I have very fond memories of Fahrenheit. Few games grab me in the way that it did, and I was hooked, despite only being in my mid-teens at the time. The mystery surrounding the main protagonist’s brutal act of murder, and fluctuating mental state, proved to be an incredibly effective way of telling the story. But let’s rewind for a second.
Fahrenheit was developed by Quantic Dream, who later went on to make the big hitters Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, amongst others. Each game of theirs centres around a strong narrative, usually told from the perspective of the main character, switching perspectives to the supporting cast on occasion. This is certainly the case in Fahrenheit.
You play as Lucas Kane, who murders a man in the bathroom of a diner whilst under some sort of hypnotic control. It falls to two detectives to crack the case, it being unlike any other they have worked on before. There are clear supernatural elements, but it’s ground in a gritty New York reality which gives everything a chillingly dark tone.
This is supported by Lucas’ deteriorating mental health as he tries to understand not only what he has done, but why. It is represented by a small stress level meter in the bottom corner of the screen. As you try to unravel the mystery of your actions, Lucas will inspect and discover a variety of clues, in “point and click” style. You will also have to perform certain actions as well as interact with other characters to discover the truth.
Choice is also a theme of Fahrenheit, resulting in three different possible endings to the game depending on the decisions you make. It all depends on Lucas’ state of mind and how you manage throughout the game. Not only this, but you’ll occasionally get to play as Lucas’ brother, Markus.
One of the reasons why I enjoyed Fahrenheit so much is because of the strong narrative which underpins the game. I’m a strong believer that elements such as cutting edge graphics can be partially sacrificed if the story is truly gripping and well-told. I was totally absorbed into the strange and yet dangerous world, finding myself genuinely caring about Lucas and his fate. Unfortunately the graphics weren’t the most impressive, however I could easily forgive that for the reasons above.
For me, at the time, I hadn’t played anything quite like Fahrenheit either. It was the first game for me which felt like an interactive TV drama. However, this was a genre that would continue to find continued success with titles such as Alan Wake, Until Dawn and Quantic Dream’s later releases.
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered was released over 10 years later, but sadly never made its way to the Xbox. This was a remake of the original, in HD, and includes the North American title, hence the elongated title.
The original was reviewed positively upon release, and for me it still holds up today. It’s well worth picking up if you happen across a copy. Amazon is probably your best bet.
Fahrenheit remains one of the finest early examples of how to bring a film or TV drama to the player, that doesn’t feel like you’re just playing a video game. The creative driving force behind it, David Cage, brought interactive storytelling to the forefront of gaming and showed just how well it could be done. I shouldn’t have to hypnotise you to make you realise, if you haven’t already, that you should go and play this game.