Tales of the Neon Sea promises point-and-click policing

Tales of the Neon Sea

It may not have been anywhere near perfect, but 1997’s Blade Runner point-and-click adventure left me with an itch that no game has scratched in decades. My latest hope is Tales of the Neon Sea, a cyberpunk noir detective adventure from Zodiac Interactive.

So far signs are good. It’s got a brooding synth soundtrack, a dystopian sci-fi cityscape, a trenchcoat-clad detective and some sort of giant cyborg grim reaper lurking in a future city’s sewer system. Within, a great many pretty neon pixels arranged in the form of a moody debut trailer.

Murder, mystery and menace abounds. The pixel art is lovely, of course. While there’s no combat shown, it looks like there’s at least some danger involved in your investigation, with the protagonist wounded and clutching at his side for a good chunk of the trailer. Hopefully this doesn’t mean Sierra-style death around every corner, but at least we have autosaves and merciful undo buttons these days, so there’s less need to completely crush a player’s soul.

My one real concern about the game is the writing. Publisher Zodiac Interactive are a Chinese outfit, and while the game is developed by Palm Pioneer, Zodiac include it in their list of Chinese-developed games on show this year at PAX. It’s not an easy language to translate into English at the best of times.

Combine that with the added complications of channeling a noir thriller vibe, the detail-oriented scripting of a detective story and the complexities of the cyberpunk setting and you’ve got a potential recipe for disaster, script-wise. I hope I’m wrong though. Great thing about being pessimistic is that when you’re wrong, it’s always a reason to smile.

Tales of the Neon Sea is due out sometime this Summer, although Zodiac haven’t got a date quite pinned down yet.


  1. Nimdok says:

    The protagonist’s face looks like he’s wearing a domino mask, and now for some reason I now want there to be gritty reboot of The Spirit starring someone like Clint Eastwood, since Adam West is dead.

  2. KillahMate says:

    Well, The Last Night is coming soon, so we have that to look forward to as far as side-view Blade Runner riffs are concerned.

    • Seraph says:

      As long as they keep being good, I’ll take all the pixely cyberpunk adventures developers can deliver. ‘Last Night’ looks awesome, but ‘Neon Sea’ also looks gorgeous and interesting in its own way.

  3. Kollega says:

    I legitimately wonder if this game is going to have anything meaningful to say within the cyberpunk genre or its vicinity. I only ask because the city I live in is a startling real-life example of “high tech, low life” – and it’s not even in the United States. So it really blows when in games, “cyberpunk” is reduced to “cyber-oh-look-neon-and-guns-and-synth-soundtrack!”, with little to none of oh-so-needed social commentary to be seen. (Hell, if you ask me, we need more cyberpunk works with a revolutionary sentiment… but I understand this is literally too much to ask for these days, as far as most writers are concerned.)

    • poliovaccine says:

      Out of curiosity, why do you say that? About a statement of revolution being too much to ask of writers these days? Not that I even disagree, in the sense that revolution is never just an individual affair, so one lone book will at best stand by waiting til it’s discovered by the right crowd or something… but I’m curious about your reasoning? Since I expect it’s probably something else than what I’m thinking of.

      • Kollega says:

        What I meant by my statement is that asking for revolutionary sentiment today is “literally too much” because the Anglo-American world (which makes, like, 70-to-80% of video games) is currently in the grip of “there really is no alternative, the world can’t be made any better, and nothing I can do matters” propagandistic myth, and by now I know that people would rather shelter themselves in iddifference rather than try something as radical as giving a damn.

        If you need proof, it is lying dead over there look at any time when RPS brings up big world issues in connection to video games.

        On a tangential side note, this is also why I deplore the “cyberpunk” games where you spend 90% of gameplay time selling out to The Man. You may have seen a few here and there.

  4. Dave Mongoose says:

    What about Gemini Rue? That was an excellent cyberpunk point-and-click.