Released in 2005 by Atari for the PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox, Fahrenheit1 is best described as an interactive film combining a paranormal storyline with original gameplay and decision-making processes. Written and directed by David Cage, founder of Quantic Dream, the game follows the misadventures of Lucas Kane, starting from the point at which he unwillingly murders a man in the toilets of a New York diner. The game's name comes from the way that the temperature plummets as the game progresses, with the chill being due to some unknown force.
Please note that this entry contains spoilers.
Fahrenheit follows the events in the days after the murder by allowing the player to take control of the four main characters, these being Lucas Kane, his brother Markus Kane, and the two police officers running the murder case, Tyler Miles and Carla Valenti. Although this would suggest that players are meant to play the characters off against each other to reach a certain result, the aim is in fact to satisfy the emotional needs of all four characters by making the correct decisions during the game. Decisions with negative consequences lead to a decrease in a character's happiness as shown by their mood meter, but these can be balanced by positive events so as to avoid driving the character to commit suicide or hand in their police badge.
The simplest part of the game consists of controlling a character and doing everything they would do in normal life, with simple things such as having something to drink or listening to some music leading to an increase in happiness. However, there is often a time pressure to complete all the necessary tasks before something else happens, and often the player will have to cover for earlier mistakes.
As well as simple actions, the player can also choose which replies to make when taking part in conversations. Most of these are unimportant and simply affect which parts of the story are revealed, but in some circumstances Lucas must make the correct replies to avoid triggering an increase in the suspicions of other characters, as shown by a handy suspicion meter. Other conversations allow the player to make important decisions which affect major events in the game.
As well as controlling the characters directly, the player must stay on their toes during action sequences which use a sort of 'dance-mat' control mechanism. Two coloured circles appear on the screen, indicating which of the eight direction controls must be pressed and in what order. In some sequences, failing to press the correct buttons will cause the character to make a mistake and lose a life, with the game ending once all lives have been used up. However, the control technique is also widely used throughout the game, with the player being rewarded with clues or information after successful attempts and punished with decreases in happiness after failed attempts.
Action sequences also include the rapid alternate pressing of two controls when the character must try their hardest to hang on to something or use every physical effort to succeed. These keyboard-breaking segments are sometimes very difficult, and often failure is not an option. Meanwhile, an alternative version is used when the player is forced to control Carla's breathing when she becomes terrified by small spaces and dark rooms, with the aim being not to let the marker stray too far to one side of the bar. These so-called 'track and field' events can be very frustrating at times, but also tend to make the game more rewarding as it is necessary to work to reveal the story.
Altogether, the interactivity makes the game a much more active experience than a film, although some say that this can reduce their enjoyment of the film-like parts of the game. However, this makes the game an ideal candidate for being played by one person and watched by others.
Graphics and Soundtrack
Fahrenheit tries hard to emulate real life, and so special effects only enter the game at certain points, with life otherwise being painted in an ordinary way. However, good use is made of the graphical capabilities of modern computers, with the characters and the world being rendered reasonably realistically. The soundtrack consists of both the noises created by the world in which the game is set, including music played by various devices, and a musical theme which often accompanies each of the main protagonists, indicating their character and style quite nicely. Music also accompanies important events and sets the mood in various places.
Bonus points can be gained throughout the game by picking up bonus point cards hidden around the levels, and are also awarded at the end of the game after the credits finish. Bonus points allow the player to unlock concept art, music from the soundtrack and short movies based on or about the game. Finishing the game also unlocks a series of action sequences, some from the game as well as some new added bonus ones.
The story begins when a seemingly-possessed Lucas Kane cuts symbols into his arms then murders a stranger in the toilets at Doc's Diner. He flees the area just before a policeman discovers the body, and Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles arrive shortly after to look at the crime scene. The next morning, Lucas wakes with a scream to find his arms are bloodied and that there are incriminating objects all over his flat.
Carla arrives at work the next day to find Tyler is late again. The action then switches to Tyler, who must upset his fiancée Sam once again by going to work where she thinks he might come to harm. While Carla and Tyler are continuing their investigation into the murder, Carla receives an unusual email from Kirsten, telling her that the circumstances of the murder are not new. Carla heads off to the claustrophobic basement to find the Kirsten file, while Tyler heads to a bookshop to ask about a book found at the crime scene. At the same time, Lucas meets his brother Markus, a priest, in a freezing cold park to ask for help. After Markus has agreed to help and left, Lucas notices a child falling into the frozen lake and rushes to help. One of the bystanders is the policeman from Doc's Diner, but the policeman shows compassion and fails to arrest Lucas.
