A game intended to be a mirror of “film noir” cinematography, Face Noir is a “point-and-click” action game between Phoenix Online Studios and Mad Orange. Set in New York City during the time of the great depression, the alcoholic private investigator known as Jack Del Nero is sent on a job which starts with a seemingly routine task of taking some incriminating photographs for a client, but quickly spins out of control as he is accused for a murder he is innocent of, all the while trying to protect a young girl while the city of New York itself is after him.
For the size that it is (just a bit under a gig for the set up file), the graphics held up for what was being offered. While it certainly isn’t pretty or shiny like many of the AAA titles like Skryim, there is more of a focus on making the atmosphere dark and dreary by using a darker palette of colour, with the focus being on the “film noir” style that the game is based off of. There is also much detail taken into account for the environment players will get to explore, as a multitude of posters, signs, pictures, and the like all become present in the Big Apple, all of which are intractable. The game however does not appear to be intended for use on widescreen monitors, as the resolution of the game is fixed at 1024×768. The animations used in the game are also quite rigid, making the game feel a little less like a recent release.
In short: Good use of colour palette for mood, great focus on game world, no resolution options for widescreen, limited animation – 14/20
When it came to playing the game for the first time, I attempted to run it on my laptop, which saw some heavy graphical bugs. Keeping in mind that the laptop I used was fairly recent (ASUS N53S), I noticed that as soon as the gameplay began, that the entire game world lagged (with even the individual rain drops rendering as boxes). Needless to say that the game was pretty much unplayable at this point, I was forced to switch off to a desktop computer to continue the trial, at which point I found no problems in terms of bugs. However the cause of the major graphical issues has not been found.
In short: Very strange graphical errors on laptop, which disappeared after moving to desktop, no other bugs of note – 16/20
At this point the game no longer becomes enjoyable. While there is much to interact with in the game world, and a lot of background given in the game (mostly because it was based in a real place and time), the fun pretty much stops there, as the game takes a route so linear there’s no possible way to make any mistakes. Rather than going out to gather evidence on their own, players instead have to complete a hidden set of objectives in a very specific order (investigate this item, then go talk to this person, etc etc.). Any actions outside of this order don’t lead to any progress on the case (or instead lead to annoying responses from Jack such as “that would make it too easy”). And speaking of objectives, there is no way to determine where you left off in the game, as the game’s menu (apart from the save/load/options screen) is simply a row at the top of the screen with unlabeled inventory items. That’s it. No list of objectives, or things to look at or check, or notes, or any kind of text. The inventory also falls into the category of ‘ridiculously linear’, as almost any item you do end up picking up and adding to the inventory is used in the same area, or somewhere that neighbours it on the map.
Apart from the actual gameplay, the story feels rather dragged out and slow, with the first mission (depending on how quickly you pick up on certain clues) taking over an hour. The characters that are featured also appear to be rather bland and two-dimensional, as almost nothing about them (apart from a name and what they do) is ever really explored. It sometimes feels that there’s a story about to be told about a character, but then the game trails off to whatever was going on at the time.
In short: Bland characters and gameplay, some focus on game world, next-to-no inventory – 8/20
There are only two unique features noticed in the game, neither of which really make a big impact on the game itself. The first is the ability to directly manipulate some items, such as switches, locks, dials, etc. This is normally just to do minor things such as unlock doors, and change the environment, things that players are forced to do anyways to continue in the story. The second feature is used when talking with other people in the game world, where information picked up throughout the game can be linked together to form clues or questions. Again, this is hardly seen, and does not change much about how the game itself is played.
In short: While a couple of minor features are added into the game, they do little to change the gameplay in general… more like a series of minigames – 10/20
Probably one of the only things I found I enjoyed in the game (apart from the setting and colours used) was the soundtrack used in the game. It doesn’t overpower the environment, but sets a somewhat moody undertone to the bleakness that the Great Depression gives off. The soundtrack itself is available with the preorder of the game, allowing buyers to be able to listen to the music outside of the game.
In short: The mood of the music fits the game well, though does not really stand out on its own – 13/20
The game isn’t really worth the $15/$20 asking price, considering that the original Italian version was only $10 when it came out. While the approach toward Face Noir was to air on the side of realism, as a consequence the creators really dropped the ball on the gameplay. After all, point-and-click style games have not been popular for a long time, and even the ones that were had the gameplay to back them up (such as the original Diablo games, where there was much more to the basic system than Face Noir has put in). While the attempt to take the game in a new direction is admirable, it cost both Mad Orange and Phoenix Online Studios the chance at a great game.
Overall score: 61/100
- Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7
- Pentium 2 GHz
- 1 GB RAM
- 2 GB of disk space
- DirectX 9.0c
- Graphics Card 128 MB
- Sound Card
- 4X DVD Player
- Keyboard and Mouse