REVIEW: CALVINO NOIR

Calvino Noir is a stunning mix of beautiful scenery, well-spoken voice acting and addictive story telling; Set in 1930s Europe. It’s a game that combines both the side scrolling platform genre with the much needed and well-loved movie art style and no one can dislike. Yet, what seems like the ideal game for people such as myself does have its short comings.

We follow Wilt, a man with a background in crime and espionage. On receiving a phone call from a woman we is set out on what seems like a simple job that turns sour; unravelling a more intriguing plot. Our main man of mystery can sneak, run, hide in specific locations and knock out guards, a skill that become useful; not just for making your way around but for also clearing large rooms in order to run back and forth quickly as the game does require backtracking at times and can sometimes slow the pacing down quite a lot.

Then we have our comrades, giving the game more range as our team mates provide other skills required to complete each level. First is Arno a fellow whom we assume has history with Wilt and his career in the underworld, who’s skill is the ability to ‘work machinery’ and later we are joined by Siska, the only character in this game to not be voiced by actors with the aspiration to have a voice that could compete with the likes of Morgan Freeman. Her skill is to pick locks, creating the choice of whom to use first in each level.

This does however create a slight problem as choosing which character to use is only achieved by pressing one icon that simply scrolls through your roster rather than selecting one of a few small icons relating to a specific person. Alternatively for players on PC I would have liked to just use a number on my keyboard.

Regardless of Wilts particular set of skills the gameplay is sometimes hindered by its execution as this is a game of ‘click-click-click’ to have him run or walk slowly to the location you wish him to go. Not only that, each character is controlled separately and must reach the destination before the task is complete, again slowing down the pace of the game.

When making your way through each level, you’ll often find yourself falling into the slight panic when missing a mark if you want to hide or other tasks, that fact that hide icons appear only when close to places you can do so and opening doors are shown the same way can sometimes cause a bit of trouble. There were times I had Wilt Run quickly to a hide spot only to miss the icon and mash my mouse of the small eye button that makes him do so. Other times I would ask Wilt to knock out a guard as I get closer to one only for a door icon to appear and overlap what I want; either shutting or opening one to reveal my location and ending up with a bullet being sent my way. This game is available on touch screen devices though so I do wonder if control is a lot easier on those formats.

Despite its short comings in control and pacing, this game really is beautiful. The architecture and lighting really creates atmosphere I’ve not seen in a pc game since the likes of Discworld or that old mystery, spy game set on the Titanic where interviewing passengers was the key to unravelling stories of betrayal, heartbreak and conspiracy. The voice acting also has the same feel as the black and white background and comic like text is lifted with superb dialogue you would also see in classic mystery games. The stereotypical German voice of the character ‘the mole’ put a smile on my face as I haven’t heard such a voice since the guards and commandants of the prisoner of war game, another stealth based mystery game I recommend to anyone who likes Calvino Noir.

7/10

+ Scenery and lighting is perfect

+ Characters and setting builds atmosphere

+ Voice acting is brilliant

– Pacing can be slow

– Character control slows game

– Control symbols overlap creating confusion.

Stephen Jillings

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