Face Noir is an adventure game that was developed by Italian indie studio Mad Orange, and is being localised by Phoenix Online Studios. It follows the story of private investigator Jack del Nero who has been accused of murdering the man who left a little girl in his protection.
As you can tell from the title, the game receives much inspiration from the film noir genre, and it does not disappoint in that aspect. The game has an excellent atmosphere, which makes you feel right in the middle of the classic noir films. As well as the graphics, the soundtrack adds to the atmosphere substantially. The only place where the audio distracted from the atmosphere was during a scene set in a police station – as it had the sound of telephones ringing loudly every few seconds. Though realistic for a busy New York police station, the loud ringing broke the atmosphere the game tries (and often succeeds) so hard to build.
Phoenix Online Studios have built a well deserved reputation for featuring great story telling and dialogue in their games. The script in Face Noir does not quite reach their previous high standards, as there are a few instances where words or phrases were repeated too many times or certain sentences which have lost their way during translation. Phoenix Online Studios translated the the original script by Mad Orange, and this is the first translation I have seen Phoenix Online Studios carry out. The fact that Face Noir’s script isn’t up there with Phoenix Online Studios best is understandable, though a shame non the less.
The story is typical of what you would expect from noir crime drama, although it has it’s own twists and turns along the way. Face Noir isn’t afraid to stick to genre clichés, with the main character’s love of whisky, smokes, and history in the police force. Face Noir is all the better for it however, as they all add to the crime noir atmosphere. The characters are a mix of genre archetypes and truly stand out gems, with Chon being one of my surprise favourites. The voice acting is generally very well done and is certainly more hit than miss.
I did not think I would miss the hint system that is present in Cognition and Moebius as much as I did while playing Film Noir. While that might suggest that the puzzles can be quite difficult or ambiguous, I recognise that it could also mean my inaptitude, and how I have grown to rely on hints! Thankfully, POS has a fantastic english walkthrough that you can use to help through any tricky parts of the game.
The game also makes use of minigames, including a lockpicking one, which while looking much more realistic than say Skyrim’s one, I could not get the hang of it at all. There is however a ‘skip’ option for these, which I was very grateful for. There is also a stealth/sneaking portion in the game, which I think works slightly better than the one in Broken Sword 3, but it was still far from my favourite part of the game, especially since if you failed it, you would return to the beginning of that level, and have to go through a cutscene. However, it is good to mix up the gameplay every now and then, especially since there weren’t many of those sections (especially compared to the aforementioned Broken Sword 3).
Overall, Face Noir is an interesting adventure game, although it does have its flaws. While I believe the translation of the dialogue could have been improved, I appreciate Phoenix Online Studios attempts at localisation, and I hope that they continue to do more and provide us with more games from other languages and cultures. I would recommend the game to those that love or are interested in crime thrillers or noir films, while others may wish to play the demo first.
Intriguing story, although slow at first
Dialogue could be improved
Some ambiguous puzzles