In the world of the hidden object genre, Big Fish Games is, well, the big fish in the pond. With an extensive library, it’s likely that some titles are going to sink while others will rise above the rest. Noir Chronicles: City of Crime is Big Fish’s latest release, and there are some areas where it sets itself apart from other hidden object games. At other times, though, it comes off a little flat.
The plot is simple as hidden object games go. Players step into the shoes of private investigator Alfred Fox. When his old flame, Baraba Le Purr, is murdered, Fox sets out to catch her killer. Along the way, he ends up on the wrong side of the law and has to prove his innocence. It’s a tale right out of a Raymond Chandler pulp detective novel, and the game really runs the gamut of old mystery story tropes. This isn’t necessarily to the game’s detriment, however. Fans of the detective genre will get a good chuckle or two out of some of the obvious clichés, while the most casual player will feel right at home among the greasy dive bars and dark, shadowy alleyways.
Anyone looking for something akin to Big Fish’s Mystery Legends of Campfire Tales series will be a little disappointed. Noir Chronicles isn’t scary or tense, but it is rich in atmosphere.
What might help keep players intrigued when the plot starts running a little thin lies in the look and feel of the game itself. As hidden objects games are based mostly on visuals, they need to be engaging to the eye. Thanks to some truly impressive artwork, Noir Chronicles never feels boring. Each location to be investigated is drawn and animated with all the feel of the noir genre. While the facial animation and spotty voice acting is lacking to the point of entering the realm of the uncanny valley, Noir Chronicles works around this by not focusing too much on its cut scenes. And really, that’s what a hidden object game should be—simple and focused on the objective.
The hidden object puzzles in the game aren’t too difficult. Even on the highest setting, there’s really no skill involved aside from patience. While the game does offer an unpleasant stalling surprise for anyone who gets too click-happy, players need only take their time and look carefully to progress through each puzzle. The development team also added some dynamic interactions in order to keep the hidden object aspect from becoming tedious, although after the first few puzzles there’s really no challenge to be found in looking for a hidden spool of thread or a screwdriver.
Anyone returning to the world of hidden object gaming might be impressed to find that Noir Chronicles also adds more aside from the hide-and-seek gameplay. Mini-games are peppered throughout. Some are more engaging than others, although the addition of three similar puzzles that involved undoing a series of rope knots does grow to be repetitive. There is also one evasion puzzle towards the end that feels quite sloppy, but other than that, the mini-games add a nice touch to an already solid experience.
There aren’t a lot of extras packed into this game, which some might find disappointing. But again, it’s to be expected with a hidden object game. A full playthrough of the main story opens up a bonus chapter set in Fox’s past; there are a few concept sketches, the option to explore the game’s many “crime scenes” and the chance to re-watch the cut scenes. Other than that, there’s really nothing worth sticking around for after getting through the main game, and with so many hidden object games in Big Fish’s library, chances are a player will move right along to something else.
Players looking for an atmosphere-heavy throwback to pulpy detective stories will find something to enjoy in Noir Chronicles: City of Crime. While it isn’t anything groundbreaking in the hidden object genre, there’s still enough diversity to the gameplay to keep it from being boring during the scant several hours it takes to get through the story proper. Although the animation and voice-over work can be a bit jarring, Noir Chronicles plays to its strengths. More time in the act of letting players search for clues and work through a series of interesting mini-games as opposed to telling any kind of riveting story.
Noir Chronicles: City of Crime was developed by Brave Giant Studio and published by Big Fish Games. It is available on iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac and PC.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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