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Discworld Noir

Moby ID: 1411
Windows Specs

Description official descriptions

Ankh-Morpork is a city surrounded by darkness, where the cold river Ankh flows, where it always rains, and where dwarves and trolls co-exist with secret societies, religious fanatics, stupid police captains, and bar pianists. It is also where a bitterly sarcastic sharp-eyed private investigator named Lewton tries to earn a living solving bizarre cases. A mysterious woman named Carlotta hires him to find her lost lover. Wandering through the dark city and gathering evidence, Lewton has to solve the case, confront a sinister conspiracy, and once again become torn between love and despair.

Discworld Noir differs from other Discworld adventure games not only thanks to its more serious tone and much darker "film noir" atmosphere, but also because of its gameplay. Instead of inventory-based puzzles there are clues, which Lewton writes down in his notebook and which should be then used whenever there is a connection between the clue and the situation in question. Most of the gameplay is thus dedicated to detective work in conversations; but the usage of the right clues at the right place is still comparable to inventory-based puzzle-solving of other adventures. Graphically, Discword Noir features three-dimensional character models and pre-rendered backgrounds.

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Credits (Windows version)

104 People (90 developers, 14 thanks) · View all

Designed By
Produced By
Executive Producer
Script By
Voice Of Lewton
Other Characters Voiced By
Animation Director And Senior Animator
Technical Art Director
Background Design And Concept Art
Art Director
Character Design
Character Models
Background Artists
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 81% (based on 40 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 89 ratings with 7 reviews)

You can't just go around killing people whenever you want to. It's not polite.

The Good
This game was delightfully funny with its tongue-in-cheek kind of humor. I haven't played any of the other Discworld games, so I'm sure some of the jokes got by me, but there were plenty of things to chuckle about anyway.

If you've always wanted to know what to say to your favorite monster, you'll learn while playing Discworld Noir. Ghouls, goblins, werewolves, zombies, golems, vampires and dwarves lead ordinary, everyday lives (such that it can be in a place called Ankh-Morpork). Talking to them is loads of fun. My favorite character of the bunch was DEATH, complete with his dark cape and scythe. Listening to his replies had me in stitches. And I loved the spoof on Indiana Jones!

The story is engaging and keeps you interested with its twists and turns. It is not any different than some others - the case ends up much more complicated than the beginning missing persons case. Conversations are the key to everything in Discworld Noir. Luckily you can enable subtitles as well as spacebar through the dialogs if you want.

I applaud the voice actors and actresses for their outstanding performances throughout. You could tell some of them played various characters, but not many. They all had the most wonderful inflections and gave real personalities to each and every character they portrayed. (When the vampire, Samael, sings, listen to the lyrics of his song. They're delightful!)

The music was of the standard P.I. type such as you might hear in a Mike Hammer episode. It was mood enhancing and dramatic when needed. Sound effects were appropriate, too - rain falling, thunder and lightning as well as crashes and bangs.

The graphics are done up in cartoon style. The characters are depicted somewhat funky, in a cute sort of way. The graphic world and the characters blended well together to make the whole thing believable. You can brighten up the scenes with the "Gamma Correction" option, which is nice because they can be a bit dark.

The Bad
I had a bit of trouble getting the game to run. It wouldn't play at all on my Windows XP laptop, and played poorly on my desktop computer with Windows 98 installed. It kept asking for a file that didn't exist (dsetup.dll). Cancelling out of the error message let me open up the closed window again and play. Disabling all other programs running in the background (especially anti-virus) helped some of the problems I encountered - which were stuttering speech and music and a temporarily frozen cursor. (Too bad no patch was made which might have solved those problems.)

Conversations are so important in Discworld Noir, but the interface they designed to use was cumbersome. Finding topics in the PI journal by turning page after page after page was tedious to say the least.

The Bottom Line
I was persistent enough to finish Discworld Noir, suffering through the bugs and quirks, because the story was so good. It wasn't a short game either, and I enjoyed myself with it for about 5 days (playing almost constantly). It's a very good adventure game, and could have been great if the technical side had been more user friendly. As it stands, it is still a worthy play for any of you who enjoy adventure games.

