Discworld Noir is a computer game based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld comic fantasy novels, and unlike the previous Discworld games is both an example and parody of the noir genre. The game was developed by Perfect Entertainment and published by GT Interactive. It was originally released in 1999 for Microsoft Windows. In 2000 it was ported to the PlayStation by Teeny Weeny Games, the resurrected form of the already insolvent Perfect. Pratchett was consulted on the story and wrote some of the dialogue; he was credited in-game for causing "far too much interference." As it is a film noir parody, the game's protagonist Lewton frequently engages in hard-boiled soliloquy, or monologue.
The game utilizes a 2D game engine using pre-rendered characters displayed against pre-rendered backgrounds. Only the main character Lewton is using a polygonal model while residing in a walking or standing pose. The game was only released in Europe, and the development team no longer exists. As a result, the game, which suffered from several minor bugs, was not patched, and like many older games, has difficulty running on more modern platforms. A project to develop crossplatform support for running Discworld Noir is planned. It would be based on Residual, an experimental sister project of ScummVM.
The main character is Lewton, the Discworld's first and only private investigator, and former member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. His investigation of a brutal murder gets him involved in a sinister plot. The game's story line is a completely original creation, unlike the previous Discworld games, two of which were based on particular novels, and one of which was a mixture of elements from several. It is set in Ankh-Morpork, the largest city on the Discworld.
The game features many new characters and locales, which do not appear in the Discworld books. However, as the game is set in Ankh-Morpork, characters and locales from the books also appear, such as the Unseen University, the Dysk Theatre, Pseudopolis Yard, the City Watch and eccentric inventor Leonard da Quirm. The game's manual includes an introduction written by Discworld creator Terry Pratchett.
None of the characters created for the game have explicitly been introduced into the Discworld novels, although Neoldian, the blacksmith of the gods and forger of the Golden Falchion (a major plot element in the game) may be the unnamed blacksmith god who appears in The Last Hero.
The moody, ambient-SFX-laden music track was composed and recorded by British composer Paul Weir.
The majority of the game's characters, including Lewton, Nobby, Ilsa and Carlotta, are voiced by Rob Brydon and Kate Robbins, while Robert Llewellyn and Nigel Planer voice the rest. Rob Lord, the game's audio director is also credited as providing additional voices.
Film noir references
- Lewton is named after horror-noir producer Val Lewton. Josh Kirby's Discworld Noir cover illustration features a wolf posed in a similar manner to the cat on the cover of the Lewton film Cat People.
- The Tsortese Falchion is a parody of the Maltese Falcon.
- The character of Mundy may be a reference to Thursby in The Maltese Falcon. Both die (and 'Thursby' almost sounds like 'Thursday').
- Al Khali and Jasper Horst are direct parodies of two characters from The Maltese Falcon. Joel Cairo, played by Peter Lorre, is short in stature, named after a city and turns out to be the messenger for a huge man named Casper Gutman. In Noir, Al Khali is a dwarf named after an equally sandy city, and the lackey of a huge troll by the name of Jasper Horst. Gutman is rather rotund and to reflect this, Horst refers to the troll's shape ('Horst' being a geological term for a large outcrop of rock between two parallel faults. Curiously, this description also reflects his role in the game's storyline). Horst uses lines directly taken from Gutman's dialogue in The Maltese Falcon. The way Lewton is followed by Al Khali is a reference to another character, Wilmer.
- The troll "Mount" Malachite is extremely similar to the strong but slow witted Moose Malloy in Farewell, My Lovely, and Noir's "Therma" subplot is almost identical to the double identity sub-plot found in the film.
- Noir's ending is an homage to Casablanca's.
- Regin the dwarf coachman combines elements of three of the murder victims found in The Big Sleep. His employer, the wheelchair-using Count von Überwald, is based on the wheelchair-using General Sternwood in the same film.
- The line, "You know how to howl don't you, Lewton? You just pull your jaws apart and blow." is a reference to a line in To Have and Have Not, where Lauren Bacall says to Bogart, "You know how to whistle, don't you sweetheart? You just purse your lips together and blow."
- To Have and Have Not is referenced again when Carlotta asks Lewton who "she" was; "the one who gave you such a high opinion of women?" This is a verbatim quote by Bacall's character towards Bogart's in the film.
- The vampire pianist Samael is named after Sam, the pianist from Casablanca.
Lewton: Play it again, Sam.
Samael: You know what? No one's ever going to believe you said that.
Despite being famously attributed to it, the line "Play it again, Sam." was never actually said in Casablanca.
- Ilsa Varberg is named after Ingrid Bergman's character Ilsa Lund from Casablanca. Lund and Varberg are also both cities in Sweden, Ingrid Bergman's home country.
- The encounter with Vimes and Nobby in Mundy's bedroom mirrors when the two detectives enter Sam Spade's apartment in The Maltese Falcon.
- Just before Lewton is killed, his line "I couldn't hear my footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man." is taken verbatim from the film-noir film Double Indemnity.
- Satrap's use of the phrase "The stars are right!" is a reference to Lovecraftian literature. Nylonathotep, the Laddering Horror, is a parody of Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos.
- In the scene where Lewton asks Satrap, if he had a spell that would destroy all life, whether he would use it or not, the dialogue (with a few changes) mirrors the scene in the 1975 Doctor Who story "Genesis Of The Daleks" when the Fourth Doctor asks Davros if he would use a virus that would destroy all life.
- In the temple of small gods, Lewton notes to Malaclypse that the "Brethern of the Ebon Night" have been killed by a dragon. This is of course a reference to Guards! Guards! and/or the first Discworld computer game.
- The series of murders based upon theatrical plays is a direct parody of the film Theatre of Blood, in which the murders are all based upon works by Shakespeare.
- The Guild of archaeologists has many references to Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider, including a buxom tomb excavator named Laredo Cronk.
- The Milka picks up Ilsa and Two Conkers in Ecalpon which is spelled backwards "no place". This is a reference to Samuel Butlers Erewhon ("nowhere").
- When Lewton discovers that someone concealed themselves in a wine barrel, he wonders why that brings to mind the phrases "You wait - time passes" and "Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold.". These phrases come from the text adventure The Hobbit.
- The name Vault 51 and the bright yellow lettering used on the numbers, which is situated underneath the Archaeologist’s guild, is a subtle reference to the video game "Fallout".
- On smelling something strange, Lewton remarks that the scent "filled up [his] senses like a night in a forest"; this is a verbatim quote from Annie's Song by John Denver.
In Discworld Noir, there are many new, original characters designed exclusively for the game. However, many classic Discworld characters appear as well. These include:
- Corporal Cecil Wormsborough St. John "Nobby" Nobbs is one of Lewton's old friends from the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. He is in various City Watch Discworld novels including Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms and The Fifth Elephant. He plays a fairly important role in the game, offering Lewton certain pieces of information. Nobby also appeared in Discworld.
- Sam Vimes
- Sir Samuel Vimes is the commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Vimes never really got on with Lewton while he was a member of the Watch, and has despised Lewton since he was caught taking a bribe, something Vimes has very strong views about. In a departure from the novels, the Vimes of the game is unprofessional and vindictive, determined to fit the crimes to Lewton.[ ]
- The familiar Grim Reaper-style character that appears in almost every Discworld novel. Death comes to take the Count's soul away later in the game and also to take an evil wizard's soul away when Lewton fights him off the Observatory roof. The only character who persists in constantly breaking the fourth wall by referencing, amongst other things, narrative causality, the gangster stereotype, and the freeform flow of the game itself. However, these references may be just observations about the nature of discworld reality, since narrative causality is a fundamental law of the discworld universe.
- Death of Rats
- The Grim Squeaker.
- The Patrician
- The Patrician Havelock Vetinari is only briefly heard through the locked double-doors of the Oblong Office. He talks to Sam Vimes and is mentioned throughout the game several times.
- Leonard da Quirm
- A genius and inventor who is locked up in the Palace Cells for his own safety or, rather, for that of the rest of civilisation, given how dangerous some of his inventions have been. Because food, lodgings, peace and quiet and all the raw materials he needs are provided for free, Leonard doesn't mind his incarceration at all. The Patrician occasionally finds uses for his creativity and some of his creations. Lewton encounters him via a secret doorway in his prison cell.
- Captain Jenkins
- Captain of the Cargo ship the Milka who talks to Lewton in the Cafe Ankh. He appears in Jingo.
- Gaspode the Wonderdog
- The famous talking dog of Ankh-Morpork. Gaspode teaches Lewton how to use his werewolf abilities. He also appears in a number of Discworld novels including Moving Pictures, Men at Arms and The Truth.
Full list of characters
This is the full list of characters in the game. They are noted in the rough order of which they appear in the game.
- Lewton - the protagonist of the game; Lewton is a cynical and bitter private detective who later becomes infected with lycanthropy. Formerly a member of the Watch, he was fired by Vimes for accepting a bribe during a period of depression following the departure of his lover, Ilsa. After spending years as a drunkard and wallowing in depression, he became the Discworld's first Private Investigator; partially so he can afford to pay his bar tab and rent, but mainly because investigation is one of his only talents.
- Carlotta Von Überwald - a rich woman who hires Lewton at the beginning of the game to track someone down; she also goes by the name of 'Therma', given to her by her troll foster parents.
- Mr Scoplett - the first mate on the Milka; he picked up a bad case of Philosophy in Ephebe, which is a bit of a drawback when you are supposed to be navigating. One minute you are fine, the next you are wondering if anything can be truly said to exist.
- Captain Jenkins - the captain on the Milka; bitter and unhelpful. Desires a harem of exotic dancers called 'Chantelle'.
- Malachite - an unintelligent troll of few words, sent by Jasper Horst to hinder events unfolding.
- Corporal Nobby Nobbs - the sneaky, lazy, thieving Watchman still retains his friendship with Lewton, and occasionally offers good advice and actually does some work.
- Mankin - a half-elf bartender who doesn't appreciate people asking lots of questions.
- Sapphire - a troll singer at The Octarine Parrot, blackmailing Therma along with Regin.
- Samael - owner of Café Ankh and an accomplished pianist. Presumably a black ribboner as he is a vampire.
- Ilsa Varberg - an ex-lover of Lewton who is back in town with her husband.
- Al Khali - a dwarf named after a city working for Jasper Horst; he is first discovered snooping through the drawers of Lewton's desk, and appears in Lewton's office later armed with an axe. Investigation suggests a theory that he is possibly named after Al Khali due to the unrelenting winds.
- Two Conkers - Ilsa's husband; a foreigner from the Counterweight Continent visiting after Cohen's invasion.
- Rhodan - a very forgetful sculptor, part-time plaster surgeon for trolls.
- The Watchman - an unnamed watchman on Pier Five who delivers the immortal line, "sharp as a pancake you are". In Lewton's own words, "blisteringly unhelpful".
- The Butler - a butler at the Von Überwald mansion; overuses the word "sir" and is stereotypically sarcastic and condescending. Worries about Lewton damaging the hardwood floor.
- Count Henning Von Überwald - a rich man and father-in-law to Carlotta; he is crippled and very ill.
- Mundy - a courier and the man you are originally asked to track down; he briefly had the Tsortese Falchion.
- Vimes - the head of the Watch, apparently holds a grudge against Lewton.
- Remora Selachii - an assassin who occasionally appears to add tension to events.
- Whirl - a croupier at Saturnalia, doesn't give anything away for free.
- Warb - a depressed wizard and a True Believer of Anu-anu.
- Malaclypse - a conspiracy theorist who serves the goddess Errata - see Malaclypse the Younger.
- Mooncalf - a mad cultist who serves Anu-anu.
- Jasper Horst - an intelligent troll in search of the golden falchion.
- Regin - a dwarf who is employed to drive the Count's carriage.
