Face Noir Review (PC)

good
key review info
  • Game: Face Noir
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: No
  • Reviewed on:
  • Written by: Liana Nastase
  • Show system requirements
Face Noir

Face Noir is one alluring adventure that will give private eye mystery fans the chance to experience a noir-style storyline, starting with the typical Great Depression-era characters and going as far as the music style.

This point-and-click game stays true to the private eye noir aesthetic, giving out genuine vibes starting with the sepia-toned artwork that will induce the perfect state for playing it.

Our hero goes by the name of Jack del Nero, a cynic ex-cop with the unfortunate habit of drinking. His life isn't one to be proud of, as he is stuck doing groveling work catching husbands and wives fooling around outside of marriage and taking pictures of young women from the outside of hotel room windows.

He resembles more of an errand boy rather than a private detective, but his luck is about to change when he finds himself in the center of an international conspiracy.

Therefore, one can see that Jack incorporates the noir P.I stereotype, drinking at “the joint” owned by the woman he fancies, wearing a trench coat and barely having any money to pay the rent. Of course, let's not forget the dame that needs saving.

What makes the game interesting from the very beginning is the usage of nonlinear story-telling. The intro shows what appears to be the detective's final moments. How things got to that point is up to the player to figure out, by solving the numerous puzzles along the way.
 
Face Noir remains quite faithful to the classic point-and-click workings but adds some modern twists. Unlike other games in the genre, here we have a combination of right and left mouse clicking for interaction.

You must use both mouse buttons to grab items, socialize with other characters and acquire information about certain things. The inventory gives the opportunity to combine objects, but this feature is quite minimal.

Although the puzzles are pretty simple, the game does require some thinking. Rather than having new dialogues available after picking up all the necessary facts like in other adventure games, Face Noir brings gamers a “Let's Think About This” mode.

This particular mode contains up to 15 of the facts you've collected, requiring you to think logically and link two of them correctly in order to proceed further in the game.

Once you've made the right choice, the conversation topic will continue. It might not be the most challenging thing ever, but it does give the feeling of a detective's work. It represents your classic feature of object-combining applied to dialogues.

Developers have also incorporated some interesting close-up sequences of certain puzzles. Players must use the mouse by combining a series of left to right movements and left-right clicking to pick a doorknob or choose music from a jukebox.

The goal is to have something more than the traditional left mouse clicking, something similar to a touch-based feature. It might not work perfectly, but it's surely a step in the right direction.

Speaking of the story, Face Noir sure does feel like a novel. Regrettably, there are a few aspects that ruin the mood, such as the character's voices, the lips not being synced to the English dialogues as well as the poorly animated characters.



The voice interpretations aren’t the best ones and can become quite a bother as they seem forced, bored and lacking fluidity.

When it comes to Del Nero, his voice does illustrate his personality – dry, inexplicable and pessimistic. But, his more than frequent utterances of the word “Dannazione!” will certainly get on one’s nerves, making you think he is an American with Italian roots.

The dialogues are not so entertaining and add nothing new to the genre. Maybe this is what the developers intended, to exaggerate everything that is related to the noir aesthetics but, sadly, the result seems quite tacky.

From a graphic point of view, del Nero as well as the others are poorly animated and lack anything resembling urgency in movement as well as voicing.

Actually, the entire game seems a bit static, with no “running” feature being available, even the supposed videos are mostly just series of pictures.

Our hero can sometimes look a bit out of place in the 2D background. This is a common thing in the noir genre, but it seems as if the devs went a bit overboard here.
  
Other than that, the environment does incorporate the feeling of a past era, having everything shown through a faded film-grain filter. Players shouldn't expect too much color, as there will be a wide pallet of grays, golds, browns and, of course, black.

The music fits perfectly into the NYC background, the moaning of sad muted trumpets blending with the sound of the pouring rain, delivering a genuine film noir vibe. Truth be told, it is one delicious soundtrack, especially if you are into jazz music and anything related to it.

The Good

  • Great soundtrack
  • Commitment to the noir genre
  • Nonlinear story-telling
  • Sepia-toned artwork

The Bad

  • Bad graphics
  • Forced voice interpretations
  • Tacky dialogues
  • Poorly animated characters

Conclusion

Although the game might have quite a number of drawbacks in several departments, Face Noir definitely delivers the noir setting from a visual and sound point of view.

The developers have taken the Great Depression-era private eye mechanics pretty seriously, a bit too much if you ask me, but one can overlook the weak graphics and voice acting and enjoy the jazzy mode of the game and its puzzles.

Mystery fans will take real pleasure in such a game as it is fully committed to the “adventure noir” field.

      
story 7
gameplay 6
concept 6
graphics 7
audio 9
multiplayer 0
final rating 7
Editor's review
good
 
NEXT REVIEW: Montague's Mount

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