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Noir: A Shadowy Thriller
by Al Giovetti
Price: $50
Genre: graphic animated adventure
Release: fall 1996
Developer: Jeff Blyth(veteran film writer,director & producer)/Cyberdreams/TSi
Programmer: TSi - program is in Macromedia Director 5.0; video playback is Smacker for PC and Quicktime for Mac
Music: Donald S. Griffin and licensed music of the period
Art: photographed/filmed by Jeff Blyth (altered by TSi); also archival photographs and transitional video footage obtained at LA/UCLA libraries
Producer: David Mullich
Publisher: Cyberdreams
Phone: (818) 223-9990
Requirements: for PC and Macintosh CD-ROM, PC: Windows '95 or Windows 3.1, 66 MHz 486, 8 Meg RAM, 2x CD-ROM, SVGA (640x480, 8-bit mode), music optimized for SB AWE 32 Mac: System 7.0, 68030, 8 MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM

Company line: Enter the black and white world of 1940 Los Angeles as you retrace the steps of missing detective, Jack Slayton.

History: In 1993, Cyberdreams released Darkseed, a gritty science fiction horror graphic animated adventure that was based upon the dark visions of H. R. Geieger. The trials of Mike Dawson won the Software Publisher's Association award for best role playing or adventure program of 1993. In 1993, Computer Gaming World, arguably the most prestigious computer game rag, presented the Adventure Game of the Year award to the animated graphic adventure game based upon Harlan Ellison's disturbing book, "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream," a disturbing science fiction adventure based on the dark dimensions of ethical and psychological issues. Although it probably will not win any awards, NOIR is a game that continue in this story telling tradition.

Plot: NOIR lures would-be private investigators into smoke-filled rooms, darkened alleyways, secluded mansions, and the shadowy urban underbelly of Hollywood's classic 1940s detective genre. As a lone P.I., you must sort through intricate layers of clues and deception to find the truth behind the murder of a colleague. Femme fatales, fedora-wearing henchmen, corrupt city officials and callous cops all inhabit the dark underworld of 1940 Los Angeles.

Game play: You'll need your own gut instincts and street smarts, leaping headlong into the mire of six sinister cases, ranging from wartime espionage in Chinatown to the seductive excesses of Hollywood. Your investigation will take you through 18 classic locations, such as the Bradbury Building and Griffith Park Observatory. You look for clues and solve puzzles to progress the plot in the game. The answers to the puzzles are almost given to you as an award for exploring the dark environment of the game.

Difficulty: There are three levels of difficulty: easy, medium, and hard. Even at medium the game is very easy. In any case the game is far too short.

Puzzles: The logic puzzles employs objects & information you gather from the game. Many puzzles are of the treasure hunt type.

Interface: A simple "point & click" interface with smart cursor moves you around the black and white scenes which are from the first person point of view. Locations are accessed by clicking on them. The "informant" help feature will help you over problems, simply return to your office and use the phone.

Graphics: The plot of intrigue unfolds with the aid of more than 1600 photographs, 75 cinematic sequences. 18 fully-explorable locations, many of which are authentic (historic) locations in LA. The style is similar to the film noir style of film, with three dimensional scenes depicted in black and white. Underneath the three dimensional settings is a photorealistic environment that appears to have been produced with 3D studio.

Animation: Some background animation and filmed FMV sequences provide the motion and action for this game.

Voice actors: The actors use period costume and the lingo from the period to put you in the mood. Everything reminds you of a Raymond Chandler novel or movie, save that the visuals are significantly darker. Why is it that games are always just a bit too dark to see things?

Music score: Musical score recreates the black and white film experience with music from the period which is context sensitive and will react to the tense moments in the game. The CD Audio was an original composition by Donald S. Griffin.

Sound effects: Some sound effects are digital and some Foley giving you footsteps, creaking doors, train whistles, and other effects.

Hints: Use the phone to contact informants who provide hints.

Multi-player: Unfortunately, there are no multiplayer features that will allow you to play this one cooperatively with a friend.

Julie Gordon, Computer Player, volume 1, number 6, January, 1997, pg. 70, 70%.