Noir Continues to Inspire Some of the Gaming Industry’s Most Immersive Releases

April 13, 2020 by  
Filed under News

The femme fatale. The gumshoe. The mystery and red herrings. The contrast between light and dark – all used as visual aesthetic and character metaphor. Noir, whether it’s in novels, comics, cinema or video games, is strictly governed by convention; individual stories are enlivened by the teller’s ambiguous motivation. Playful in narration, unhurried in plot, and never bound by a requirement to restore the equilibrium, noir is as satisfied wallowing in familiar tropes as it is in leaving loose ends untied.

This ultra-stylized form of storytelling with its immersive, grandiose narrative has made it prime hunting ground for video game developers. Indeed, we’ve seen some of the most popular console games find inspiration in noir and neo-noir. Most recently, the classically 2D-animated Katana ZERO prompted Time Magazine to list it in its best games of 2019. Others such as Under A Killing Moon, Grim Fandango, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and Max Payne have become popular entries in this absorbing genre.

Certainly, one of the best remains L.A. Noire. It was developed by Team Bondi and released originally in 2011 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. With its setting during the heyday of film noir in Hollywood, the player roams an open-world Los Angeles in 1947 to solve cases and progress the story.

From a third-person perspective the protagonist – Cole Phelps, an LAPD officer – has to shoot or chase (often in a car) villains in order to discover a wider mystery. The game’s cinematic visuals lend themselves well to the genre, capturing the familiar look and feel of traditional noir with the shady, secretive characters you’d expect to find.

Source: Pexels

Diverse Gameplay

Nintendo’s 2017 release for Switch, This Is The Police, is another popular game amongst players. Using real-time management, police chief Jack Boyd is tasked with making $500,000 before he retires in six months.

Players must navigate the requirements of the job, like dealing with an armed robbery and devising how many officers need to attend. Depending on the outcome, Boyd can earn a cash bonus or potentially lose money if crimes aren’t prevented.

Another noir-inspired release that has drawn in iGaming players is the 5-reel slots game Lady in Red. Featuring 3 rows and 25 paylines, Lady in Red gives the femme fatale her time in the spotlight with developers Microgaming capturing the live atmosphere of a night club locale from which players seek the eponymous lounge singer’s image to double their prize.

Underlining noir’s appeal, Lady in Red is one of a number of slot titles regularly found on online casinos, including Jack Hammer, Shadow Diamond Noir, and The Big Chase.

Noir Gets New Life In Video Games

Gareth Monk, writing on says video games have given noir new life. He relates how the diversity of gameplay has, alongside stylized, immersive worlds, lent itself to the sprawling narratives of classic noir and its more contemporary guise, neo-noir. Indeed, whether it is point-and-click adventure, third-person open world or even vintage 2D, the genre’s satisfying mix of mystery and resolution is perfect for the imaginations of game developers.