A Tennessee Waltz: Hot Tin Roof

Jazz! It’s JK Simmons’ weapon of choice and it helped him on the road to Oscar glory. Noir! It’s shadows, killer quips and Walter Neff’s final cigarette. Cats! Invented as part of an early marketing campaign for AOL, cats became the most popular of the internet’s many fictional characters. Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora [official site] neatly combines jazz, noir and cats, and after playing briefly over the weekend, I can confirm that the combination is rather satisfying. A tasty jazz-noir cat-tale.

It’s a sidescrolling game that uses a gun as the main form of interaction with the world, but its origins are in point and click rather than point and shoot. The dialogue is snappy, witty and weird, and the world is a delightful creation. I’ve only played through the first case, which introduces the basics of crime-solving. To catch a criminal, it seems you’ll mostly be wandering from one location to another, chattering with suspects and victims, and using various types of ammunition to solve puzzles. Bubble bullets, for instance, clean away dirt, revealing hidden objects.

Part of the game’s humour involves jokes about the ludicrous nature of the world’s logic but it’s daubing graffiti on the fourth wall rather than knocking it down. Hardboiled graffiti.

There’s been no explanation as to why my PI sidekick is a cat so far and I hope there never is. I was particularly pleased to find that other detectives have cats by their side as well. It seems sensible.

Successfully Kickstarted in 2013, Hot Tin Roof is part way between the slapstick of Jazzpunk and a more traditional comedic adventure game. I don’t expect it to be particularly challenging or long-lived – and the style of its music and writing isn’t quite backed up by the art style – but I’ll definitely be going back for more. Maybe it’s just the combination of puzzles and noir, but happy memories of Grim Fandango bubbled up in my mind as I was playing last night. There’s a sorrowful and sentimental strain behind the silliness, and that’s exactly the kind of music that I like to hear.

3 Comments

  1. RARARA says:

    It looked quite charming the last time I saw it. You manually reload your revolver!

  2. heretic says:

    Sounds great, looking forward to the WIT

  3. lokimotive says:

    I backed this, downloaded it on Friday, and finished on Sunday. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but, boy, does it have pluck. I’m not sure how far Adam got from the article as there isn’t really a ‘first case’ per se, though the world does open up after some initial investigation. Once that happens things start to get a little loose, and there were points where it seemed I skipped over something important, (or, perhaps I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been).

    As the game progresses, it gets a bit Meat Circus-ey. The pleasant but unambitious platforming that was in the background becomes front and center for awhile, and you’re going to have to start making jumps and maneuvers with a lot more accuracy. When that happens I needed to switch from gamepad to keyboard and mouse, which may seem counter-intuitive, but the game starts demanding that you jump, aim, and fire with a fair amount of accuracy, and the gamepad set-up, I found, doesn’t really allow for that. In addition, there are the occasional bugs, an annoyances. The manual revolver loading, although fun, does get rather cumbersome, especially as you’ll need multiple different kinds of bullets to go through certain puzzles. A bit spoiler-y, but I should point out that, although it seems that you need to manually reload ALWAYS, this is not the case. There’s a character in the game who will give you a tip on reloading, though you can figure it out yourself as, well. Like other things, though, it would be nice if the game revealed this in a better fashion.

    In the end, though, it’s a great experience. The world is surprisingly deep, and it touches on some dark, noir-ish, subjects in its own fashion. I’m very happy that I backed it, and I’m glad it exists. I’m hoping this gets enough attention for Megan Fox and Glass Bottom Games to move upwards and onwards, I’d love to see what they come up with next.

    Also, the music is excellent, a great combination of chip-tunes and jazz that works much better than it really should.