Windows · by Jeanne (75977) · 2005

Innovatively Uninteresting

The Good
Okay, now if I say this game is boring, then that should qualify under 'against' section. Well, it's not that boring, it's just uninteresting. And innovate at that the best it could be. It just keeps making the game more and more interesting to you, changing the plots, adding nice twists and turns, adding interesting characters, suspenseful atmosphere, but but somehow, with all that effort, it just doesn't hook me right. But otherwise, I can't say I didn't have fun at all while playing it.

Right, so, the game has been set in the world a bit different than what we are used to see when it comes to noir things. It somewhat resembles a dark creepy eerie town where you will soon learn that nothing is impossible, and nothing happens as you expect. The city's called Ankh-Morpork (I guess Ankh because it can be considered a port to some point), and for a long time there is no rasistic things going on, and I'm not refering to different color, but rather to different races. So, humans, trolls, vampires, zombies, demons, werewolves, dwarves and other... something, they all live in symbiosis more or less. Of course, with creatures like those involved, they had to make a compromise in the law book, so they had to qualify murder as non-crime. Well, not always, it depended who and where was murdered.

You, with a background story that broke your heart, are the first guy ever to try to settle in the PI waters. Counting on restless and countless murders to get some case, you opened your door to everybody with a deep pocket. It's not that there is no law at all, there are, and they're called the Watch, but they just don't prove useful when it comes to solving plots, unravelling mysteries and saving the planet, or maybe they're just not paid enough. Lewton, PI, on the other hand, has nothing else to do, so he takes any case that will help him pay the rent (oh, how cliché).

Now, good thing about this game is that is has nothing to do with any of the two "Discworld" titles that were made before it. I know, I know, I didn't notice this game for far too long just because I thought it's all from the same chalice, but it's not. First two are more childish and much alike "Simon the Sorcerer", only not as good. This one is more serious, with typical PI phrases, eerie places and a bowl of suspense.

Music in this game is rather excellent, only there is not much of it in the entire game. Either I became deaf, or this game has no more than couple of songs in the entire playing period. Well, among those little bunch, it even has a vocal one, hehehe, and for those who have manuals, there are even words and notes for it. Graphic could also be considered well done, especially since it all looks as if it's using 256 colors. Well, maybe it does, I dunno, but places, rain&storm effects, and lighting effects are rather well done for something that looks as it lacks colors. Unfortunately, I can't say much about the characters, I mean, if they wanted them to look like that, then they were good, but I always tend to have normal looking human figures. As for the werewolves, dogs, trolls, demons and gargoyles, they were excellent made.

The Bad
Sound is... well, almost terrible. And I'm refering technically only. It has noises, and that's not acceptable for such a new game. I mean, even older games like "Indy IV" or "GK I" that used *.voc files for speech were like entirely clear in the game. Anyway, if you don't make it too loud, you may be able to skip the annoyance, at least you have both speech and subtitles in the game, which, by the way, I love to see in the game. As for the characters' speech, I don't consder it much good, either. I mean, it's somehow hollow, and it somehow clearly shows as if the conversastion was made that each of the characters was talking for itself, and they just mixed speech, not even trying to spot the right balance of conversation between the two (or three).

Controls should also be better handled. I mean, it not hard to master at all, but it takes an awfully lot of time using them as they invented it. I hope they didn't try just to prolongue the game by adding that. Sure, it's commendable to play full-screen without any menues, buttons or anything around or outside the frame, but commands just seem a bit too slow. And no, my computer wasn't slow for playing this plain adventure, with 384MB of RAM and 1GHz CPU, and solid 52x LG CD-ROM this should've all worked a bit better. Well, the game is from 1999, so if we take-out the time it was in development, they probably started making it two years earlier. But hey, I'm not complaining... that much, I could play with such interface, I'm just saying I've seen much better with some other adventures. This sure beats the crap outta that sticky "Myst" interface which was sad fact to be called an interface in the first place.

On the technical side, there are two things that are rather annoying. First one is that you always need to start the game with CD #1, not matter you stopped somewhere on second CD, and that switching CDs usually exits you back into windowses by minimizing the game window, so you have to click on it again. I really don't see the point of making that, and if they programmed such a fine game, I don't think they had lack of knowledge to fix that, either. And secondly, the game doesn't have usual subdirectory in 'Programs' pop-up window where you can click uninstall icon. No siree. You need to input CD #1 again, and click uninstall form there, and then wait and wait until it reads whatever its reading from a CD first. Well, we can't have 'em all, huh? Yeah right ;)

The Bottom Line
Detective game at its best, with half included things at its worst. Good enough to make you finish it nonetheless. Can't say it's addictive, but maybe I've just played too much adventures to be impressed anymore, hehehe. But it sure beats those "Discworld" games with which it only has title in common. And no matter what I said above for and against, I still think this is a pretty fine game, and glad to paid for it 35 bucks, even though so recently... ouch! :)

Windows · by MAT (240068) · 2012

Decent game with bad interface

The Good
1999 saw the release of two adventure games that blended Film Noir with other genres. Grim Fandango was a fantastic mix of Film Noir, art deco and Mexican Day of the Dead. Discworld Noir blends Noir with medieval fantasy, which is perhaps a little less original but still entertaining. There's just something funny about a private eye in a trench coat and fedora working a city of pirates and dwarves and trolls. The voice acting in Discworld Noir is thankfully excellent (there's a lot of voiceover) and the artwork and overall atmosphere is dead-on Film Noir. As far as actual gameplay, the game introduces an innovative dialogue system that lets you use the notes you've taken in your detective's notebook to question NPCs.

The Bad
I realize and appreciate the fact that everyone has a different sense of humor. That said, I have to confess that I didn't find much of the humor in Discworld Noir all that funny. It's not that it's tasteless or offensive or anything...it just falls flat. It falls short of being groaningly un-funny and settles into a place where you can comfortably ignore the fact that the jokes even exist.

The interface is clunky and really shows the game's roots as a PSX title. The traditional inventory-interaction of almost all adventure games is present, but calling up your inventory and interacting with objects is a bit of a pain. The most frustrating aspect of Discworld Noir is that it requires the worst kind of screen trolling (moving your mouse around the screen looking for objects with which you can interact) - the hotspots don't stand out or change color or glow in any way when you mouse over them. There is a (plain white text) popup label for each item, but they are extremely easy to miss.

The Bottom Line
Bottom line: it's no Grim Fandango, but the story is cohesive and compelling enough to keep you interested and some of the puzzles are pretty good.

Windows · by Kurt Sample (1071) · 2001

[ View all 7 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
'no US release' ? Rola (8486) Mar 29, 2015
Awesome stuff Unicorn Lynx (181794) Feb 23, 2009

Trivia

References

  • In the middle of the game, you meet a red-haired archaeologist girl, who carries a lot of ammunition, wears shorts and is called Laredo Cronk...
  • Some of the detective things in this game are taken from Murder, My Sweet (1944), a P.I. Noir movie with Dick Powell playing Philip Marlowe (later a remake with Robert Mitchum was made, the title was renamed to Farewell, My Lovely, though). Lewton says "If I'd always knew what I said, I'd be a genius." which is exact phrase from the fore-mentioned movie. Also, there is a detective Nulty in both game and the movie, with same attitude of main character towards him.

References: Casablanca

There are plenty of references to famous noir films in Discworld Noir. Many of them allude to the classic Casablanca. For example, the game's romantic ending mirrors the ending of the film to the point of directly quoting the dialogue. Just as the heroes of the movie agree that they will "always have Paris", Lewton assures Ilsa that they will "always have Pseudopolis Hotel".

The demon pianist Samael is named after Sam, the pianist from Casablanca. There is the following dialogue in the game:

Lewton: Play it again, Sam.

Samael: You know what? No one's ever going to believe you said that.

As fans of the movie would know, the line "Play it again, Sam" was never actually said in Casablanca, but has become erroneously associated with it.

Ilsa Varberg is named after Ilsa Lund, the heroine of Casablanca. Lund and Varberg are both cities in Sweden.

Release

The game was only released in Europe because the US branch of GT Interactive had financial problems and collapsed, dashing hopes of a US release.

Awards

  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/2000 – Best Adventure in 1999

Information also contributed by Macintrash, MAT and Unicorn Lynx

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Zhentarim7.

PlayStation added by Macintrash.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 4, 2000. Last modified September 14, 2023.