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Game Over Online ~ Discworld Noir

GameOver Game Reviews - Discworld Noir (c) GT Interactive, Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher Discworld Noir (c) GT Interactive
System Requirements Pentium 133, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Tuesday, August 10th, 1999 at 03:40 PM


Divider Left By: Pseudo Nim Divider Right

I’m fan of bold, sweeping statements, like “many people like film noir.” However, as some readers recently pointed out (quite accurately, I might add), that’s bad style - so in this case, this short tribute to them will serve as an intro.

Discworld Noir is an adventure game based on the famous Discworld novels written by Terry Pratchett. This is the third game in the series, the previous ones being called (unexpectedly?), Discworld and Discworld II. They boasted immersive gameplay, good graphics (for the time), a well-written background and story and lots of humour. So what does Discworld Noir have in store? Is it beating around the bush and reinventing the wheel, in a boring sort of way? Or does it offer something new that’s good and fun to play (or reuse something old that’s good and fun to play)? Read on, decide for yourself.

You play the role of a private eye, Lewton, forever stuck in the grim, noir world of Ankh-Morpork. The game starts off with you being dead, which, while somewhat inconvenient, impedes in no way your progress throughout the game. A woman named Carlotta then buys your services (forgetting, conveniently enough, to leave a cheque on the way out) to find a man named Mundy who recently disappeared upon his arrival. Thus starts your journey around the city, with many more characters to meet, talk to, lie to, be lied by and so forth.

This game belong to the more classical style of adventure games, just like the original Discworlds, the good ole’ Indiana Jones (or just about any other LucasArts adventure game) and so forth. That is to say, the mind has power, and not the quick reflex; you won’t need a gun here, you’ll do just fine with a pen (why the pen? See below.) The puzzles are challenging, but none nearly as hard as some of the ones encountered in Grim Fandango. Nor do you have to put together two entirely unrelated objects, only to make them resemble a key which will unlock the next area you need to go to.

Regarding objects, one of the most improtant ones, and one you can’t sell, lose or pawn is your notebook, into which all relevant facts are automatically recorded, and from which you can “pick up” topics to discuss with NPCs (non-player characters, more precisely, everyone but you). There are other things you will pick up and employ to your advantage, such as crowbars, clues for your cases and so forth. You’ll also meet lots of unfriendly characters, who’ll make it a point to harass and otherwise annoy you. Not only that; you’ll meet people who don’t like to have friends, and who’d rather lie to people who are mentally more advanced than they are - but since you’re the advanced one, you’ll have to figure out whether they’re lying or not, and how to extract the truth from them.

Once you do start talking to people, you have a list of topics to discuss in the main dialogue window. However, should you want to (and it’s generally a good idea to), you can open your notebook and ask the character about the issues at hand - mind, once you extract all possible information about a fact, the entry gets crossed out and you can no longer click it. Strangely enough, retracting from the notebook feel and reminding you that this is just a game, whenever you get more information about a fact (but not all the possible information), the entry simply changes - for example, “Strange dwarf” into “Al-Khali.” Welp, I suppose Eraser-Mates(tm) exist on the Disc, too…

The music in the game is astounding. For that matter, the whole environment is incredibly immersive - the feel of a film noir is reproduced most perfectly. It’s almost always raining, the soft jazz in the background adds a nostalgic feel, and overall, it feels like a perfectly authentic film noir, albeit in color. Though I should warn you, it’s sometimes a bit too noir - if it’s daylight and sunlight impedes visibilirty in your room by shining on your monitor, you’ll have a hard time figuring where things are. However, in a stroke of genuis (or tradition?), whenever you move the mouse pointer over a more or less important object, the name shows up beside the cursor - a tradition coined by LucasArts and strangely abandoned in Grim Fandango in favour of Manny’s turning his head. Never got used to it, really.

So how does Discworld Noir measure up to its competition? Frankly, given the fact there isn’t much of a competition at the moment, quite well. Of course, there always are the classics - but this game being what it is, it deserves a good spot in any adventure fan’s collection. The witty humour (and why did I mention nothing of the humour? It’s quite original, funny and “innovative”… ahh, the “i” word). The manual in itself is worth a read - while I usually never read manuals for games, this one was so well-written I thought it deserved a good look. Well worth a gamer’s buck, especially if you’re a fan of the series, of film noir in general, or of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy kind of humour.

 

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Rating
90%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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