Developer & Publisher: Silvermode Games
Released: September 7, 2022
Requirements: OS: Minimum, Windows Vista SP1; Recommended, Windows 7
Processor: Minimum, 2.0 Ghtz Dual Core; Recommended, 2.6 Core Dual Core
RAM: Minimum, 2 GB RAM; Recommended, 3 GB RAM
Graphics: Minimum, ATI Radeon HD 3400/Geforce 9400 with 512 MB VRAM
Recommended, ATI RADEON HD 4500/GeForce 9400 GT or higher
DirectX: Version 9C
Storage: 5 GB available space
Nine Noir Lives
Welcome to Meow Furrington, capital city of cats, home of the world's biggest ball of yarn...and hotbed of crime. You are Cuddles Nutterbutter, feline private investigator and owner of two perfectly normal-sized paws, the doctor said so.
After agreeing to take on a last-minute case for the Chief of Police, you and your plucky assistant find yourselves investigating a murder that risks upsetting the careful balance between the city's two most powerful crime families: the Montameeuws and the Catulets.
Play through a charming comedy-noir storyline inspired by every cat ever, with fewer cat puns than you might expurrct.
So says the Steam page and if that little description makes you want to groom behind your ears – and you can put aside your feelings about dogs being altogether better!! – there is in the vicinity of 12 hours of third person point-and-click punny catty fun to be had here.
There’s a body on the floor of the Knitty Kitty Club and there is much to be uncovered. If you can get inside that is. But why has Cuddles even been called in you might ask? Because of that delicate crime family balance I would answer. He is neutral, able to go places and ask the questions the police can’t. Plus he has those very normal paws.
His plucky and incredibly capable assistant is Tabby (of course it is), organised office manager, research guru and occasional gumshoe in the field. You get to step out as Tabby more than once, an aspect I liked; she was way too central to things to be confined to the office. In one sequence you also get to play both her and Cuddles at the same time, switching between them at will.
There is humour, often of the corny wry type rather than the laugh out loud type (which might be more about me and is an observation not a criticism). It is present throughout and can be found in the environment as well as the dialogue. Of which there is a lot. Cats are apparently loquacious creatures, and while you can read and flick through it if you wish, the game is best suited to letting it unfold at its spoken pace. To that end, turn subtitles off (if you don’t need them) and autoplay text on.
Its an elaborate story, with red herrings, twists and turns, and cake throughout. It unfolds across the city, and while at first you only have access to your office and the KK Club, additional locations will open up on your map as you progress. There is a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing, some by design and some because you are searching for whatever it is that you missed in order to move on.
The magnifying glass in the bottom right of the screen highlights hotspots (or use the space bar) which can help in your searching, as can the notebook top right. If you choose to play with ‘story mode’ the journal will more than help, pretty much telling you what to do. You can turn that mode on and off through the menu. There are occasions too where Cuddles will say something like “I better head back to the office” or “there are more answers here,” and chatting with Tabby can assist. Despite some vagueness at times, those things mean you shouldn’t be stuck for long.
There is a gentle bit of timing to a couple of puzzles (e.g.,Adventur distract a character and then engage in some action before the character’s attention returns) but that is as actiony as it gets. Conundrums are largely of the find and use the item in the right place type. Like all such games, some solves can be a tad fanciful but a bit of ‘try everything’ always helps. You can’t always take something you might need if you don’t have a reason to take it, and looking at something (as opposed to just trying to interact with it) can be essential. Click the briefcase bottom left (or the handbag for Tabby) to bring up the inventory, where you can look at items more closely, combine them, or even lick them. Indeed, licking is available to use in the broader game world, usually just producing a droll response but necessary for a couple of solves. Click items to try using them in the game world, and right-click or wheel-scroll through your suitably catty action cursers to look, take or talk.
There are cut scenes throughout, some providing a stylish noir interlude. By and large, except for the characters the settings are static, but there is detail and sufficient goings-on for it to never feel sterile. Some screens slide left or right as you move the character around, and while you can’t move faster by double-clicking, you can ‘jump’ to an exit point which will load the next part of the scene.
It looks and sounds good, and the voice acting is polished, especially in the main characters. Save at will, tweak a few things in the menu. One screen at the menu gives you the basics of how to play, and along with everything else makes it accessible to all. Built by a two person team as a love-letter to point-and-click adventure games, these nine lives certainly get the cream.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB