Video Game: Discworld Noir

Discworld Noir is the third Discworld Adventure Game. It was made by GT Interactive and released in 1999.

The game follows Lewton, the Disc's first and only Private Investigator. The game starts as Lewton is given a simple case to find a man. Since this is an Adventure Game set on the Discworld and acted out through a Film Noir genre filter, it soon becomes clear that there is far more going on.

While the game in many places is an Affectionate Parody of Film Noir, it also plays many of the tropes straight, even if they are given a unique Discworld spin.


Tropes:

  • AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: Lewton consistently pronounces "troll" as "trahl". Carlotta does too, but in her case it suits her accent.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: The Octarine Parrot.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: The Guild of Archeologists is a lot like this. It may be notable that their spokesperson is a young woman named "Laredo Cronk".
  • Back from the Dead: One of Lewton's first lines is "I've never woken up dead before". He's been stabbed with the stolen sword he was searching for, but revived because his client had infected him with lycanthropy and the blade wasn't silver.
  • Badass Longcoat: Lewton. Brown trenchcoat with leather added over the shoulders, and a matching fedora.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Gaspode teaches Lewton how to use werewolf "nasal vision".
  • Blatant Item Placement: Discussed by Laredo Cronk.
    Laredo: It means breaking into ancient buildings within which no man or woman has walked for thousand of years, apart from whoever it is who leaves all those medical kits, of course.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: A disillusioned cultist decides to declare his complete renouncement of all gods from the top of his own temple. He is immediately struck by a dozen lightning bolts simultaneously.
    Mooncalf: What were the odds that I'd get hit by lightning just as I renounced all gods?
    Death: About one to one, I'd say.
  • Canon Foreigner: All the main characters. Canon characters such as Gaspode and Nobby Nobbs are limited to secondary roles. There is certainly no indication in the books that Lewton, or even the profession of Private Detective, exists.
  • Canon Immigrant: In The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide the list of cafes includes Cafe Ankh, and the pubs and taverns includes the Octarine Parrot, both from here.
  • The Chanteuse: Sapphire is basically an Expy of Ruby in Moving Pictures, with a song that includes the lines "The minute you walked through the wall,/I could see you were a troll of destruction".
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lampshaded when Lewton notices a grappling hook behind the troll he's trying to question. Sure enough, while he can't collect it immediately, he gets to use it later. "I couldn't have been more interested if it had had 'Plot Device' written all over it."
  • Chess with Death: Death remembers once being challenged to a game of "flog" (Golf). The soul he's collecting asks what kind of game it is.
    Death: An extremely stupid one to play against someone who spends every second practicing his swing.
  • Combinatorial Explosion: Attempting to use a crowbar to smash a glass case elicits the response "Great idea. Shame it'll only work if you're a beta-tester or you've hacked the game", since you're supposed to have lost the crowbar by that point. A glitch causes the item to reappear in the spot where you found it, though. For shame, Mr Beta Tester.
  • Connect the Deaths: Played straight.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Malaclypse, a servitor of Errata, Goddess of Confusion and Misunderstanding. This is a Shout-Out to out world Malaclypse the Younger (a penname for Gregory Hill), the supposed creator of Principia Discordia, which details the worship of Eris, the Goddess of Chaos.
    • A reasonable chunk of his gibberish is actually true, and covers a lot of Discworld (and Discordian) mythology/history.
  • Continuity Nod: Lewton mentions that the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night (from Guards! Guards!) has been "forcibly disbanded."
    • One stained-glass window at the Temple of Small Gods represents an angel presenting a pizza (with a small bay leaf) to a prophet, a reference to a religion mentioned in Mort that believed that the Discworld was created in the image of a pizza.
  • The Corpse Stops Here: Taken to ludicrous extremes. Lewton finally finds the guy he's looking for when he's knocked unconscious from behind. When he comes to, the guy's dead and Vimes and Nobby are standing over him and telling him he's the prime suspect. Other characters are impressed by the way he knocked himself out to allay suspicion.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: The first part of the game seems like a normal mystery story, with a detective, a murder, suspects... The final part, however, involves a plan to release an Eldritch Abomination, and once it's released, finding a way to kill it.
  • Crate Expectations: Deftly justified, the protagonist is looking for a MacGuffin that has been smuggled on a ship, hence the many possible crates to check.
  • Credits Gag: Terry Pratchett is credited as "Far Too Much Interference".
  • Cursed with Awesome: Discussed. Lewton isn't very happy about becoming a werewolf, but Carlotta (who infected him) says it's a great gift. It does turn out to be pretty useful.
  • Darker and Edgier: The entire game feels like a dark Watch book, to fit with the Noir theme. It is also quite darker than the two previous Discworld games, both in feel and in colour palette. Actually works.
  • Day of the Week Name: Mundy, a parody of Thursby from The Maltese Falcon.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lewton, and oh-so-many others.
