Calvino Noir - Review

Calvino Noir was released on the 27th of August 2015 on the Playstation 4, Steam and iOS. The game screens caught my attention and tweaked an olden day Dick Tracey vibe. The screen shots looked nice and Calvino Noir, regardless of the fact that I had no idea what the games title meant, I was interesting in taking this one for a test drive.

I downloaded the Steam version to run through on my PC. What I got was a black and white piece of art. The game looks beautiful regardless of its monochromatic appearances. It succeeds in creating "artiful" graphics similar to games of the past such as Limbo and Badlands. 

Calvino Noir is a point and click style game which is a little bit counter intuitive because the game almost presents itself as something I would usually feel that full character control would have been the preferred method. On PC, my first instinct was to use the W,A,S,D keys to move around, but those didn't work. The game is solely controlled with the use of the mouse. I have heard about controller support on PC, but I couldn't manage to get one to work.

Calvino Noir is a gritty film noir style side scrolling game which sets off in 1930's Vienna, Austria. You play as the main character Wilt who is a "Scrambler" or thief/spy/private inspector for hire. The game starts off where you are offered a job by an old friend named Siska, to steal some secret documents from Town Hall with the help of "The Mole" to help expose a dirty official. Things don't go according to plan which opens up a whole mess for you to try to fix throughout the rest of the game.

Later on you will meet up with another friend named Arno who is a master of using machinery. This is where the main game mechanic begins to show. You will gain the ability to switch from character to character similar somewhat to games like Trine. You will need to swap out your characters to use their unique abilities. For example, Wilt is the only character that is able to take down guards, Arno can't fight but can fix and operate machines, and not too far into the game you will also gain control of Siska who can pick locked doors for you without the use of a key. This mechanic of the game is cause for some fun when solving puzzles, but can also grow old when you attempt to click on a goal or objective, often giving the message "We should all be here for this", prompting you to move the other characters within a very small vicinity to move on. Often I had character seemingly only a couple of metres away on the same screen, and I still couldn't progress unless I moved the others just that tiny bit closer. Further to the controls, the inability to control all of the characters simultaneously also is a frustration. This causes you to have to change to each character to get them to move to the same location. These nuisances don't break the game, but alternative control here would be appreciated.

The control mechanics are simple and at very least work well enough. However there are several moments of frustration that will set in when trying to take out guards. Lining up your character to hide behind stairs can be hard when trying to pounce out at the right moment for an attack. I was often forced to run away from the enemy before moving towards them giving the enemy that crucial extra second that they needed to get a shot off and kill me.

Typical of a lot of indie style games these days, the story is where the most interest lies in making you want to keep coming back for more. The plot thickens as you unfold the mystery of what lays within the documents that you stole at the start of the game. You will be met with stealth espionage, loose action, deceit and betrayal. You won't be blown away with the game play here but with excellent voice acting and an engaging story narrative you should be in for a decent length game which will leave you satisfied and pleased to have played it.

I enjoyed my time with Calvino Noir and I urge those who think they will like it, to try it out because you probably will.

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