You've just killed an innocent man in the bathroom of a crowded diner. Should you hide his body? Wipe up the blood? Or just take a leak? Options abound in Indigo Prophecy, the game that combines choose-your-own-adventure decision-making with the plot of a demonic psychological thriller. You alternately take on the roles of each of the game's main characters: Lucas, the unwilling murderer; Carla, the efficient detective; and Tyler, her laid-back partner. The majority of gameplay is dedicated to exploring areas, making conversation, and completing minor objectives, but almost everything is mutable. In dialogue, it's up to you what questions to ask, and how to deal with delicate situations: "Should I go to work, or have sex with my girlfriend?" Plus, you have almost total control over the characters' moves, right down to chugging milk from the carton.
Though in-game choices rarely impact the storyline, it's easy to get sucked in. All the characters are uniquely entertaining, and there are so many knickknacks to play with, it's impossible to get bored. For more action-packed scenes, the game resorts to a set of fast-paced controls, like "Simon Says" on speed. Some of these sequences, though fun, seem a bit silly. At its tensest moments, though, Indigo Prophecy can be downright unnerving. It calms things down with quirky interactivity, then promptly turns scary, with eerie music and drastic camera angles. Your health meter says it all: The best you can hope for is "neutral." Sink down to "wrecked," and you run the risk of committing suicide.
Beyond the gameplay: Indigo Prophecy gets it right by calling each game a "movie." Though the cinematics make for some melodrama, their approach is pretty avant-garde. Now if only their graphics could step out of the mid-'90s.
Worth playing for: The novel choices. Play the guitar, check your email, or purchase an awkward striptease.
Frustration sets in when: Your camera won't cooperate and you end up walking in circles. Sometimes it's more fun to sit back and watch someone else have a go.
Final judgment: Lots of games claim to offer "cinematic gameplay." Indigo Prophecy actually delivers. For $39.99, you can watch a movie and play it too.