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.