Home | Profile - Edit | Your Page | Your Inbox Browse | Search Games   |   Log In


iOS app on iTunes
Google play
Android app on Google play
Amazon Appstore
Android app on the Amazon Appstore
Walkthrough and maps
Verbose walkthrough and maps by David Welbourn.

Have you played this game?

You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.

Playlists and Wishlists

RSS Feeds

New member reviews
Updates to downloadable files
All updates to this page


by Simon Christiansen profile


Web Site

(based on 31 ratings)
6 member reviews

About the Story

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Current Version: 7
Development System: Inform 7
IFID: 3DEAF5F3-DA23-4F79-AC94-5E198EBE8962
TUID: si9s1jktywxj5vdk

Translated to German in PataNoir - Ein unvergleichlicher Kriminalfall, by Simon Christiansen ; Marius Müller (translator)


5th Place - 17th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2011)

Winner, Best Puzzles - 2011 XYZZY Awards


Release 5 now available December 4, 2013
More news... | Add a news item

Editorial Reviews

Emily Short
I don’t recall any other game that does anything quite like this.
See the full review

Two old, fantastic forms of narrative combine to form something truly unique in PataNoir.
See the full review

...a nigh on unmissable adventure that's simultaneously a perfect entry to the world of text-based gaming and refreshingly different to satisfy the most hardened of genre veterans.
See the full review

Boing Boing
Like words? Play with simile and metaphor in this unusual mystery app.
See the full review

Pocket Tactics
In the Internet age, any game which helps cement the curmudgeonly distinction between “literally” and “emphatically” warms my heart.
See the full review

Kill Screen
At times, PataNoir gives the sensation that you are falling down the rabbit hole.
See the full review

Katie from Gone Home
It is totally awesome and fun and if you like noir and/or language you are in for a treat.
See the full review


- View the most common tags (What's a tag?)
(Log in to add your own tags)

Member Reviews

5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 6
Write a review

Most Helpful Member Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Patanoir: Like Chocolate Wine, September 22, 2015
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011
The following review was for the original competition game. I replayed the later release and it easily deserves 4 stars (4.5 even?) and so I've adjusted my rating up accordingly.

Patanoir is like chocolate flavoured wine: interesting, unique, not to everyone's tastes and too much of it is likely to give you a headache. But either way you'll be pleased you tried it.

I probably played PataNoir for more than two hours on and off. It was good enough for me to bother finishing but not good enough for me not to resort to using the walkthrough a few times. The name 'PataNoir' is taken from the word 'pataphor'. Some people might object that a pataphor is a metaphor but the game deals in similes, but my contention after studying the various philosophy of language arguments about metaphor is that a metaphor is just a truncated simile. So I approve of the name.

I love the concept of the game: similes coming to life such that they can be manipulated to solve puzzles. There were some issues in the implementation. A lot of it made me smile. The writing is very sparse, similes aside, but sometimes it works. Simon is obviously going for the Chandler style patter and occasionally he gets it right.

The game was blessedly free of typos and grammar mistakes. My overall impression of PataNoir was that it's a neat idea, mostly well implemented- with some puzzles overhinted at and some nearing impossible without the (mostly excellent) in-game hint mechanism. This is surely a sign that the puzzles were hard to hint for as they weren't very naturalistic, which I suppose is an inherent danger in a surreal game. I'm glad the game was made, and it's exactly the sort of game that lends itself to non-IF players as a good example of the possibilities of IF. I wouldn't recommend it first, but then I wouldn't recommend it last.

Note: this review is based on older version of the game.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Hopeful Monsters, November 28, 2012
Simon Christiansen's work has been characterised by brilliant concepts that are ultimately let down in the execution. The execution has improved considerably (and so have the concepts, really); the overall experience, though, is still a little rough.

The big concept of PataNoir is that similes occupy their own adjacent reality that you can manipulate: change the simile, change the real world. One frequently-employed subset of this involves altering the personalities of people. Elements of one simile can be used to tinker with another, and in some sequences similes are gates that allow you to plunge into entirely separate worlds. There are, then, a number of distinct kinds of manipulation that can be performed with similes, and they're thrown at you pretty much all at once, together with rules about how the system works (similes can be used to modify real-world things, but can't act directly on them: a simile key will not unlock a real door.) When I first played it I had a little trouble taking on everything at once, and stalled out perhaps halfway in.

The simile hook provides a good deal of rather lovely imagery (kicking in good and early), with elements of fantastic journey about it; to film this you'd want Terry Gilliam (or Švankmajer, though it's not quite that dark). There is a hauntingly dark atmosphere to much of it. Not every section is quite as spectacular as it could be: the climactic scene in particular could be richer and darker. But there are many images I took away from this: (Spoiler - click to show)the angel fountain encircled by snake-paths, the sleeping giant, the eyes you swim into like subterranean lakes, the plunge from bottles on a table in a messy apartment into a minaret-studded city. There's much here of the raw stuff of imagination, the pure delight of strange transformations.

