Since I spent much of my childhood watching my mother play endless point-and-click adventures on her Windows XP computer, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that I have a weakness for the genre. For me, there’s nothing quite like wandering around a new world trying to find the single snippet of information that will uncover the mystery and open up a litany of possibilities, puzzles and problems for you to resolve.
So you can imagine my delight when I discovered the Nine Noir Lives, a murder mystery about cats with a literal taste for solving crimes. Developers Williams Kruger and Daniel Lowes spent five years and a lot of their own money to perfect the first game published under their new independent studio, Silvernode Games. After spending many days with their initial offering, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be looking forward to their next.
Title: Nine Noir Lives
Developer: Silvernode Studios
Publisher: Silvernode Games
Genre: Point-and-click adventure, puzzles, indie, story-driven
Platforms: PC (Windows, Mac and Linux)
Review copy provided by Silvernode Games
What to Expect From Nine Noir Lives
Nine Noir Lives is a point-and-click adventure game starring a diverse cast of colourful felines set in the crime-ridden city of Meow Meow Furrington. Playing as the hapless private investigator Cuddles Nutterbutter and his indispensable assistant, Tabby Marshmellow, you will need to investigate a murder that threatens to kick off a mob war between the cities two major crime families.
The majority of the game is played as Cuddles during the night but when the sun comes up, you’ll switch to investigating as Tabby while she researches the next set of clues at unique locations that won’t be found on the map like the University Library or Poor Bee’s Costume Shop. By swapping between the two members of Nutterbutter Investigations, you get to see wildly differing perspectives on the situations and characters that you encounter.
Explore the various locations on the map, collecting a wide variety of items and solving puzzles and you’ll start to uncover the many secrets the city cats have tried to so hard to hide.
The mechanics are very easy to get to grips with as everything is done using the mouse or touchpad. Using the right-click, you can cycle through each of the four different interaction options before using the left-click to carry out the chosen action on the selected on-screen item. A unique licking mechanic allows you to explore the entire game using your tongue, providing the game with a lot of extra flavour; although just like real cats, the characters may decide not to listen to your instructions for certain items.
Like many point-and-click adventure games, movement in Nine Noir Lives can be a slow, making the constant back and forth between locations feel tiresome and annoying after a little while. By the end of the game, this was starting to get quite repetitive and ended up taking me out of the story.
While I do think the game would be have benefitted from some keyboard controls or the use of the scroll wheel, for me Nine Noir Lives almost seems better suited to a console like the Nintendo Switch where you’d be able to take advantage of the touch-screen and joystick controls; though I appreciate this is probably a personal preference.
Writing and Art Style
Despite the lack of cynicism and bland colours that are often expected from a noir game, Nine Noir Lives actually captures the genre very well. Each character that gets introduced to the story is given a noir-style opening with a distinctive and stylised narration and the voice acting from industry greats like Carol-Anne Day from a A Hat in Time and SungWon Cho from Borderlands 3 and the upcoming God of War Ragnarok is the perfect mix of cliche and dramatic.
The humour is relentlessly fun and often seems to be completely improvised on the spot, in a tone eerily reminiscent of a Marvel movie. It’s full of sarcasm and witty cat puns that are littered with references to pop culture shows like What We Do In The Shadows, Arrested Development and Always Sunny in Philadelphia; while the backdrop of the family feud is very clearly a parody of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Though the constant jokes can get a little old, when the mystery gets going you can tell the writers clearly have talent.
While the twists in the story were somewhat predictable, they’re still executed with finesse within the world that Silvernode has created. We learn about the protagonists life and his relationships with others through his interactions with the narrative and the little hints of a possible sequel that play out in the phone calls with the professor next door adds an additional element of mystery that makes the world feel much larger than it is, despite the limited number of locations we actually visit.
As mentioned, the art style is surprisingly colourful for a noir game, using a hand-drawn style that is almost reminiscent of comic-books in it’s use of light and shadow to mirror the emotions found in the scene. The characters all have clear-cut and recognisable looks that go with their personalities and motivations, allowing you to identify suspects easily.
Nine Noir Lives doesn’t pull its punches with the puzzles but they’re often easy enough to solve as long you check carefully for interactable elements in every corner of the screen, as the solutions are often hidden in plain sight. Sometimes the area that you need to click to get to the bottom of a problem is incredibly small and finicky, which can get frustrating when you’re trying to solve timed puzzles. I kept getting stuck because I couldn’t find the exact switch or object to click on! While there aren’t many hints to be found, if you really can’t untangle the yarn, there’s the option to switch on story mode to get some extra guidance about where to go next.
For me, one of the better parts of Nine Noir Lives was trying to figure out all the ways you could combine the items in your inventory to create new and creative solutions to the puzzles in front of you. Each attempt is accompanied by a pithy dialogue option to let you know whether your invention will work or whether it will crumble into a pile of cake crumbs and defeat.
If ticking off achievements is your idea of fun, you’ll be please to know that almost every single trophy can be obtained without diverting any attention from the main story. While I missed one in my initial playthrough, I’m pretty sure this was only missed because I was skipping through scenes to make up the progress I lost after one of several crashes.
While Nine Noir Lives is a stable game for the most part, as I got closer to the end of the story I began to experience more crashes. Unfortunately, since there is no auto-save feature, this meant I lost several hours of progress on multiple occasions. This caused me to develop a compulsive need to manually save my game after almost every scene change to avoid losing anything.
Luckily, the developers are aware of some of these issues, thanks to the feedback from the Steam Community forums, so expect them to be fixed in a patch soon.
Nine Noir Lives Review Verdict – The Purr-fect Point-And-Click
Overall, Nine Noir Lives has everything you’d want from a point-and-click adventure. The memorable characters, interesting item combinations and solvable puzzles are strung together in a fun and engaging mystery narrative that will keep you playing for hours on end. When you factor in the vibrant hand-drawn art style, the orchestral soundtrack and impeccable voice acting, it become a hard game for point-and-click adventure fans to miss.
Will you be picking up Nine Noir Lives? Do you agree with our verdict? Leave your comments below and let us know your thoughts!
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