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PataNoir

by Simon Christiansen profile

Mystery
2011

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(8)
4 star:
(19)
3 star:
(9)
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Number of Reviews: 6
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1-6 of 6


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A unique take on wordplay and simile in a detective game, February 3, 2016
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.

10 of 10 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.

Great Fun, Nice Story, May 18, 2015
by Tristano (Italy)
PataNoir is an unusual type of IF game. I can't really say more without spoiling the game experience. So ... just open it's story file, turn off the tutorial mode and enjoy it as it comes. Within a short time you'll realize what makes it different from other works of IF.
It can be solved in a couple of hours, and there is a good (and cleverly devised) hint system if you run out of ideas.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Clever gameplay, solid writing, and engaging story, November 19, 2013
by streever (America)
Despite some (very minor) hiccoughs, this is a strong game.

I didn't play the previous releases, but started with the open beta of release 5. A solid effort, the gameplay is fun and novel, although at times I did try each object until I got to the right one. The experimenting didn't detract from the overall experience, however, and I never felt stuck.

Some of the sequences were stronger and flowed together better. Some of the simile-based puzzles early on felt a little shoehorned or simple, but they improve substantially as the game goes on. In particular, everything after (Spoiler - click to show)your first confrontation with Camino was strong, challenging, but fair.

The help system is clever and useful, although it may over-simplify some parts of the game, so I'd suggest not resorting to it as quickly as the tutorial might suggest. A few puzzles that I could have solved on my own were rendered easy by the use of it, and it felt a little bit like cheating.

The denouement had a surprising last twist--although it felt very straight-forward, there was a well-done plot twist your player could create. It doesn't substantially alter the game, but it is a hidden choice that really engaged my mind and made me consider the morality of my character, the story, and the other participants. It also made me wonder what I'd do in real life--all in all, a very well done example of choice in a narrative.

I highly recommend this game on the strength of it's writing, gameplay, and novelty.

6 of 6 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.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An inventive and well polished journey, May 18, 2012
I wasn't going to play this title, but decided to give it a shot. Playing around with Similes didn't appear to be too appealing to me at first, until I realized that these paths unlock and unfold like any other adventure where you need to pay close attention to your surroundings.

Some of the puzzles were pretty challenging, but I managed to finish the game without the walk-thru, but using the hints provided by the very thoughtful and inventive in-game hint system/(Spoiler - click to show)character. This character was called Wesson and I would have been stumped without his hints.

The game is very well polished and a very satisfying experience. While I would not recommend this game to new-comers of IF, I think that this game is overall well with checking out if you are tired of the same old cliches and puzzles.

Thumbs up here.


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