Lucas decides to try to continue life as normal, but as he attends his job he is plagued by visions of surreal grey bugs. Returning home, Lucas takes a comfort break and then falls asleep, only to be woken by his ex-girlfriend Tiffany who has come to collect her belongings. The following morning, he meets with Markus to visit the grave of his parents, who died ten years ago in a car crash. Having heard more of Lucas's story about the murder, Markus refers him to Agatha, an aged psychic who may be able to help.
It's a Kind of Magic
Lucas visits Agatha's house, encountering a room full of caged birds and another containing a series of strange icons from ancient civilisations. He then discovers the blind, wheelchair-bound Agatha, who reveals that the double-headed snakes carved into his arms and the description of the murder all add up to something. Agatha holds a ritual to allow Lucas to delve into his unconscious memory, and he manages to recall the strange man responsible for controlling him. Agatha tells Lucas to return tomorrow to find out more.
When Lucas gets home, he lifts the phone to hear the voice of the strange man, and a tempest sweeps through his flat hurling objects at him. On returning to Agatha's house, Lucas finds that Agatha is dead and someone has called the police. He flees, but as he heads towards his house, Lucas has a vision of the mysterious man causing another murder, this time at a laundromat, followed by another image of the young girl.
Convinced they have found the killer, Carla and Tyler raid Lucas's flat to find it daubed with strange symbols. Simultaneously, Lucas arrives at the entrance to the building and is forced to evade the police, with Carla and Tyler arriving just in time to see him use superhuman abilities in his escape. Lucas wakes up in St Paul's church and sees Agatha, who tells him to look into a Mayan civilisation. Lucas is then attacked by apparitions derived from the stone angels in the church, but is woken from the hallucinations by Markus. While Carla and Tyler investigate the murder at the laundromat, Lucas recovers at Tiffany's house. The television there is set to a piece about a professor who studies the Mayan civilisation, and so Lucas heads off to meet him.
Pretending to be a journalist, Lucas meets the professor and discovers that he was merely being used as a tool by a Mayan Oracle, who then drags him into the Other World to kill him. However, Agatha appears and saves Lucas, telling him that The Oracle is searching for a young girl with a pure soul, known as the Indigo Child2, and must be stopped.
Lucas wakes up in a sleazy motel and, after phoning his brother and evading the police, he receives a phone call from the Oracle informing him that his Tiffany is hostage at the top of a disused rollercoaster. Rushing there, he reaches the top just as it collapses, and they both fall. Lucas enters a dream state where he recalls sneaking into a mysterious US Air Force hangar on the base where he lived. Although helped by Markus, only Lucas gets to see the inside of the hangar3.
Carla heads to the cemetery to meet Lucas next to Tiffany's grave, and Lucas explains his innocence to her, causing her to agree to help him. Dreaming, Lucas has a vision of the Indigo Child, revealing her location. He awakes screaming in Carla's flat. Returning to the police station, Carla sees Tyler talking to Sam, with the player having to decide whether Tyler should leave Sam or leave the police. By this point in the game, the world has become so cold that power and water supplies have failed and the world is falling into ruin.
The Indigo Child
Lucas rushes to find the Indigo Child before the Oracle can get to her, but is then forced to fight the Oracle, with both showing superhuman abilities in a protracted battle containing shades of The Matrix's Neo and Agent Smith. Lucas then escapes with the Child to a small room nearby where he finds Agatha but is then attacked by an AI4 soldier from a clan which opposes that of the Oracle. However, Lucas is rescued by Carla and a group of tramps calling themselves The Invisibles.
The Invisibles take Lucas to an underground base and explain that they are a secret organisation tasked with protecting the world. The Indigo Child is the only way to prevent the cold from killing mankind, and she must be taken to a source of 'Chroma' before it is too late. The tramps inform Lucas of a Chroma source in a US Air Force base, and so Lucas and Carla set off in a snowmobile as soon as possible. Reaching the hangar at the Air Force base, Lucas is confronted by both the Oracle and the AI soldier. Whoever wins will hear the Indigo Child's secret and control the fate of the world, and so the game has several different endings.
The American Version
Although Fahrenheit was released in the UK bearing a BBFC 15 rating, the US version entitled Indigo Prophecy5 was censored to remove all scenes of a sexual nature, with the game being released with an ESRB rating of 17+ Mature in the USA. A full uncensored version for the USA was later released under the title Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Director's Cut, being rated Adults Only by the ESRB.