EGX 2014: Hands-on with black-and-white stealth thriller Calvino Noir

Cat and mouse

EGX 2014: Hands-on with black-and-white stealth thriller Calvino Noir
| Calvino Noir
Calvino Noir

Sneaking about in Calvino Noir can feel like playing cat and mouse. Only the cats have pistols and don't hesitate to shoot if they spot you.

That is, apparently, the risk you take when you're a crook for hire. If your job is to break into buildings, steal important documents, and make off with critical intel, gunfire is a workplace hazard.

And that's the plot of Calvino Noir: a dashing monochrome game, inspired by film noir. The story is set in Austria, and we start out as mercenary conman Wilt.

We start this PC demo (the game will eventually be ported to iOS and Android) by heading back to our room, which is located a few floors about a bar - possibly not the best lodgings for a typical film noir protagonist.

He takes a phone call and discovers that his next client -a dame - is waiting upstairs. So we head on up.

Calvino Noir

Here, we get a little taste of our hero's personality: he's not interested in this woman's argument that his efforts would be for the good of the city. He just wants to make sure he gets paid his usual rate.

With our job in hand, we head off to our destination. It's a large city building with subsurface catacombs, a hall with a grand stair case, a stair well, and a smattering of other rooms.

These large environments become side-scrolling stealth sandboxes where you can wander about at your leisure. So if you get seen or heard by a guard and you don't need to go sit in a cardboard box for five minutes.

Instead, you can dart through a door, scramble up two flights of stairs, wander through some back room, hop out the window, and take the fire escape down, giving your shadow the complete runaround

Calvino Noir

Later in the demo we meet another character and now we can swap between the two thieves. This guy works in the building, so can get past guards without arousing suspicions.

In this early part of the game our second character can waltz through a highly guarded area to get a key, and unlock a door to provide an alternative route in for our initial hero.

Eventually you'll meet more characters with other abilities and then manipulate time to work simultaneously with yourself. "The idea is to record one team member's movements, and then rewind time. Now, you can control another crook while the first thief plays out their recorded actions," we explained in an earlier article.

The game looks even better in person than in our tiny screenshots. The intricate buildings (you can tell the designers have an architectural background) look like cute 3D dioramas, but the thick fog cements the foreboding atmosphere.

And the black and white design is smartly done so characters don't get hidden in the inky alcoves of the design.

Calvino Noir is shaping up nicely, but we'll have to get our hands on those time-manipulation puzzles to see how the stealth sandbox can really work. It's coming to iOS in early 2015.

Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown spent several years slaving away at the Steel Media furnace, finally serving as editor at large of Pocket Gamer before moving on to doing some sort of youtube thing.