  • Dialogue Tree: The game has these, which is unsurprising for an adventure game. It adds that you can bring up any item in your inventory as a conversation prompt, along with notes you've made about topics you've encountered.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Well, more accurately, the bestial serial killer is the god Anu Anu who spends most of his time in the form of a small dog. However it is his worshippers who choose his victims and they are all in turn being manipulated by the real mastermind.
  • Dying Clue: A victim who was hung upside-down, blinded, and left to bleed to death scrawls a note in blood on the wall. The message is a code-number for the hiding place of a mysterious relic, but it appears to be a name because it's written upside-down.
  • Editorial Synaesthesia: Werewolf vision.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Nylonathotep.
  • Elvish Presley: Lewton will say "Thank you very much" with an Elvis accent when a wizard informs him that glamours are "an elvish thing".
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Horst. Really bizarrely, when you realize he's one of several characters voiced by Robert "Kryten" Llwellyn.
  • Expy: Many of the characters in the game are quite clearly Discworld versions of characters from Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. "Tomb evacuator" Laredo Cronk is an obvious Lara Croft reference, and the Indiana Jones theme occasionally almost plays in the background of the archaeologist's guild.
  • Fantastic Noir: A more humorous take on the entry, as you'd expect from the source material.
  • Fat Bastard: Jasper Horst, the troll parody of Casper Gutman.
  • Femme Fatale: Carlotta.
  • Film Noir: a bitter, cynical, life-weary, alcoholic detective narrates his crime investigation in a dark, corrupt city. Almost no one is telling the truth or can be trusted, and adultery, blackmail, murder and conspiracy are the least despicable things perpetrated. And it's always night and it's always raining.
  • First Name Basis: Lewton tells his friend Samael (a vampiric pianist/Casablanca reference) that they've known each other long enough, that Samael shouldn't call him by his last name. Samael retorts that they've known each other long enough, that he's earned the right to call Lewton whatever he wants, and prefers the last name.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After meeting the dwarf Al Khali, Lewton comments "all we needed was a troll and a member of the undead and we could open an ethnic comedy on Broadway". Soon after that, Lewton meets Malachite the troll, and much later Letwon himself becomes a member of the undead.
    • Lewton comments when Carlotta is kisses him: "something changed in me at that point, and I knew I'd never be the same again", while the camera moves to stained glass depicting a wolf. It's later revealed Lewton transformed into a werewolf during that moment.
    • If you examine the fountain in the Temple of Small Gods, Lewton says that until someone is found murdered in the fountain, it is of no interest to him. While not a murder victim, Mooncalf's corpse ends up floating in the fountain after his death by Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter.
  • Friend on the Force: Playing the role of Detective Tom Polhaus is Corporal Nobby Nobbs. So no help there.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: The vampire pianist Samael, probably a black ribboner.
  • Genre Savvy : Some of the villains, not that it surprises anyone.
  • Genre Shift: For the most of the game the game seems like an Affectionate Parody of Film Noir in general, and Casablanca in particular. Then towards the end, it suddenly turns out to be a Cosmic Horror Story, with Noir elements.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: As usual on the Disc. The entire plan turns out to be an attempt by the worshippers of the small god Anu-Anu to have their god defeat Nylonathotep and thus win enough believers to become a recognised deity.
  • Going by the Matchbook: A major clue early on is a matchbook from the Octarine Parrot.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: One of the characters is an old lover of Lewton's who broke off the relationship unexpectedly and rapidly vanished. During the game she returns, and reveals that the reason for the sudden heartbreaking was that she'd actually been married the whole time, but up until she disappeared, she thought she'd never see her husband again; once she discovered this assessment to be false, she decided fidelity was the best option. The game doesn't really pass judgement one way or the other over the morality of the actual relationship between her and Lewton, but Lewton himself holds one hell of a grudge over how fast she left. At the end of the game, he forgives her and sends her back to her husband. And yes, the whole thing is unashamedly inspired by Casablanca.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The bartender Mankin is half-elf, in the Discworld setting, that makes him very unpopular (since Elves are cruel and vain beings from a parallel dimension), and gives him no special powers. He is a very bitter person.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Lewton both embodies and parodies this trope, due to the Disc's Theory of Narrative Causality; he doesn't know why being a private investigator means he has to wear a trenchcoat and fedora, but he's quite sure it does.
    Lewton: A lot of strange things had happened to me since becoming a private investigator, but the weirdest was the irrepressible sensation that the most important thing for me to own as a P.I. was a door, with my name painted on the glass. Some mysteries are best left unsolved, I guess.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Played straight, Horst holds Ilsa for the Golden Sword.
  • How We Got Here: The game opens with a cinematic in which the protagonist is chased down and stabbed to death. You spend the first half of the game looking for the McGuffin whose possession will result in your untimely demise.