- Sergeant Detritus - a dim-witted troll Watchman, plays the bad cop in Lewton's interrogation. 'If you want to fall down the stairs to your cell without leaving your chair it fine by me.'
- Leonard de Quirm - an inventor and technological genius; kept prisoner in the Patrician's palace and currently working on the Flapping-Wing-Flying-Device.
- Lord Vetinari - the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, overheard through a door during his conversation with Vimes.
- Clark's Gable - a rooftop gargoyle with a gutter in his mouth, witness to at least two murders. A direct reference to Clark Gable
- The Doorman - a stubborn doorman to the Guild of Archaeologists.
- Laredo Cronk - an upwardly nubile tomb evacuator; a direct parody of Lara Croft.
- Gaspode the Wonderdog - a mangy stray dog who teaches Lewton about his werewolf abilities. He talks, too.
- Mrs Fomes - head chambermaid of the New Hall at Unseen University.
- Death - the harvester of mankind, everyone's favourite seven-foot skeleton. Useful to Lewton's murder inquiries, but reluctant to help.
- Death of Rats - a harvester of ratkind.
- The Gatekeeper - a gatekeeper at the Merchant's Guild, not allowed to talk about 'the incident'.
- Foid - a troll who is a True Believer of Anu-Anu.
- Satrap - a wizard and True Believer of Anu-Anu.
- Coom - a spineless True Believer of Anu-Anu. First overheard through a door at the Patrician's Palace, speaking to Kondo.
- Privetier - a thespian, a complete ham.
- Anu-anu - a weak god who appears during the game, mostly in dog form as a small Kelef-Klatchani.
- Kondo - a True Believer of Anu-Anu. First overheard through a door at the Patrician's Palace, speaking to Coom.
- Gelid - a bledlow (porter) at Unseen University and a True Believer of Anu-Anu.
- Zombie - a jewel-guarding zombie.
- Saipha - one of the Patrician's clerks.
- Mathon - a wizard at the university who was interested in the astrology post.
- Gamin - merchant of the merchants guild.
- Mr Hong - owned the "Three Jolly Luck Take-Away Fish Bar" on Dagon street.
Full list of locations
These locations are noted in the rough order of which they are encountered in the game.
- Lewton's Office - where Lewton does all his paperwork
- The Wharf - docking place of The Milka
- Pier Five
- The Octarine Parrot - a sleazy and empty bar; used to be a troll bar so has a bad reputation
- Rhodan's Workshop - home of Rhodan and Malachite
- Café Ankh - Lewton's regular watering hole, an almost empty café with a wine cellar which is ideal for hiding people
- Pseudopolis Yard - City Watch Headquarters
- Von Überwald Mansion - home of the Von Überwalds and their massive library
- Saturnalia - a casino which is later closed due to a murder outside it
- Selachii Family Mausoleum - a huge mausoleum where Therma is said to be buried
- Temple of Small Gods - location of the mad cultists Mooncalf and Malaclypse
- Horst's Quarters - temporary lodgings of Jasper Horst and his henchman Al Khali
- Maudlin Bridge - bridge over the River Ankh; final resting place of Regin and his carriage
- Rooftops above Salis and Phedre - location of Gable and the murder of Malachite
- Patrician's Palace - home of the Patrician and his army of clerks
- Leonard's Cell - room of the palace where Leonard lives and works
- Cemetery - where you wake up after being bitten by a werewolf
- New Hall, Unseen University - Recently built student accommodation
- Sewers - an underground maze
- The Merchant's Guild
- Sanctuary The place in the Shades where Lewton uncovers the conspiracy behind the True Believers.
- Dagon Street - home of Foid, and of the notorious Three Jolly Luck Take-Away Fish Bar
- The Wizard's Pleasaunce, Unseen University - private garden for university staff
- The Dysk Theatre - home of the city's thespians and leading to the underground cavern where Anu-Anu and the True Believers summon Nylonathtep from the Dungeon Dimensions
- The Observatory, Unseen University
- Discworld II: Missing Presumed...!?
- Grim Fandango - Another noir adventure game
- The Colour of Magic