Noir Syndrome Is A Procedurally Generated Murder Mystery

But, I mean, will the mob really miss $52?

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.


  1. Loque says:

    Greenlight / Kickstarter campaign checklist

    [ x ] Amazing stuff
    [ x ] Freedom / Open world
    [ x ] Procedural stuff
    [ x ] Retro-pixel graphics yeaaaaa…

    On a serious note, even if I am not a fan of modern graphics by any mans… I can see why people start getting bored of pixels.

    • Juan Raigada says:

      Agree, this looks absolutely incredible.

      I’ve rather have good pixels than bad or cheesy 3D art (see the GK remake, for example). I like people playing to their strengths.

  2. salty-horse says:

    Will it top the classic Where’s an Egg? ?

  3. yusefsmith says:

    Noir Syndrome Will Be, Maybe, A Procedurally Generated Murder Mystery, If It Comes Out, But Give Us Your Money Now.

    Fixed the headline for you.

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    Looks dandy – but why the heck, after starting on my own murder mystery sim, they all suddenly start crawling out of the woodwork?

    I started on this a few months ago: link to

    I’m sure to be accused of ripping off whichever other ones happen to pop up, but at least I’m upfront about what I am actually ripping off. :)

    • LionsPhil says:

      Probably that psychological thing where the more aware of a thing you are, the more you seem to see an abnormally high number of occurrences of it. (It’s got a fancy name, but it’s damn hard to Google for.)

      • yusefsmith says:


      • mineshaft says:

        Confirmation bias? You see more of what you expect to see and less of what you don’t.

        I was thinking of simultaneous invention. There are ideas whose time has come and multiple inventors or artists come to the window within weeks of each other after years of work. That’s why a Sims or a Minecraft can be so surprising when it comes out of nowhere, with no rivals to speak of.

        And there’s something called unconscious selective attention.

        link to

    • Llewyn says:

      Interesting project, good luck with it!

  5. CaidKean says:

    “A procedurally generated murder mystery” sums up Murder for the Amiga ( link to ) pretty well.

    Nice to see someone giving the concept another go either way!

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      See my comment a bit further up. :P

      Also, Murder on the Zinderneuf.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Murder on the Zinderneuf! Played that to death on Atari 8bit. They did a great job with their story seeds, still remember a few of the odder bits.

        Dang, it even has the same art, oh well. You’d think they coulda gotten a few more bits.

      • CaidKean says:

        You don’t tell me what to see, you’re not my mother!


        Or are you?

    • Scurra says:

      I was trying to remember what this reminded me of. (Although I think I had it on the ST.)
      Meanwhile, if people would like to see a different spin on the “procedurally generated murder mystery” game, try this: link to

    • Shigawire says:

      Something quite similar is Sid Meier’s Covert Action.. except it’s a procedurally generated terrorism plot, and you have to discover the terrorism plot before it gets resolved. :)

  6. Lars Westergren says:

    > Perfectly placed breadcrumb trails. Curtains that pull back and slam shut at precise moments, leaving just enough to the imagination.

    Yes, that and fascinating, multilayered characters. These things are just the opposite of procedurally generated. I don’t understand RPS continual fascination with procedural. It is fine for generating sandbox worlds, sure. But for story driven stuff? If there is to be any depth and variety to it, humans will have to put in the same amount of work as if they wrote everything by hand from scratch.

    • The Random One says:

      I agree, but I’d still like to play it. If it’s good it’ll prove us both wrong and show a new path for procedurally generated content. If it fails it’ll fail spectacularly and we’ll feel smug and watch it with morbid fascination.

    • Baines says:

      It is the opposite of traditional media murder mysteries as well.

      Sure, a well written fair mystery is designed that way, but I can’t think of a mystery that I’ve read or watched in the last several years that was either fair or particularly well written as a mystery.

      The catch for a procedural mystery is probably the repetition and simplicity. A regular mystery is a one-and-done affair. Procedural is designed for replay, but replay shows the repetition.

  7. ivorjetski says:

    Isn’t that randomly generated?