Eurogamer: Fahrenheit Retrospective

By John Walker on May 31st, 2010 at 11:20 am.

He just wants a cuddle.

It seems like only yesterday that my retrospective of bonkers genre-blurred Fahrenheit appeared on Eurogamer. A ha, my little joke there. It was yesterday! It’s a Bank Holiday, my brain is on holiday. I replayed the game five years on to see, well, all sorts. Any of the ideas hold up? Anything been picked up by others? Still as completely trousers-down, purple-hatted batshit insane? Well, of course. The intro:

Here’s my impression of David Cage brainstorming ideas before making a game:

“Okay, it shall be set in a regular city, slightly in the future. Our character must get through his day, while becoming embroiled in a strange mystery. A peculiar girl is stuck in a tornado, and the player must rescue her before all the water in the world turns to stone. Aliens attack. At the end it rains cars.”

While Heavy Rain stayed in reality, Omikron and Fahrenheit begin with a facsimile of a recognisable life, and then dive headfirst into a swimming pool of insane.

Read on here.

, , .

32 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Ian says:

    Ah, Fahrenheit. You crazy, crazy thing.

  2. HidesHisEyes says:

    Loving the Psychoville reference too!

  3. Risingson says:

    Ah Fahrenheit. You crappy crappy thing (after a brilliant prologue, that is).

  4. Wulf says:

    There’s a tragedy about Quantic Dream.

    They started out making games about impossible worlds, like Nomad Soul, and they actually did this pretty well. They could have built a future around this, but they decided it was too fantastic for them.

    So then they started working on Fahrenheit, but that ended up going absolutely batshit bonkers, and most people with a sense of humour and a love of B-movies really enjoyed that, because it was so absurd and it lifted the game out of mundanity. It was a sparkling gem because it ended up so eccentric.

    After that, Quantic Dream decided that the PC was a bad platform and that their previous games were for kids, so they started talking big talk about wanting to make serious business games for adults, the first of which being Heavy Rain for the Playstation 3. This would supposedly be their magnum opus, their crowning achievement.

    Having played Heavy Rain… it’s deliberately dull and boring, but the worst part is that the plot errors that Quantic Dream are known for are far less excusable, because the game no longer represents something imaginative, these issues become glaring, massive, and unavoidable.

    [Spoilers follow.]

    An example of broken Quantic Dream tale-weaving is having the player play the murderer. There’s nothing wrong with this, but in the murderer’s head, he sympathises with the relatives of his victims, a huge deal. That’s a very intellectually dishonest thing to do, because it’s trying to trick people and make them believe it’s a brilliant plot twist when really… it isn’t. And generally I can’t imagine a murderer having sympathy for his victims inside his own head. He’d have sympathy openly, yes, but inside his head he’d be mocking them.

    [Spoilers end.]

    The end result is that Heavy Rain embodied everything that makes Quantic Dream plots utter nonsense. Sometimes, utter nonsense plots are okay, sometimes they’re even really fun, except that in their ongoing efforts to make a game for grown-ups, Quantic Dream sucked all the life and personality out of their game. Playing Heavy Rain was a genuinely depressing experience for me.

    I think Quantic Dream should forget their new direction and make Nomad Soul 2, they should go back to what they’re good at. Instead, their next game is probably going to be about an accountant that ends up with a God complex, a story that’ll try to be a thrilling psychological thriller but will fail because it’ll end up far more simple and with too many plot holes to make the story work.

    Please learn from past mistakes, Cage. Please.

  5. Katsumoto says:

    I absolutely loved Fahrenheit. And I also absolutely loved Heavy Rain. I’m easily pleased, mind you.

    I wish HR had came out for PC, i’d have loved to have read a Walker review of it.

  6. Ian says:

    While obviously with Fahrenheit’s story it’d have been quite different (had it stuck to it), I did like Call of Juarez’s thing of playing both as the hunter and the hunted. Sneaking through levels as Billy Candle and just trying not to get dead, and then romping through the same levels as Reverand Ray, crashing straight through a number of the guys you’d just been terrified of as Billy.

