Genre:   Adventure

Developer:  Mad Orange

Publisher:  Phoenix Online Studios

Released:  July 2013

PC Requirements: 

  • OS : Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7

  • CPU: 2 GHz

  • RAM: 1 GB

  • Video Card: 128 MB

  • HDD: 2 GB

  • DirectX: 9.0c

Additional screenshots   Walkthrough





by flotsam


Face Noir

Think of noir and it brings to mind grungy, cynical and blonde (the platinum type). Sultry too - the blonde and the mood Ė languid and slow burning.

He is Marlowe or Spade, or in this case Jack del Nero, and there is a bar and a dame a drink too many. Plus a body, and some low rent investigating of who is kissing who.

The feel and the sound is noir, chiaroscuro prominent, drenched in a jazzy, smoky soundtrack. It meanders along, never breaking into a sweat (or a run), ambling towards an abrupt not finished end.

There are clues, and here and there you enter the deduction screen, where you cogitate on piecing together the snippets of what you know. Itís a nice variant on a dialogue tree, and a little bit like detecting, so kudos for that aspect.

The puzzling and associated interactions are a little hit and miss. In some ways its rather straightforward -  thinking out loud helps with what to do next, the lock picking minigames can be skipped, hotspots can all be shown. However some of the interactions are a tad too intricate or fussy for their own good, hotspots can be hard to find in the rather gloomy settings (so you will probably need to reveal them whether you want to or not) and a missed clue can lead to a lot of backtracking. There are also some timing type puzzles that will likely irritate, if not frustrate, some players.  

While its fairly typical adventure gaming fare, I did think a hard-nosed world weary PI would have a better grasp of things (eg the combination to his gun box), and to me there needed to be a better balance between sleuthing and fiddling about. The minutia tended to outweigh being a detective, and I just thought it effected the vibe of the thing.

It isnít though a terribly hard game, and therefore you donít get too bogged down as you inexorably unravel the goings-on.

Actually, you kinda know whatís going on given an early flashback, or at least what will go on. Armed with that foresight, itís more a question of what went on.

Itís a sum of the parts sort of thing, and while it isnít flashy or genre breaking, it does what it does, in the context it sets for itself, pretty well.

Except for the voice acting.

Jack is not too bad, but most everyone else is either uninterested, unrealistic or horribly stereotyped. The less said about the Chinese cab driver the better.

I also never have warmed to the supposedly realistic ďlets open the draw by clicking, holding, and pulling the mouse backwardsĒ approach to game interactions and it didnít (warming that is) happen here.

I did like the comic book style cells used to produce a cutscene, and while the muted colour pallet is in keeping with a low rent PI, it is a little drab. It might not have seemed so if there had been a little more animated realism in the character modelling, but it does leave a little to be desired.

Yet whatever its plusses and minuses, I quite enjoyed Face Noir. Unlike my eggs, I am partial to hard boiled crime, and writers like Stuart Kaminsky, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Lawrence Block all have their products on my bookshelf. So while this isnít in their league, the writing is not at all bad, and wrapped in an adventure skin there are lots worse ways to spend a few weekends.

Grade: B-

I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB


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September 2013

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