoover. During the "save the whiny kids" scene I couldn't manage a straight line to save my life. Walking can be bad enough when you have control over the camera ... and at times when you don't it can be a nightmare.

So it's not a surprise that the game is at it's best when you aren't controlling the character directly. During conversations and the "simon says" style mini-games, the controls work quite well to accompany the story. And the story, a combination of urban horror and crime drama ... is pretty good. Characters are well done and the plot is pretty engaging.

Since I'm working on interactive fiction, I can't help but wonder how the interactive parts play out. Is the game worth a replay to see what happens if you properly mack with your ex? Or don't invite her over at all? I get the impression that these represent tiny adjustments to the storyline rather than full tangents and that if there are any alternative endings, they're of the "whoops, you're dead" variety. It's odd that the game is still, in some ways, a grown up version of Dragon's Lair. Follow the glowy parts quickly enough and you advance ... otherwise you're bones.

That might seem harsh, but I'm just looking at an overall framework here. And I don't even think there's nothing terribly wrong with that. I do think that a lot of interactive stories miss out on truly flexible narratives. The pitfall of making all the alternative endings into mousetraps is an easy one (although, come to think of it ... ironically .... since I'm working with a horror short ... all my endings are pretty nasty as well).

Anyway, an interesting game. I'd love to see a version done with next-gen and more photorealistic graphics since I think this is a genre which, with this format, gets a lift with more convincing environments. And for the love of Jeebus, fix the controls.

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