  7. jsdn says:

    Fahrenheit: an awesome game where the plot gets consistently worse as it continues. It’s like the people responsible for the plot started out as very experienced top-selling writers that continually regressed their talent until the very end, where it can then be barely considered a rough draft fan fiction written by a fifteen year-old.

  8. Risingson says:

    But people, the problem with fahrenheit is not the plot, but the gameplay. The action events in there are the worse integration of game design ever experienced in a videogame: it was boring, it repeated itself too much, and it distracted from the story. Fahrenheit, from a point in the game, was like a rail shooter done wrong.

    • Don says:

      Amen to that. I knew from the reviews something of what to expect, and I got Fahrenheit cheap so can’t complain, but I never finished it purely because of the QTE’s. They might make sense for consoles (I can’t judge because I don’t own one) but for PC’s they totally sucked.

    • jsdn says:

      I liked the gameplay. It gave you the ability to do (or at least made you feel you were doing it) the crazy stuff you usually only see in disjointed cinematics. Whenever you failed the Double Simon in an intense sequence, you would see yourself get hurt. Or maybe you’d miss your chance at getting laid. I think there were only about 5 of those sequences, and the meat of the gameplay was making choices under pressure. There were a lot of interesting choices that slightly affected the story.
      Anyway, since the game was essentially a “choose your own QTE adventure” the plot was very important. If the plot falls part, the game falls apart. It did.

    • Richard Clayton says:

      The QTE were absolute emmersion breakers for me and made no sense in the context of the game. They are lazy, lazy, crappy devices that should never appear in anything that isn’t a “brain trainer” (or a “patience exhauster”).

      I liked what Fahrenheit was trying to do but hated the execution of these timed sections. I got about 2/3 of the way through and then never picked it up again (sold it on play.com in the end: no regrets!)

  9. airtekh says:

    let’s ask the obvious question yet again: why was the game name changed for the country that still uses Fahrenheit as its measure of temperature?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do remember reading somewhere that they changed the name to ‘Indigo Prophecy’ to avoid confusion with the Michael Moore film ‘Farenheit 9/11′.

  10. Mathemazilla says:

    Hated the QTE stuff, all of it.

    Also was disappointed that after having read an interview with that Cage fellow about how this wasn’t just an interactive movie, the opening menu presented me with the option of not “new game”, but “new movie” or somesuch.

    It’s not a bad game I guess, but just another overly ambitious game that couldn’t live up to the hype.

  11. robrob says:

    That’s why they call him Mister Fahrenheit.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Ah, Fahreheit.

    I enjoyed it (I wasn’t sick to death of quick time events at that stage) feeling it’s descent into lunacy was a somewhat sad waste of potential but at the same time utterly somewhat hilarious. The only bits that really rankled were the rubbish stealth missions and the 3 month jump in the narrative towards the end (would have been utterly unforgivable if the narrative hadn’t already gone out of the window and ran cackling down the street with its underpants on its head declaring that it was a gigantic space walrus).

    I would have liked to play Heavy Rain but from what I’ve heard from people who have played it I think it would only have disappointed me.

  13. Vadermath says:

    Awww, I feel sad every time I think about this game. When I consider it, I divide it into to halves; the first one, which was utter awesomeness in both story and execution (the first level in the diner was especially a gem), and the second one, which was completely ruined in both aspects. A 7-minute long quicktime event is as boring as it is unneeded, and a story that went from mystery to fantasy, then ridiculousness, then all the way to downright lunacy.

    Self-aware AIs comprised out of pure energy? For fuck’s sake!

    • Wulf says:

      I thought it was a powerful extra-dimensional entity that found its sense of identity via the Internet and thus understandably came to despise all of humanity based upon that. That wouldn’t have been at all bizarre if the story of Fahrenheit were taking place in a comic book.

  14. Cinnamon says:

    In my mind the kiddie gear solid, simon says action scenes and internet trying to rule world parts are the memorable parts. Not greatest game ever material but not boring and stupid. The spooky spiritualism and drama parts are the things that I find to be lacking. The cafe scene in particular was packed full of promise but eventually delivered on nothing. In the end it turned out to be a case of being able to do micro mini games to do certain small tasks, or not, nothing really matters.

    I tried to replay the game a while ago and it does not bear up to replay at all. The game parts are few and far between and as a “cinematic experience” this is no Big Lebowski that I could watch on DVD every couple of years.

