A voiceover, a ramshackle office, the glow of a cigarette in the dark, jazz music… Film Noir, which lived through its greatest moment of splendour in the 40s and 50s, left us a legacy that, many decades later, was collected in a handful of interactive masterpieces, a series of classics for computers and consoles that turned us into private detectives and police officers on the trail of criminals for a few hours. The brotherhood of the trench coat, the fedora hat and the smoking gun will have a new member from 2021: Pecaminosa.
Pecaminosa is an Action RPG in which we will play the role of John Souza, a detective fallen from grace due to his fondness for alcohol and gambling, who is presented with the strangest job of his career: capturing the former partners of a notable and deceased mob boss… on behalf of his own ghost. This is the only way for the criminal’s soul to reach Heaven, but the challenge will not be easy in a city, Pecaminosa, that has earned its name by heart.
Developed by the Portuguese Cereal Games, Pecaminosa fuses the mechanics and aesthetics of classic Action RPGs with the depth and freedom of action expected from a modern-day title. We will be able to customize the appearance and the arsenal of our character at all times, as well as personalize its evolution at our will, through the L.I.F.E. system, distributing the experience points in four different parameters: Luck, Intelligence, Force and Endurance.
Pecaminosa will arrive in the spring of 2021 to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC by Badland Publishing. If you can’t wait to put on your trench coat and hat, you can warm up with this small selection of Noir-inspired classics. The glass of whiskey is optional.
Under a Killing Moon
The saga of Tex Murphy, a detective played by the franchise’s designer, Chris Jones, is one of the most cherished by fans of the graphic adventures of the 90s. We have chosen the third installment, from 1994, because it was a revolution, leaving the 2D scenarios to make the leap into three-dimensional environments, all topped off with the magic of the FMV, then in full blossom. Thanks to a budget of $2 million, Access Software was able to recruit a top-notch cast (Brian Keith, Margot Kidder and the voice of James Earl Jones). The magic of the chroma key and a pure film Noir setting (in the San Francisco of 2042), did the rest.
If we talk about Noir adventures in futuristic environments, we could not leave out this masterpiece from Westwood Studios, whose plot ran parallel to Ridley Scott’s unforgettable film. In it we played Ray McCoy, a rookie Blade Runner who is charged with “retiring” a series of mischievous replicants. Although Harrison Ford/Deckard did not appear in the game, if it is mentioned in diverse moments, and the players had the opportunity to interact with part of the rest of the cast of the movie: Sean Young (Rachael), Brion James (Leon) or William Sanderson (J.F. Sebastian). For a lot of years this 1997 jewel was discontinued, but now it can be officially downloaded at digital stores like GOG.com.
The masters of the graphic adventure genre, LucasArts, with Tim Schafer at the wheel, provided us in 1998 with this gem, which fused all the elements of film Noir with the Mexican Día de los Muertos folklore. Manuel “Manny” Calavera wears the tuxedo in the same style as Bogart in this adventure located in the Land of the Dead, full of mystery, charm and references to classics such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. Grin Fandango was also rescued a few years ago, in a remastered version that was marketed for all types of platforms, including PS4, Xbox One and Switch.
It would be impossible not to mention this groundbreaking production by Rockstar, because it is possibly the video game industry’s greatest tribute to film Noir. In fact, it could be said that it is practically a film, both for its production values (its budget exceeded 50 million dollars) and for its artistic output. For what would be its first, and only, creation, Team Bondi signed and digitalized through motion capture a large cast, led by Aaron Staton (Mad Men) in the role of Cole Phelps, the protagonist of a game designed to transport us to the city of Los Angeles in 1947, with an absolutely overwhelming realism and detail. Entering L.A. Noire was like traveling inside a James Ellroy novel.
Authors such as Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, Liza Marklund and Camila Läckberg made Scandinavia the current reference for the Noir novel, and very close to there, in Finland, a studio called Remedy Entertainment managed to transform the epic Noir into an absolutely revolutionary experience. We are talking, of course, about Max Payne, a game that fused the setting of the Noir novel into a pyrotechnic show with shootings in the purest style of John Woo’s cinema, enhanced by the use of bullet time.
The humor and the clichés of film Noir can also be successfully merged, as was evident with the hilarious Discworld Noir, an adventure set in the wonderful universe of Terry Pratchett‘s books. The author himself supervised the script of this Perfect Entertainment production in which we faced Lewton, a private detective in charge of investigating a brutal murder. Discworld Noir originally appeared on PC in 1999, and a year later it would be adapted to PlayStation. Unfortunately, both versions are currently discontinued.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215
The design of Nintendo DS, with its double screen and the shell-shaped opening, was perfect to give life to a point-and-click adventure that was played with the console open vertically, as if it were a book. Created by Cing and produced by Nintendo, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 was one of the main bets of the Japanese giant to attract a much more adult audience, and many parents borrowed their children’s DS to get into the trench coat of Kyle Hide, the protagonist of the game.