One thing that will come to my mind is that I’m a big admirer for anything Noir. Ranging from films (especially from David Lynch) to the clothing I wear to my desktop and even the coffee I drink. Scourging through the internet for a Noir style adventure game, a free PC game ‘Fate by Numbers’ appeared and caught my interest. I was initially skeptical about this game as it is developed as a university project however putting that aside and after downloading a whopping 1GB plus file, I'll say it’s certainly not the best game I have played however it has potential and did somehow satisfy my Noir urge a little.
The fiction didn’t start off the way I hoped it did. True to the word of the 1940s noir style flick, Private eye Alice Sanger is assigned to get a briefcase, but quickly finds herself immersed in a web of corruption and shadowy motives. Initially this seems quite uninteresting as I thought it would have a more bizarre twist to like say the movie Sin City. However the story does pick up somewhat as you started to find out what the entire casts of misfits’ intensions are however not enough to make my head spin.
Nevertheless, the backdrop to Fate by Numbers is quite extraordinary. It blends well as it successfully merges 1950s technologies to a distant ‘Blade Runner’s’ world. Flying Chryslers with soaring buildings places a great feel for the game and the hacking tools that Alice used grabbed my interest. And let's do not forget that seedy bar and that big ugly corporations versus the government still apply to this ‘futuristic’ world. The entire game is filmed using that ‘green screen’ effect so even though the actors are not actually there on the set, it does blends quite well considering the limited resources the developers have in their disposal.
The game play for Fate by Numbers kept the style of the traditional 1990s FMV point and click adventure game. There’s nothing wrong with that however the puzzles themselves are quite easy to solve as there is no consequences for selecting a badly chosen action. However the actual menus are clean and easy to navigate but there are some bugs in the game that needs to be contaminated.
What makes or breaks any game and particular adventure games is the character’s maturity. I though this was one of the weaker points of the game as the acting definitely won’t win any awards. Unfortunately the net result of this formulates the game a little uninteresting as there is no genuine feelings towards any one of the actors (save the sleaze bag gun seller – he was quite good at his role).
I believe the musical scores originally composed by the developers (or their associates) and it’s quite nice to hear. A little repetitive in some areas however considering the limited budget the developers have (I think around 1550 euros) it’s good to see that all their scores are the real deal. As mentioned before, the acting is something to be considered. I will admit that some of the obscured humour placed a small smile on my face (I’m referring to the part when Alice is trying to talk to that ‘mysterious’ man in the Parrot Bar and not succeeding) and I wished there was more.
As I progressed through the story of Alice Sanger, around the half-way point, the story started to get interesting enough. A little touch of conspiracy presented itself several interesting side-plots however before I knew it, the game ends with a blink of an eye. Now you are probably wondering how long this game is. I’ll put it one way; the time taken for me to download this game is probably the length of the game itself. Another words, probably one hour (and before you say anything, that’s not my internet connection – it’s just from the server where I downloaded it from); give or take fifteen minutes. However the flipside to this is that the game has four different but very similar endings.
Considering the budget of only approximately $2500 AUD and being created by amateurs, this game for me would originally cast as a write off. However there are glimpses of real talent as I can see that care was taken to make this game as good as it can be. I really cannot say I can recommend this game to anyone other than big fans of film noirs. I personally would like to make a game (as I have a great story to tell and still looking for a decent user-friendly gaming engine) however the reality is that amateur games are not likely to become the next blockbuster. Yet if, like me would like to play a noir type FMV adventure game and have little time to kill, play it however grab a copy somewhere other than downloading it. It’s free after all and that my friend you cannot go wrong.