McMillan’s Codex #9 By C.T. McMillan
David Cage: The Would-Be Spielberg, Part 1
Videogames take after movies for story and gameplay. Developer Hideo Kojima understands the need for a separation between the mediums and uses film for storytelling cutaways between gameplay.
David Cage of Quantic Dream, however, has sought to combine them. His three games are styled after the point-and-click genre where players navigate environments to initiate instances of action or conversation. Cage is so confident in his work he refers to them as movies, and wants them to be judged as such, and he is going to get his wish.
When I started writing online I began as a film critic. With 80+ reviews under my belt I will now treat Cage’s games as movies and review each one in a format similar to my critiques.
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Indigo Prophecy (2005)
After discovering a dead man at his feet and the murder weapon in his hand, Lucas goes into hiding to find out what happened to him. Homicide detective Carla conducts an investigation and finds there is more to this simple murder than she once thought.
IP’s first two scenes are quite good: being a murderer having to clean up evidence. Then the perspective shifts to Carla and you must solve your own crime before the story spirals into oblivion. An element of fantasy becomes apparent at the beginning because it is obvious Lucas was possessed and committed the murder without his control or knowing. That would be fine until aspects from other inspirations turn the whole affair into a mess. To make it easier to comprehend, I will go through the plot step-by-step.
After Lucas flees the crime scene he wakes up at home and has a vision of a cop at his door. A short time later the policeman arrives and knocks at the door. He demands to be answered, but the door is locked and Lucas cannot find the keys … while inside his own apartment. Apparently in this universe, doors lock both ways.
Later at his job, Lucas has a vision of his coworker Warren spilling coffee and also reads his mind. When he is called to fix a network error, he hallucinates giant green ticks that chase him around the office. He avoids them with acrobatics before the man he killed appears and the hallucinations end. The bugs show up one more time and are never explained.
After confessing the murder to his priest brother Markus, he gives Lucas the address of a psychic named Agatha. At her house, he shows her cuts on his arms in the shape of a snake with two heads. She is shocked and performs an séance where Lucas sees himself before the murder and the hooded man who possessed him. Agatha says she has nothing more to say when she obviously does.
Back at his apartment, Lucas receives a mysterious call before his apartment attacks him. Books, boxes, various items, and furniture hurl towards him. With nothing left, the apartment tears itself apart until Lucas falls through the floor and realizes he is hanging from his balcony.
He goes back to Agatha and finds her dead with the police on their way. When they close in, Lucas unlocks hidden Matrix powers and fights off the cops, sending them flying with Kung Fu and dodges bullets. He sprints into traffic, police helicopters above, and escapes by jumping onto a moving subway train.
On the run, Lucas goes to his brother’s church where the ghost of Agatha tells him the Mayan Oracle of Quechnitlan possessed his body to kill for reasons she leaves out, again. Then the statues of angels come alive and attack him, which turns out to be a hallucination. When he comes to, Markus advises Lucas to turn himself, but decides to find the Oracle.
Lucas goes to a museum to speak with an expert on Mayan culture and says a real oracle controlled him to commit a sacrifice. When the two leave through a parking garage, random cars try to kill them. Even though Lucas saves the day, the expert dies after saying the Oracle makes sacrifices to find the Indigo Child, a pure soul that has never been reincarnated.
In a dream sequence, Lucas is in a jungle confronted by the Oracle. He reveals Lucas was able to resist his control and have power because he possesses Chroma, which is never explained. It is also revealed the Oracle works for the Orange Clan, an illuminati cult. They want the Child to control the world, as it is consumed by a blizzard that was never brought up until now.
When Lucas wakes up, the Oracle has killed Markus and kidnapped his ex-girlfriend. He goes to an abandoned theme park where she is being held and dies trying to save her. In the following scene, however, Lucas is alive and meets Carla in a graveyard, where he convinces her to help fight the Orange Clan. Keep in mind she does not know a thing about any of the magic or sci-fi stuff.
The reason Carla believes him is why IP’s mess of a story works: consistency. For all its disparate elements Cage wanted to include because he never heard the phrase “Kill your darlings,” the actual narrative is not entirely affected by the lack of cohesion. The story adheres to a three-act structure with identifiable plot points. None of the characters have arcs and it makes liberal use of convenience, but on story alone it succeeds. The trick is to not think about it too hard. The sheer randomness is enough to deter most viewers unless you regard it in terms of a Sci-Fi Channel or Cannon Films movie, especially at the heel-turn into insanity:
After Lucas finds the Child at an orphanage, he has a Matrix fight with the Oracle on the roof. While fleeing from helicopters he hides in an abandoned building where the Agatha ghost is waiting. It turns out, she was an AI monster from outer space (insert Ultron reference here) that was guiding Lucas to acquire the Child to use against the Orange Clan and control the world. Also, the AI monster was also responsible for resurrecting Lucas and saving him a few times.
Disregarding the stupidity of it all, the actual plot kind of makes sense and follows a consistent structure. It is built on nonsense sure, but by the conclusion it all comes together in a complete form. Does that make Indigo Prophecy a good story? Absolutely not, but it is good in a schlock way. (Jeff Shuster might like it a lot.) It is worthy of good-bad status and a riot to behold with friends and recreational substances.