I’ll be honest. Until now I had yet to see an RPG tackle film noir tropes. With Pixel Noir that’s changed and I decided to give the demo released for it a spin. And I have to say that the very little bit shown shows plenty of promise. While the story would probably have suited a medium like adventures better I do really like the approach that the developers are taking with this.
So, as with any good noir story, the demo starts out with a hungover Detective as he answers a knocking at his shabby apartment door. Yes, that’s the character’s name. I’m assuming that it’s a placeholder for right now and that you can rename him whatever you want when playing the full game. Anyway, you’re greeted by a client known only as “Deuce” who wants you to track down someone that’s gone silent. You pretty much have no choice but to take him up on it and you leave for the local bar.
Here’s where it stops being just another pixelated story using an RPG overlay. You get your first taste of combat in the alleyway behind the bar. And, like most turn-based games of its type you’ve got an “active time battle” system complete with standard attacks, special abilities, and items. You’re pretty much limited to using your gun and going on a “coffee break.” I didn’t use the latter but I can only assume that it’s an HP restorer.
The demo for Pixel Noir then continues as you smack the information out of the dude riddled with bullet holes and he leads you to a warehouse down by the docks. So, of course you head down there and meet up with your quarry. Who promptly tells you that things are afoot and that he’s being hunted by the same people that hired the Detective to go looking for him. Then the crap really hits the fan.
Deuce promptly shows up in the middle of the conversation, says that both parties have reneged on their “contracts” and that payment is off. Then shoots the guy that we’ve been tracking down. Followed promptly by our “hero” getting a headache and starts to see things that belong in a nightmare. Which, presumably, is tied to whatever happened to his old partner years ago that sent him to prison. It’s not really stated in what we’ve got to play around with.
Here’s what I love about what I saw with Pixel Noir so far. While we’ve barely scratched the surface and only taken on one case it does set the stage for what’s to come. It plays out just like most 16-bit titles from the past, right down to the turn based combat. Which actually works. Sometimes a shoot-out is inevitable, particularly in detective stories. It’s not easy being a down on your luck gumshoe taking whatever comes through your door, and despite only being about a half hour long it gives us a taste of what to expect. I really do look forward to seeing where they take our Detective once the game releases.