Traditional media – film, television, and even other games – assert that murder mysteries must be these masterfully interwoven tapestries of intrigue and everything after. Perfectly placed breadcrumb trails. Curtains that pull back and slam shut at precise moments, leaving just enough to the imagination. That is why I find Noir Syndrome utterly fascinating. It hopes to procedurally generate its murder mysteries, in essence whipping up new ones on the fly without the aid of some crime-obsessed mastermind. Gameplay, meanwhile, appears to be rather sandbox-y, allowing you to sleuth and slaughter in equal measure if you so please. Vidyatron below.
Apologies. I probably should’ve warned you about the horrible Fauxir (faux noir, clearly) accent. But the game – at least, what little I’ve seen of it – shows great promise. I worry that it might not be able to establish particularly interesting characters or scenarios since each steamy nightscape emerges from a computer’s algorithmic bowels, but I can’t fault developer Glass Knuckle Games for trying.
Here’s everything you’ll be able to do. There are a lot of things:
- Procedural generation: Murder mystery scenarios with a new culprit and clues each time, every play-through is unique.
- Permanent choices: NPCs, interactions, death, and a slew of other features will all persist until a new game is started. Every action counts!
- Notebook: Collect vital clues in the detective’s notebook to help narrow down suspects and solve the case.
- Investigation: Interact with and examine numerous objects and characters in a number of environments in the search for more information on the killer.
- Countdown: Given a set number of days to solve the mystery, each area visited will decrement the time left, adding to the urgency of every case.
- Freedom of choice: Attempt to solve the case, or live out your remaining time doing as you please – be it fighting the law, going after gang members, or just seeing the city.
- Gunplay: Combat is generally to be avoided as a single bullet will take down the player. However, when necessary, the revolver is always available for use.
- Badges: Complete a variety of challenges to earn unique badges which directly influence future playthroughs.
- Statistics and Scores: Statistics and high scores for a wide variety of topics will persist through every game.
Ambitious, no? Noir Syndrome is currently on Steam Greenlight, and it’s set to release sometime in spring 2014. It may lack the graphical punch of, say, LA Noire, but I’m digging the openness. Also, Cole Phelps was a total nutbag whether I wanted him to be or not. At least it sounds like Noir Syndrome will let me totally lose my cool and wreak ill-advised havoc on my own terms.