Structurally, the game has areas you can travel between, and you will fairly often need to travel back and forth. The game's natural pace is a sort of Anchorhead-like, leisurely poking around at things; but I ended up speeding things up with the walkthrough a good deal, for a couple of reasons. Dream or hallucination is a flow state: it's not something where you get hung up on a fair-but-difficult conundrum for a while and have to work through it logically. The play experience matches up much better with the experience-as-written when you cheat. Simile-logic isn't really consistent enough for a Savoir-Faire simulationist approach, and there's often a whiff of read-author's-mind about the solutions. In the impossible-to-make Platonic ideal of this game, more or less everything you tried would advance the plot somehow. That said, going to the walkthrough really doesn't ruin the experience: it's still hauntingly strange.

Christiansen's biggest limiting factor remains narrative voice. This is exacerbated because of PataNoir's reliance on a genre that makes very strong demands on narrative voice, even when done as a pastiche. Noir needs a tone of slangy self-assurance, murky motives, a grimy, uncomfortable world full of implied sex, violence and desperation. PataNoir feels a bit more in Thin Man territory: there's a noir template, but it's being used in service to something else, it's as much a comedy on noir tropes as anything, and thus it's rendered nonthreatening. The characters are a little too straightforward: the obligatory femme fatale has the mandatory dangerous curves, but these are only significant as a simile: but the PC doesn't feel as though he regards her with either lust or trepidation.

And then there's the ending. (Spoiler - click to show)The protagonist, it turns out, has a rare mental-health condition ("Lytton-Chandler syndrome") and, off his meds, has likely fantasised the entire thing. A lot of people felt this was a cop-out; I'm not convinced of this, but I don't think it really matches up with the story as written. The tough, non-flowing puzzle structure isn't suggestive of hallucination, but of solid, graspable, permanent worlds; the contrast between the rich simile-worlds and the flat detective-noir story suggests that they genuinely do occupy separate worlds, rather than being elements of the same hallucination.

So ultimately I came out of this hoping that Christiansen would team up with a more confident wordsmith, or perhaps find something that allows him to develop his own voice rather than trying to replicate an established style.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A unique take on wordplay and simile in a detective game, August 6, 2015
Patanoir is a wordplay game with a unique game mechanic: you can take and place similes. If someone is cold as ice, for example, you can take the ice, leaving a warmer, friendlier person. You can then drop the ice somewhere else, making the atmosphere in a room cold as ice.

The story itself is frankly unimportant. It is shoehorned in simply because the detective genre uses a lot of similes. Seemingly tense conversations can be left and returned to hundreds of turns later with no problems.

The game is mid-length, requiring a few hours to play. I found it very enjoyable to walk around with pockets full of similes, looking for a place to drop them.

The only game really like it is Counterfeit Monkey or possibly Ad Verbum, but each is different enough from this game to make it unique.

See All 6 Member Reviews

If you enjoyed PataNoir...

Related Games

People who like PataNoir also gave high ratings to these games:

Opening Night, by David Batterham
Average member rating: (16 ratings)
You stepped off the streetcar moments ago, halting before the grand facade of the Marquis Theatre. You have come to see your idol, the Broadway star Miranda Lily, performing in all her dizzying glory. [blurb from IF Comp 2008]

Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me, by Mike Sousa and Jon Ingold
Average member rating: (26 ratings)
Dr. Taylor's looking worried. Dr. Kurner's looking exhausted. Zak is grinning with glee. Today is the big day, and you're about to try out the crowning experiment of your life, and in AtlantisLab's chequered history. It's just a shame...

The Vanishing Conjurer, by Marshal Tenner Winter
Average member rating: (4 ratings)
You wish you were doing almost anything else than having dinner with this bloviating douchebag. Still, it's a potential client. Maybe you should hear what he has to say. . .

Suggest a game

Recommended Lists

PataNoir appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Recommended Linguistic Games by E.K.
Good games that use language puzzles, or language itself as the puzzle.

Word-play and word puzzles by streever
This is my list of fun games for word-play/puzzles. Some of them have substantial stories, and some do not.


The following polls include votes for PataNoir:

Must-play games by Jeff Sonas
I am looking for the games that, in your opinion, you simply must have played in order to really call yourself an IF aficionado. Or if someone wanted to play N number of IF games in order to get as good an overview of the IF classics...

Games with diseases that alter perception by Mrs. Info-adventurer
You know those parasites, fungi, and viruses that attack small insects or animals and control their minds? Well I'm looking for a game with a disease like that which alters your perception. Are there any games like that? Thanks a million...

Games You Return To by Ghalev
What games do you find yourself revisiting from time to time, games that have proven to be a kind of comfort-food of text adventuring, the warm old socks of parser and puzzle, the socks-full-of-comfort-food of overextended metaphor? What...

See all polls with votes for this game


This is version 56 of this page, edited by Simon Christiansen on 10 November 2015 at 5:41pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item