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Under The Whiskey Way: Space Noir

'The city was lit up bright like a cooked goose wrapped in Christmas lights. Then I realized that geese went extinct 140 years ago and got sad'

If you think about it, space is kind of the perfect setting for a noir-influenced piece of media. I mean, it’s perpetually nighttime out there, and even in series like Battlestar Galactica where scarcity of resources was a prime concern, they always managed to have bottomless wells of whiskey handy. Give me some dingy, grease-stained sci-fi architecture and a gravel-voiced hero with a world space-weary slump in his shoulders, and you’ve got a recipe for, um… a videogame. In this case, that game is the creatively named Space Noir. Well, mostly. Trailer below.

Well, it looks nice enough, even if the main character’s only line was delivered less with acerbic noir wit and more as though the actor was trying out for the part of Grouchy Rhino Number Three in the next Madagascar movie. I worry that the story could devolve into a generic space epic given that “noir” is a very loose term in gaming these days, but we’ll see.

But what about ship-versus-ship ker-zappery? Its primary influences are Wing Commander and X-Wing, apparently, so that’s a good sign – even if Deus Ex: The Fall developer N-Fusion’s track record is a little… spotty.

“Evoking all time classics for the space combat genre including Wing Commander and X-Wing, Space Noir includes intense ship-to-ship combat, boss battles and high-octane planetary combat missions, challenging players reaction times and piloting skills. Players can customize their ship with upgradeable weapons, defenses, unlockable special maneuvers and cosmetic upgrades to traverse the galaxy within an intensely dark storyline.”

Intensely dark. That is also a Ghirardelli chocolate flavor.

Missions will also be intense, and there’ll be 35 of them. Main character Hal Markham begins the game as a drunken layabout mercenary mourning the mysterious death of his family, so at least this one seems to know its noir tropes. And then space pirates strike.

But again, N-Fusion isn’t exactly a bastion of little-known masterpieces, and – perhaps more troublingly – this one is also being developed with tablets in mind. That doesn’t have to mean it won’t be great, but history shows us that it sometimes does anyway.

Space Noir will be out this summer. I do hope they package it with a free handle of space whiskey.

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Nathan Grayson

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