It’s not every day a game has the ability to transport players back in time. I’ll admit I was unprepared for the nostalgia trip I underwent over the course of my 3-hour play-through of Noir Chronicles: City of Crime. All of the unpleasant memories came flooding back unbidden to assault my senses. CD-ROM drives whirling, 64kb modems dialing, Cotton-Eye Joe on the radio. Needless to say, this play-through was not an enjoyable experience for me.
At its heart Noir Chronicle is a 2D mystery point and click search puzzle game. Players find themselves neck deep in the murder of “Barbara!!”, as private investigator Alfred Fox. After being called by “Barbara!!” Fox rushes to her aid only to discover she had expired in her house. Players are thrust into the search for her killer transporting them into the seedy underbelly of the local crime syndicate to find her mob-affiliated killer. I really wish there were more to the story than this but sadly it is as cliché as it sounds.
As previously mentioned, the game is based upon two core game-play mechanics: puzzles and searching. The puzzles provide an amusing mechanic to move the story-line along, however, the point and click searches are tedious, monotonous, and prone to glitches. Puzzles come in a variety of forms such as mazes, fix the broken object, mathematics, and patterns. The sheer amount, however, does little for the gameplay experience as the puzzles require little concentration or effort in order to be successfully completed.
The point and click searching, on the other hand, were a mixed element. The game contained two types of searching: plot driven and mini-game puzzles. While the former added something to the experience, the latter provided absolutely zero value to the gaming experience. The mini-games were stricken with the fatal flaw of complete simplification. Once a mini-game is triggered, the player is provided with a pile of items in which you must “obtain the missing items.” But the games possess zero depth. You are given a list of items in “outline” and when they have been found the game ends. What’s more, these tasks are not only annoying, they are taken one step further
when players are forced to assemble certain items before they can be collected. I found these games to frankly be fluff, filler, and a complete waste of time.
A few issues
Noir Chronicles: City of Crime is a mediocre game wrapped in a functional animated wrapper. The game itself functions as it should with only a few issues. I found the “give item” command to be quite irritating and prone to glitches. I regularly attempted to deliver an item to another character, for instance, Barbara’s boss at the newspaper, but the game would NOT allow me to do so until I exited the dialogue menu and restarted the interaction.
Strange fighting mechanic
Another oddity of this game is the strangely out of place combat sequences. On three separate occasions, players are required to “defend” themselves against members of the crime syndicate. These “fights” are memory puzzles assuming the disguise of violence. The puzzles are simple enough but are oddly placed within the narrative, and very strange. An additional flaw with these encounters is the lack of consequences. To investigate this, I intentionally entered the wrong sequence of buttons to only discover it merely results in having to restart the sequence. It is impossible to fail.
I am conflicted.
My feelings on this game are mixed. Mechanically speaking, the game functions. While it contains a few minor glitches, none appear to be game-breaking. My major complaint lies with the story and the sub-par voice acting. As previously mentioned the game’s script leaves MUCH to be desired. It can best be summarized as something a middle school child would write about a mob boss love triangle. It truly is terrible.
The only aspect which can top the story as ‘the worst part’ is the voice acting. It is straight out of the 1990s, down to over-exaggeration and lack of respect for the medium it is serving. Every phrase or line that is spoken comes across as disingenuous and as if the actors are working extremely hard. The game feels ancient, like an antiquated throwback to a style of game that no players want, or ask, to return to. I can’t fault that the developers made a functioning game, but functional does not mean enjoyable. A flimsy story does not produce a fun game, and this is about as flimsy as they come.
- Fun Puzzles
- Interesting Graphics
- Horrible Writing
- Terrible Voice-Acting