Before LA Noire, There Was This 1996 Noir Adventure Game

Part of the appeal of Rockstar's LA Noire was the fact it was set in a time period that video games normally avoid like the plague. The hats, the music, the black & white, it should be poison to a generation of gamers accustomed to wars, aliens, sports and fast cars.

But as LA Noire's success shows, there's a market for moody period mysteries. One that 1996 adventure game Noir: A Shadowy Thriller tried its darnedest to cater for. Developed by TSi, a short-lived California studio and published by 1990's multimedia tragics Cyberdream, Noir - which already has one over Rockstar's 2011 title for the fact it could spell the word properly - was a crude adventure game which basically involved a lot of clicking on stuff.

In fact, that's almost all you did in the game, as aside from some surprisingly competent FMV conversation sequences, you spend most of your time picking up and interacting with things on static 2D images, ala Myst. Rather than being to the game's detriment, though, it's actually quite the piece of work.

Noir comprises what must be thousands of painstakingly authentic photographs, some of the beautiful vistas of 1940's Los Angeles, others as mundane as close-ups of an elevator button. It's a disturbingly comprehensive tribute to the era, one that even LA Noire's obsession with hats and fancy shoes doesn't ever seem to match.

The game is your typical mystery fare; your partner goes missing, so you pick up his last remaining cases in an attempt to find him. Along the way you encounter pretty ladies, well-dressed gentlemen, Chinatown, Hollywood and stereotypical, dimly-lit offices. Basically, everything you'd expect and hope for given the genre.

Sadly, the game's no longer commercially available, but if you want to check it out, Google should be able to help you track down a copy.

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    Almost finished my playthru of LA Noire. Switched to Black and White midway thru and understood what Rockstar was trying to do immediately. Also, Discworld Noir is a great send-up of the genre in general. Especially if you're a PTerry fan.

      You mean you understood what Team Bondi was trying to do.

    The Artist of video games?

    Noire its the feminine spelling of Noir, do you really think there would be an unintentional typo in a title for a game that has to go through so much QA?

      It's Plunkett, what do you expect? Quality journalism seems to be a bar he can't obtain. Like a big guy placing his hand on a little guy's head to hold him at arm's length while the little guy madly swings punches at him but can't quite reach.

    Going back even further (mid/late 80s), I enjoyed the game Deja Vu, which I played on the C64. The story hit all the right noir notes: a private eye wakes up with amnesia, discovers he's been framed for a murder he didn't commit and has to both sleuth and fight to clear his name.

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