It's tough being a P.I. Especially during the great depression when there's never enough cash to go around. Explore the dreary streets of New York City during the depression era in the beautifully atmospheric adventure game Face Noir, from Mad Orange. You play Jack del Nero, an ex-cop turned private eye. An anonymous phone call in the middle of a stormy night leads to you being falsely charged with murder. With a police chief determined to see you behind bars, how can you clear your name?
Point-and-click to make Jack walk or to investigate objects. Right click to change the mouse icon for different interaction choices. Mouse over the top of the screen to make the inventory bar appear. Alternately if you visit the options menu, you can change to a 3-D type inventory in which case you hit the [spacebar] to open your inventory. You can examine any items you pick up, or try to use them with each other or objects or people on the screen. If you are having a hard time finding all of the hot spots, press [F1] or click the question mark button next to your inventory. This is a nice feature as it allows the background items to blend in while eliminating pixel hunting. You can also click through conversations if needed.
Analysis: Face Noir does an excellent job at immersing you in the game world. There are interactive close up scenes which let you feel more involved in the action. For example instead of just clicking a switch to flip it, you may have to use the motion of your mouse to push the switch in the right direction. While the animation is nothing to write home about, the detailed backgrounds are lovely. The grimness of each scene helps you feel like you are there, and the soundtrack is worthy of any noir film. As you examine your surroundings, you pick up clues that help you later in the game. During certain conversations or scenes the screen will pop into detective mode. Here you have to pick out the two clues relevant to the situation in order to make a deduction about things. It really forces you think like a detective and is a unique concept I haven't seen implemented before.
The very linear gameplay can be frustrating at times. Occasionally your next move may seem obvious, but there will be one other little thing the game wants you to do before it lets you move on. So don't automatically assume you can't do something later just because you couldn't do it before. The voice acting and dialog overall are good, but they definitely have rough patches along the way. Jack's back story is slowly revealed as you play, which is just one of the intriguing mysteries in the game. Despite a few flaws, Face Noir is quite an adventure, and one that will draw you in if you'll let it.