The opening immediately grabs your attention
Controls work most of the time
HD graphics are much improved
One dimensional characters
Jumps the shark during the second half
Unnecessary sex stuff
Smart phones are a wonderful thing, aren’t they? You can text your friends, check your social media, browse the internet, and as of recently, play HD releases of games you may have missed. One such example is Fahrenheit, which I never had the opportunity to play when it was originally released. As far as I’m aware, Fahrenheit was pretty revolutionary when it was first released. It was one of the first narrative driven games where decisions can (and will) affect your actions. Since its release though, Quantic Dream has vastly improved that original formula in their newer games, and Telltale also created similar games that have gone on to earn critical acclaim. So the question remains, does Fahrenheit hold up? Well, that’s a more complicated question than it should be.
Before delving into the game itself, it’s important to talk about how the game has changed since its original release (from my understanding). Graphically, the game does look quite a bit better. The textures are greatly improved and the character models aren’t nearly as (for lack of a better word) jagged. The game allows you to switch between HD and SD to see the graphical leap for yourself. As for the controls, well, they get the job done. I played the game on my iPhone 5s. When given the option with iOS games, the iPad is almost always the better choice. Sadly, I don’t have an iPad, so I had to make do with what I had. So yes, the controls work fine on a phone. They’re occasionally clunky, and some of the quick time events feel awkward, but they work well enough. I imagine they’d work better on a bigger screen, but I can’t totally rip on this game for its controls. I’ve come to expect what was given to me. The game’s controls aren’t anything unusual in comparison to other mobile games. You have the virtual analog stick on the left, and you can press anywhere on the screen to control the camera. In other words, if you’ve played a “hardcore” game on your mobile device, you shouldn’t be too surprised.
The game is also the unedited version of Fahrenheit that got slapped with an AO ESRB rating when it was first released because of the nudity. Apparently the ESRB is getting more lenient because this is the same unedited version that was released in 2005 and it slid by with an M rating. The problem is, the nude scenes and additional content do very little to strengthen the story. I’m not entirely sure what was cut from the original game, but I have my suspicions, and none of these additions seem at all necessary to strengthen the game. In other words, if you’ve already played the original game and want to experience it in its original form for the first time, don’t bother.
Now, onto the game itself. As I said earlier, the gameplay is sort of a prototype for future narrative-driven adventure games. In other words, it’s less about puzzle solving and more about the narrative. If you’ve played Quantic Dream’s other games, or you’ve played any of Telltale’s games since The Walking Dead, you shouldn’t be too surprised. There is a bit more exploring than I was used to in comparison to Telltale’s games, but in general, it’s the same idea. You converse with characters and when the action picks up, you participate in QTEs. The main difference between this and something like The Walking Dead is the sanity meter. Your actions will affect how your character is feeling, If something bad happens, your character will lose sanity and move from “neutral” to “stressed.” If something good happens, vice-versa. If your character’s sanity drops too low, it’s game over. It’s an interesting mechanic, but I never saw it as much of a challenge. If you do a fair amount of exploring, you’ll find the things to cheer your character up and keep you from losing. Other mechanics also prove to be less-than-stellar. Unfortunately, as this is somewhat of a prototype for future graphic adventure games, the gameplay doesn’t seem nearly as polished as what you’d come to expect. After going from Life is Strange to this game, I was begging for characters that control better and dialog options that actually explain what you’re going to say, since the dialog options in Fahrenheit are often very vague. They often just list emotions (i.e. sympathy, anger, etc) and expect you to know how that will turn out.
I’ve already talked about the graphics since that fits into the “HD update” portion of the thing, but I haven’t gotten to the sound. The music in Fahrenheit is solid. It’s not stellar by any means, but it feels like a lot of effort was put into scoring the game. The voice acting is hit and miss, and that turns out to be a big problem for a game like this. If you’re going to make a game that relies so much on dialog, you should make it to where the people performing said dialog don’t sound like robots. For example, one of the major playable characters, Tyler Miles, sounds ridiculously amateurish. It almost (not quite) reminded me of voice acting from the original Resident Evil. It doesn’t help that some of the things being said are absolutely ridiculous. Some of the dialog is laughably bad.
The story itself (aka the most important part of this type of game) is hit and miss. In general, the first half of the game is a hit. It succeeds when it comes to grabbing the player’s attention and forcing them to ask questions. The more that is revealed, the more the story goes downhill. I can’t reveal anything, but know that things keep getting more and more ridiculous to the point where you’ll wonder if David Cage is pulling a devious prank on you. Sadly, he’s not.To have an interesting story, you generally have to have interesting characters, and that’s another thing Fahrenheit is lacking. The characters are all very static and lacking in unique characteristics. Nothing pops out about them, and by the time the credits roll, you’ll likely forget all of their names.
In the end, Fahrenheit has one annoying problem: it gets worse the more you play. There are a lot of things in the game that work, but the more time you spend with it the more the flaws become apparent. The characters never grow, the story goes downhill, and the gameplay doesn’t introduce enough new ideas to keep the play invested. I commend Aspyr for making a capable handheld version of the game, but the game itself is simply not up to snuff.