Designing interactive fiction has always inhabited that shade of grey between the arts of writing and game design. In interactive fiction, the words you choose as a writer can have gameplay consequences.

PataNoir takes this dynamic to its extreme. PataNoir is surrealist noir interactive fiction. If you see a set of rusty wheels described as “the color of coagulated blood,” you can then say “take blood.” In your inventory you will then find a “figurative piece of coagulated blood.” Does it sound confusing yet? It will.

I literally could not solve the first puzzle without consulting the game’s walkthrough, which involved taking the marble from the butler whose “face looked like it was carved out of marble,” then giving him a warm ember from a figurative campfire to give his eyes a friendly glow. Then, his disposition altered via the text, he would finally let you proceed.

Suffice to say I found this game very confusing, worthwhile as an experiment but not very fun to play. It stands as a monument to the difficulty in bringing some of the subtler aspects of story and character into a game, even with interactive fiction.

Join us next week as Charlie “The Wanderer” Hall screens Nous from the students at Digipen. Stay tuned to our Twitter feed for details on when and where.

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I apologize but my screencast sound got messed up again. You can view it here but the sound is very quiet.

Sounds fascinating, almost a bit like magical realism.

wordsmythe wrote:

Sounds fascinating, almost a bit like magical realism.

Ooo... Gonna have to check this one out if that's the case. Sorry I missed out. I was abroad... in Aurora.

This sounds a bit like one of the odder portions of Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, which was a wonderful piece of IF from Infocom, but it was quite difficult at times.