Savor the Coffee in Pixel Noir

RPG mechanics, the supernatural, and a dark detective story mingle deliciously in SWDTech Games' Pixel Noir.

One of my great shames is that, during the period when I played any and all RPGs that hit the SNES, I somehow missed out on Shadowrun. For whatever reason, I just never found a copy in the wild, and I never got to experience the game for myself. Still, I’ve always liked the idea of the modern RPG, especially one with a noir setting filled with street gangs and mystery. So, when I walked past the booth for SWDTech Games’ Pixel Noir, my feet pretty much walked me over to the booth without asking my permission.

It’s a twisted detective story, starting you right off with a good old double cross to get the ball rolling. Taking a deal that’s a little too good to be true, the detective lead of the game soon finds himself in trouble with all the wrong people. Getting into that trouble was fun, though, as the game plays out as an RPG with an isometric view. Fans of the older Fallout games will feel right at home here.

I was given a simple set of commands to choose from on the tablet I was playing on. I had a selection of attacks, one of which cost me some sort of ability points that recharged after every fight. Choosing the costly attacks dealt a lot more damage, but required that I tap the enemy the moment two crosshairs matched up, dealing damage based on how well they lined up. Even at my worst it still dealt extra damage, though, and I love timed button presses in my RPGs.

Still, it was the appearance of horrific creatures that got the horror fan in me all excited. The detective suffered from some sort of massive wave of pain at the demo’s end, falling to his knees while his enemies all turned into masses of colored flesh, tentacles, and mouths. It was a gross effect – one I hadn’t been expecting at all – and firmly grabbed my attention. Not only was I getting a neat noir storyline, but something in the detective’s past was lending the game a bit of a horror feel as well.

The music tied it all together neatly, with work on that done by Kunal Majmudar, someone whose work you might be familiar with if you’ve listened to some of his OverClocked Remixes. He does a great job here setting the tone, something that should have been a lot harder to do with the din of a busy show floor behind me. It’s a smooth soundtrack from what I’ve heard so far, setting an ambient mood for a bleak world, and I am curious where the sound will go from here.

The game is hitting all the right notes for me, so I’m hoping that its Kickstarter meets with some success and we see a full release of the game sometime soon. It’s a unique game in this era of the pixel RPG revival, and I’d like to see how things turn out.

Joel Couture
Joel Couture
Joel Couture

MASH Veteran

A horror-obsessed gamer, Joel is still spending his days looking for something to scare himself as much as Fatal Frame. Even so, he has ridiculous action games and obscure gems to keep him happy in the meantime. A self-proclaimed aficionado of terrible retro games, he's always looking for a rotten game he hasn't played yet, and may be willing to exchange information for candy.

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