Fahrenheit is the first game to come close to delivering on the concept of the "interactive movie". At its heart, it's an adventure game, but the twist is an innovative control method.
Rather than pointing and clicking objects to determine their importance, Fahrenheit requires keyboard and mouse skills to solve puzzles. Other action scenes are like a return to Dragon's Lair days of timed joystick movements, requiring some pretty quick reflexes.
One of the most interesting aspects of Fahrenheit is that you get to control all the central characters to the story, both good and bad, allowing you to gain an insight into their motives, the state of their personal lives and their innermost thoughts.
You even have control over their emotional states. Some of the game's best moments are when you play through scenes that you'd normally only see in TV dramas, and on this level the game can be quite interesting. It's a unique approach that certainly makes the story more engaging that your usual video game.
Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn't sustain itself over the entire experience. Interactions only become possible when the game allows them, so as a result, the game slowly starts to feel more and more restrictive as you realise that each "scene" consists of interactions that the game has plotted out for your character, amongst a bunch of pointless ones that are almost just there as a filler - such as being able to sit in chairs or open empty cupboards.
Exchanges of dialogue soon become the most interesting parts of the game, because you really feel like you're finally beginning to make real choices. At its worst, the game begins to feel like a series of cinematics that you can trigger piece by piece, as a result of making your character perform linear tasks, rather than any actual puzzle solving. In fact, many of the puzzles start to become pure trial and error exercises, or keyboard skill tests.
The most annoying thing about Fahrenheit is that it starts out so well. The first scene is one of the best in the whole game, with lots of non-linear interaction and clue sniffing that actually impacts on the story. But this is more of an exception than the rule. By the end of the game, you're not doing much more than performing frustrating keyboard pummelling, or directing your character around the room until you find the thing you can interact with that actually propels the game along to the next scene.
It must be said that Fahrenheit's story also goes completely off the rails into territory so fantastical that it just becomes laughable. It tries to be as deep as the Matrix, but ends up so nonsensical that it's just silly.
What began as a clever, innovative detective story with strong interaction becomes a bit of a fantasy farce with very little meaningful gameplay.
Click here to view screenshot 1, and Click here to view a screenshot 2.
Visuals: Often-arresting imagery and detailed environments.
Audio: Excellent voice acting.
Gameplay: Initially very promising, but ultimately ends up repetitive and frustrating.
Developer: Quantic Dream