  15. Dawngreeter says:

    Fahrenheit fan here, crazy second half of the plot and all. Sure, it could have been an awesome mundane or low-key supernatural story. But that’s not what it is, so it’s kinda silly holding it up to a standard of what might want it to be. Taken on its own terms, Fahrenheit gave seemed to me to present a story which revels in the absurdity of its plot conclusion. What if Hamlet turned out to be abducted by aliens, forgot about it, and ends up confronting his uncle who is really an alien-robot hybrid imposter sent down to keep tabs and report on Hamlet’s post-abduction condition which just so happens to drive him crazy? That’s awesomeness right there. And it takes skill and dedication to handle a story like that without devolving into camp.

  16. Zwebbie says:

    It’s a very interesting game. Worth playing just to see its legendary, spectacular downhill slope, and also worth playing for the first part. It also made me much better at quick time events; I struggled with them initially, but by the end of the game I couldn’t miss anything.

    Concerning the QTE’s, I think they were, at times, actually used for the power of good. Notably, the recollection vision scene at Agatha’s. Lucas is having to focus his thoughts to be able to keep the vision up; at the same time, I’m focusing on the QTE’s to keep the scene going. If you think games have to be fun, then they’re indeed quite lousy, but as a representation of the events in the game, it isn’t always terrible.
    The composition sketch you make as the waitress is great in that regard too; the game’s ludic elements are exactly in line with the actions performed by the characters.

  17. DrGonzo says:

    Fahrenheit is the most hilariously bad game I have had the pleasure of playing.

  18. Anthony says:

    One of the all-time great batshit crazy endings to a game.

  19. PWaN says:

    Excellent. This gives me the excuse to link to .

  20. PWaN says:

    Doh! Oh well so much for my html knowledge.
    http://orsomething.co.uk/118/fahrenheit-lost/

  21. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Farenheit gets an extra 20% for having the full version of Teddy Pendergrass’s Love TKO in it. That makes it a 90% game.

    I look back fondly on it like I do with other flawed gems – Vampire: bloodlines etc

  22. ExplosiveCoot says:

    If only the story didn’t go completely off the rails in the second half of the game, it would’ve been one of my all-time favorites. To this day, Fahrenheit remains the only game I’ve purchased and then played through to completion in one sitting, so powerful was the opening.

    Hopefully Heavy Rain makes its way to the PC at some point.

  23. PHeMoX says:

    Omikron!!!!!!!

    Now THAT makes me want a sequel. It’s perhaps still one of the most impressive sci-fi environments.

    In the same league as Outcast was. Or the first Halo. For some reason it just sticks.

  24. Frosty says:

    I think the point when I finally gave up on Fahrenheit is when the cop sleeps with what is technically a dead dude.

    So wrong.

    • Wulf says:

      Question is: How do you define death?

      He still had his dreams, he seemed passionate, he cared about the world, all of his emotions were intact, and aside from some base physical abnormalities he was the same as every other living creature.

      Seemed alive enough to me.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Wulf: his breath didn’t show up in the cold, so he must have been as cold as a corpse as well. And she sleeps with him!

    • Frosty says:

      @Wulf

      It was more the physical act that got me. If he did not breathe anymore then did his heart pump? If his heart did not pump then would blood flow? If blood did not flow then…would his…y’know…bits and pieces work?

  25. Risingson says:

    “. Lucas is having to focus his thoughts to be able to keep the vision up; at the same time, I’m focusing on the QTE’s to keep the scene going. If you think games have to be fun, then they’re indeed quite lousy, but as a representation of the events in the game, it isn’t always terrible.”

    No, no, and no again: the QTE are always badly integrated because they distract you from the story. It’s like QTE being one thing and the campy story another totally unrelated stuff. And no, playing Simon Says is NOT FUN in an adventure game, like putting a slider puzzle or a maze is always a con.

    It’s like integrating the old, dated, awful Decathlon mechanism for playing: one key for the left foot, other for the right foot, and tap them repeatedly. Bad design decisions, obviously bad design that clashes horribly with the great graphics in a game that feels from 1985 and was made in the 21st century.