Noir: A Shadowy Thriller
Noir is not only the name of this game by Cyberdreams, but also the style. The year is 1940. Your friend Jack Slayton, a "dick" of the first class, has disappeared. Out of concern, you decide to take a look at his latest cases to see if any of them may give you a clue as to where he has gone. At first, the six cases appear to be as different as night and day. However, once you start delving into the dark secrets of these Los Angeles residents, the cases seem to take on some eerie connections. After all, a war is raging in Europe, and sympathizers for either side can be found in the most interesting of places.
Although the storyline captured my attention enough that I wanted to play the game, the interface in Noir is outdated and pales in comparison to games that use more modern technology. For the most part, Noir is played by clicking through still pictures with an occasional video thrown into the mix. One of the most frustrating and mind-numbing areas of this game involves the inventory control. Frustration sets in after an item has been picked up; from that point on, you no longer have control to manipulate these items or even to look at what you are carrying on demand. You are able to look up items in the desk journal, but who wants to trek back to the office just to know if you have something or not? Your mind is numbed on occasions when an item is needed and the game will automatically use the correct item from your inventory (assuming, of course, that you picked up the correct item somewhere) -- denying you the opportunity to choose what you think would be appropriate.
One redeeming feature was the taxicab; if I was unsure where to go, I was able to "hop in the cab" and it would take me some place where clues or an opportunity to interact with other characters were located. Overall, I would say that the gameplay was adequate, but not all that thought-provoking. I was left mostly with a dazed "click-and-look" feeling rather than a hearty mystery-solving attitude.
The graphics of Noir are well done in the sense that the detail given to the still shots appears well thought out and certainly seems to depict the time period quite well. However, when all is said and done, they are still only "still shots." The few video sequences are well-placed in respect to the action and seem to reflect the "noir" style of film, but in reality are little more than plot connectors. For instance, when I went down to the warehouse district, I stumbled into a place where I was obviously not welcome. One moment I'm clicking on a door in a still screen, the next there's a video playing where guys are chasing me with guns. Not exactly "interactive".
The music for Noir was one of its few redeeming qualities. It managed to make my heart leap with renewed enthusiasm when it was played. The music accompanied me on all my trips around town and also occurred at "special moments." Some characters were even treated to their own theme music that would play whenever something pertaining to them was found. Someone had a lot of fun planning the music, even adding a hearty "bum ba da dum" type of effect when certain significant items were located.
Noir has some of the best documentation that I have seen in a long time. The game comes with only one booklet, but that booklet contains sections on the cases you'll be covering, the players you will be coming in contact with and some history on the settings you will be visiting, as well as the typical setup and troubleshooting info. Included also is a short explanation of "film noir." The booklet was very helpful and obviously designed to give you a better feel for the game.
Windows: 486-66Mhz, Win 3.1 or greater, 8 MB RAM, SVGA video card@640x480, 10 MB hard drive space (minimum), sound card, 2X CD-ROM drive, Windows 95, mouse
Recommended Pentium, Windows 95, 16 MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM drive
Reviewed on: P-120, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, Diamond Stealth 64 video
Noir appears to be well researched and has some positive attributes. Unfortunately the interface technology used is about 5-6 years too old. In my opinion, Cyberdreams could have used a more modern interface and not lost the "feel" I believe they were striving for. Add this to my desire for more interactivity in the gameplay, and you come out with a score of 59.
Download Noir: A Shadowy Thriller
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP