By: Casey Curran
Before you ask, Face Noir is not a game that makes fun of Rockstar’s LA Noire. I thought the same thing and am now waiting for a developer to make this hypothetical game that does not exist; you know, a game that makes fun of Cole Phelps’ robotic character and overly exaggerated facial animations. Then maybe even brings in lasers and dinosaurs. Since everything is better with lasers and dinosaurs. Sorry, I got sidetracked there. It should provide a good sign of how enthusiastic I am about this actual game.
Face Noir employs a very simple, old-school point-and-click interface. Left clicking is used for interacting with the environment while right clicking cycles through how you interact with it. Clicking on an item lets you use it. The only real issue I have with this is that everything has the main character move at a very… slow… pace. Even if he is just observing he has to move, which makes the game much more tedious.
There are also a few mini-games such as picking locks where the mouse interface usually does not work well. These can be skipped, which primarily just makes me wonder why they exist in the first place. They aren’t fun so they really serve no purpose than to waste time.
Visually, Face Noir looks like something from about 10 years ago. While from a technical standpoint this is not bad at all, it looks much more bland than other games with inferior graphics. The pre-rendered are look very drab and boring.
The voice acting on the other hand is “wonderfully terrible.” In fact, this is the most I’ve enjoyed voice acting in a game since Mordin in Mass Effect 2. The main character in particular sounds like he’s doing a terrible David Hayter impersonation. The writing matches the performances perfectly, too, as conversations sound nothing like what real people would say and instead are clearly written for a video game. On the bright side, music and sound effects actually do a very good job of matching the time period.
Puzzles in Face Noir are terrible and confusing for all the wrong reasons. They employ a kind of logic that either does not explain itself well or uses a twisted version of it.
For instance, early on I needed to get a picture from outside a hotel window. However, it would not allow me to pick the lock in the gate blocking access to where I could take said picture until I turned the heat on in the person’s room so they’d open it. The game did nothing to inform of this second part, which just made it confusing as to why a lock pick didn’t work on a gate.
Unfortunately this was the norm instead of an exception to the game’s confusing puzzles. This was not helped by how the environment has objects that are very important, yet do nothing to stand out. The game offers a way to indicate what you can interact with, but this is only for a very short period and generally took three or four times before I got a grasp of what to interact with.
The story meanwhile, despite the fun, campy dialogue, is a very bland sendoff to old-school noir-style films. Neither the characters nor plot have much to engage until later when the game makes a twist that really does not work. For the sake of spoilers I will not say it, but it felt very out of place in this kind of game.
Face Noir is not a game that has very much going for it. It is a point-and-click adventure with a very old-school design but without remembering to remove their issues. In fact, the best parts about the game are the aspects it does so bad that they manage to be hilarious. You may be able to get some campy enjoyment, but other than that I do not recommend it.