Have You Played… Discworld Noir?
Noir we're talking
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
The daft fantasy world of Terry Pratchett saw only a few videogame adaptations, most of them forgettable adventure games following cowardly wizard Rincewind. But with Discworld Noir (again a point and click adventure) the source material got something worthy – a parody of hard-boiled detective fiction within a parody of fantasy.
It has its share of point and click faults, of course, as any game in the dying days of 1999 would have. Instead of puzzles the game was mostly made up of interviewing suspects or witnesses, and the game would jot down clues for you in your notebook. You could then apply these notes to others as a kind of cross-examination, which led to more notebook clues but also prompted other things to occur, events or changes in scenery often unrelated to what you were doing, in areas half the city away. I remember having to jaunt around the gloom of Ankh-Morpork, going from scene to scene in a search for an unsaid line, an overlooked question in a packed notebook. It could be a slog, and I still remember the moment I discovered you could skip straight out of a scene by double-clicking the exit. I was elated. I hadn’t played many adventure games before.
But what redeemed the plodding pace and incessant backtracking was the writing, funny and quick, throwing a stack of Chandlerisms into the grubby world of magical universities and hard-nosed city watchmen, like this line John previously pointed out in a Eurogamer retrospective: "The river Ankh - probably the only river in the universe on which you could chalk the outline of a corpse."