Review Fix: Why do you think noir is still an engaging genre?
Gabriele Papalini: I have always thought of Noir as a state of mind, rather than as only a literary or cinematographic genre. The crude narrative style and the strong introspection give both a very realistic experience and also a very particular point of view on things. While in mystery novels the question that keeps everything running is “Who?” (“Who is the murderer, the mystery man?” etc.), Noir novels seem to ignore this question altogether and focus on “Why?” (“Why has the victim been killed? Why has all of this happened?”) These questions don’t lead to an obsessive search for clues but to an analysis of the places and of the people involved, going beyond the appearances and digging deeper into the true nature of things. Several Noir novels are not only a narration of events, but also an analysis of the society of the time and of how people tried to survive to it. The fact that Noir is so deeply tied to social issues rather than to those of individuals is what makes this genre so modern, even today. The Big Sleep and Blade Runner are both considered to be Noir, even though there are more than 50 years between them.
Review Fix: Point and click games still have a large cult following, why do you think that is?
Papalini: Try asking a friend about the plot of The Fast and the Furious. Probably, after thinking for a while, he will tell you that there are two guys who race cars and that one of them is Vin Diesel. Try asking him the same question about the plot of Blade Runner or The Dark Knight and chances are that after half an hour he’ll still be there telling you all the details. That’s exactly why I think that graphic adventure games are unique: they leave an impression on you, you will never forget them and you will always carry a part of them in yourself. In fact, even those players that don’t particularly like the genre end up quoting dialogs from graphic adventure games in their forum signatures. (I guess a quote going “Bang bang bang, BOOM” wouldn’t impress the other users very much.) Bottom line, I think that graphic adventure games will always have a following since they represent an educational/cultural offering, before even being a videogame.
Review Fix: Point and click games rely on excellent narratives. What do you think makes your story stand out?
Papalini: When developing Face Noir our main objective was to create as good a game as possible (which wasn’t easy with no budget). Some developers try to create something original at all costs but I don’t think that this is necessary. One should create what they feel passionate about, what they are interested in or what they are knowledgeable about. We are passionate about the 30s, so we decided to set our game in that era. We live in Italy, a country that is going through a moral crisis on top of a financial one, and we decided to put this in our story as well. In conclusion, I think that a story’s originality doesn’t lie solely in its plot but also in the way it is told. If you think about Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino, it’s not the plot but the way it is told that makes it a masterpiece.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite part of the game?
Papalini: Picking a specific one is very hard but if I had to it would probably be the part when Jack meets Sean. For the entire game we tried to stay as faithful as possible to the Noir theme and only towards the end did we decide to deviate from it. This deviation will have a strong influence on Face Noir II. In fact, while this first game can be considered a true homage to Noir, in the second game we would like to venture into something different, moving away from the elements that characterize this genre.
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy it the most?
Papalini: Face Noir is not an action game: it has a slow rhythm, just like Raymond Chandler’s books do, and relies on dialog, exploration, and careful consideration. We hope that the more reflective players will enjoy it and we are pretty sure that the more action-liking ones won’t. Forgive us, but it is impossible to please everyone.