Part of the appeal of Rockstar's LA Noire was the fact it was set in a time period that video games normally avoid like the plague. The hats, the music, the black & white, it should be poison to a generation of gamers accustomed to wars, aliens, sports and fast cars.
But as LA Noire's success shows, there's a market for moody period mysteries. One that 1996 adventure game Noir: A Shadowy Thriller tried its darnedest to cater for.
Developed by TSi, a short-lived California studio and published by 1990's multimedia tragics Cyberdream, Noir was a crude adventure game which basically involved a lot of clicking on stuff.
In fact, that's almost all you did in the game, as aside from some surprisingly competent FMV conversation sequences, you spend most of your time picking up and interacting with things on static 2D images, ala Myst. Rather than being to the game's detriment, though, it's actually quite the piece of work.
Noir comprises what must be thousands of painstakingly authentic photographs, some of the beautiful vistas of 1940's Los Angeles, others as mundane as close-ups of an elevator button. It's a disturbingly comprehensive tribute to the era, one that even LA Noire's obsession with hats and fancy shoes doesn't ever seem to match.
The game is your typical mystery fare; your partner goes missing, so you pick up his last remaining cases in an attempt to find him. Along the way you encounter pretty ladies, well-dressed gentlemen, Chinatown, Hollywood and stereotypical, dimly-lit offices. Basically, everything you'd expect and hope for given the genre.
Sadly, the game's no longer commercially available, but if you want to check it out, Google should be able to help you track down a copy.
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends. You'll find Total Recall stories every Mon-Fri between 11pm and Midnight ET.