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Discworld Noir

The Discworld is a large flat world. The reason it does not fall down is that it is resting on the backs of four rather large elephants. The elephants do not fall down because they are standing on the back of the giant star turtle, the Great A'Tuin. Discworld is a magical place, literally and is full of interesting characters such as Rincewind, the Wizzard who is probably the greatest expert the universe has ever known at running away. Characters such a Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, who will sell you anything, even if he doesn't actually own it. Characters like Death, a seven foot tall skeleton who likes cats and curries, although not necessarily at the same time.

The strange thing is that all the characters that inhabit the Discworld are funny. I don't mean funny peculiar, although most of them are, but funny ha ha. There are one or two characters who you would not like to cross, such as the Patrician, or Granny Weatherwax, or the Count de Magpyr, or the Assassins Guild, but in general even they bring at least a smile to your lips. Although it might be wise to make sure that the smile only occurs when you are alone, in a dark room and wearing a bag on your head.

Our Hero in His Office

Enough of the background. Tell us about the game!

The game. Well the first thing you notice is that it is very different from the previous two Discworld adventures. Oh it has the same sort of interface, and it's set in Ankh-Morpork. It even has a couple of the regular Discworld characters. But the story is much darker than all the other Discworld outings. The story is you basic Private Investigator story - Our hero, Lewton, is asked by a beautiful woman, Carlotta, to find her 'friend' Mundy. Which of course he does, and then his troubles really start. Needless to say you take the part of Lewton, who is your typical hard boiled PI, except for the fact he does not have a secretary. Like all PIs he is an ex-cop, or rather ex-watch, and his 'girl friend' left him a long time ago. He also makes a lot of wise cracks and is quite happy to bend the law when it suits him. As I said earlier the basic plot is find Mundy, which you do fairly quickly. Then the fun really starts. Which is all I'm going to tell you about the plot so as not to spoil it.

Well in that case how do you play it?

With the mouse of course. :-)

Watch it

Carlotta, one of the suspects

Sorry. The interface is the usual simple point and click type. Unusually the cursor does not change when moving over a hot spot, but a label does appear. If you right click you get information, while left clicking does something, such as picking up an object. If the cursor is over a person then left clicking will talk to that person. After the initial conversation an option box will be displayed. This box will allow you make small talk (click on the icon of Lewton's face), chose from a list of subjects, or access the inventory or Lewton's note book. The note book is by far the most useful of all. When ever you find out anything of importance it will automatically be noted down in the note book. At the same time a small graphic of a quill pen writing in a book will appear in the top left of the screen. When you are talking to some one selecting an entry from the note book will cause Lewton to ask about that subject. If you select something from the inventory while you are talking to some one Lewton will either ask about the object or give it to the person.

You can of course access your inventory at anytime simply by pressing the F2 key. F3 will show you the note book, while F1 brings up the options menu for things like saving the game. To put things into the inventory just double click on them. To use an item, select the inventory and click on the item. The cursor will then change to include the item. Just click on what ever you want to use the item on. Simple, but effective.

Rodin, A Sculpture

Moving from location to location is pretty standard for a Discworld game. When you leave a location you are shown a map of Ankh-Morpork with all the places you have found highlighted. To go to a specific location just click on it. Incidentally when you find out about a new place a small picture appears in the top right corner to alert you to the fact.

So it's easy to play, but what does it look like?

Well not so long ago I would have said that the graphics were stunning, but these days the graphics for most games are so good that we have come to expect very high quality. Probably the most noticeable thing about the graphics is that it is dark, and raining. Actually in some cases it is almost too dark and it can be a little bit difficult to see what is going on, but that just adds to the atmosphere of the game. And in any case there is always enough light to see everything you have to. Mind you sometimes you have to make do with the lightening, but there really no excuse for falling on to the river Ankh. [And if you thought I meant in to the river Ankh then you obviously haven't read enough about the Discworld.]

Newton talking to an Informer

The characters all look like I feel they should do, that is the Tolls look Trollish, the Elves look Elvish, and Carlotta has nice.... Well lets just say she has something in common with Laura Croft :). The characters also move convincingly even when they are not actually doing anything.

OK. It sounds good so far, but what about the puzzles?

The first Discworld game upset a lot of people because the puzzles were too hard and very illogical. At least they were illogical only if you didn't think the way someone who has lived their whole life on the Discworld thought. Personally I found the puzzles hard, but once I had worked them out I felt they did fit the sprit of the game. Of course it helped that I had read all the Discworld books. I have read all the ones written since then as well, and they are of absolutely no help with Discworld Noir. That's not to say that the puzzles are illogical or hard, because they are not. But they are the sort of puzzles you might get in any adventure game about a Private Investigator on any world. For example, how do you get on the Ship? How do you get into the warehouse? Just what language is the message written in? and so on. As for difficulty, I personally found them to be fairly easy. There were a couple of times when I had to stop and have a cup of coffee before I could continue, but on the whole I didn't find this to be a difficult game.

Look I don't like reading long reviews, so how about a summary?

A summary, OK, how's this - Discworld Noir is an excellent game with a good story, excellent characters and an interesting plot. The graphics are good and the puzzles are reasonable, but might be a little easy for the experienced gamer. This game is much darker and has a different type of humour to Terry Pratchett's novels and the first two games so some Discworld fans might be disappointed. Personally I consider myself to be a bit of Discworld fan and I like it. I think that Discworld Noir opens up a new view of the Discworld which is just as interesting as Terry Pratchett's. In fact I can, and do, recommend this game to both Discworld fans and lovers of Private Investigator stories, as well as those of you who like adventure games.