  • I Can't Use These Things Together: Lewton says "I resisted the temptation to say 'That doesn't work'". Noir specifically had the creators work as much as possible to avoid this aspect of the trope; practically every combination has a specific line describing it.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Lewton tries to do this on Malaclypse - it works, after a fashion.
  • In Medias Res: The game opens with Lewton buried, having been fatally stabbed in a cinematic. The first half of the game is his story of how he got into this situation, the second is how he deals with its aftermath.
  • Large Ham: In-game actor Privetier is a huge ham, much to Lewton's displeasure.
  • Let's Play: A video playthrough by TheRussianGestapo on YouTube.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When Lewton asks the butler if he can see Count von Uberwald, the Servile Snarker responds that he is in no position to judge how good Lewton's eyesight is.
  • The Maze: The Sewers of Ankh-Morpork are Tricky, and you will go round in circles (thankfully through only three rooms) until you go into werewolf mode and follow a scent trail.
  • Mystery Fiction: The game combines this trope with Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, casting the player as a citizen who becomes a detective because of the Theory of Narrative Causality.
  • Nay-Theist: Mooncalf loses his faith in the Disc gods, clambers up to the Temple roof while ranting about what ungrateful, undeserving total bastards they are, and is struck by a dozen lightning bolts simultaneously. He was congratulated for his style by Death.
  • Noir Episode: The game deserves an honorable mention, though it was a video game that was a spinoff from the books.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: The game uses the journal not only as a means to remind the player on what he has to do next, but also as a gameplay mechanic. Namely, the journal entries can be used to question the characters. Appropriate, considering that the protagonist is a Private Detective is in a skewed Film Noir fantasy game.
    • But also occasionally irritating, as the other characters almost always get annoyed when you ask them something that's not relevant to their case, and sometimes even if it is. Trying to figure out which questions are the right questions to ask, and who to ask them to, can be a Guide Dang It in and of itself.
      • Especially at least one instance where you have to realise that you have to question a character in relation to a note that he gave you. Especially annoying as you can continue on for quite some time without doing this before you are no longer able to progress, giving you no reason to think that you need to talk to him at the moment!
  • Odd Job Gods: Errata, the Goddess of Misunderstandings, famous for having the largest number of followers who, by mistake, follow a different god.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: It looks like the game is headed for this when an ancient guardian wants to ask you a riddle to see if you are worthy to receive the McGuffin. Then come the subversions, first by the guardian who happened to forget the riddle during his 400-year-wait (but still insists to only hand the item to those who answer it) and then by Lewton who points out that someone of the unworthy faction would just hack the weaponless guardian to pieces. As he's in somewhat of a hurry, he gives the guardian the option to hand over the McGuffin - or he'll just pretend to be unworthy enough...
    • The guardian relents.
  • Out of Character: Insofar as characters who appear in the books are hanging about, they're reasonably true to the books-except for Vimes. Vimes holds a massive grudge against Lewton because the particular indiscretion for which Lewton was fired (accepting a bribe) ranks just short of murder in Vimes' book (which is true to the books), and he's only too willing to accept that being found unconscious at the crime scene is proof of guilt. This in contrast with his portrayal in the books where he hates "clues" (like, say, being found unconscious at the crime scene) because they often create fantastic stories out of the theories but do little to solve the case. In the books his first duty is to justice, and if that means letting the guy he doesn't like walk so that the real culprit ends up behind bars, he doesn't want it any other way.
    • Essentially, Vimes has been handed the role of Sam Spade's nemesis Lt. Dundy even though it's not a great fit, because it's still much closer than giving it to, say, Carrot.
    • Could be Fridge Brilliance at work: Vimes may actually know that Lewton isn't a likely suspect, but wants Lewton to clean up this mess to make amends for his past failure as a copper. Leaning on Lewton may be Vimes playing out the same hard-ass role he adopted in Night Watch for his "ginger beer trick".
  • Override Command: Lewton must get into the Archeologists' Guild vault, which is guarded by a magical lock which will Baleful Polymorph anyone who enters the wrong code. The trick is to talk to a wizard, who will tell you there's a "back passage" code.
  • Parody Name: Mundy for Thursby; Jasper Horst for Casper Gutman; "Mount" Malachite for "Moose" Malloy; Nylonathotep the Laddering Horror for Nyarlathotep the Crawling Chaos.
  • Pixel Hunt: The previous games sometimes had this. Yes, the usable items were captioned, but only once you had the mouse on them, and the Josh-Kirby-lite insanely detailed backgrounds didn't help. Noir, as in many things, was an improvement ... except when you were locked in jail, and had to find the right brick in a pitch-black room to escape.
  • Posthumous Narration: Lewton gets killed in the opening cinematic, and and a good chunk of the game is a flashback.
    Lewton: I've had some bad days since I started work as a private investigator. But I've never woken up dead before.
  • Prison Episode: There's a brief prison-escape scene at the Patrician's Palace, which takes Lewton into Leonard of Quirm's secret workshop. A subversion because, once he's broken out of his cell, Lewton has to repeatedly break back into the secret location he'd escaped through to close the case.
  • Private Detective: Lewton both embodies and parodies this trope, due to the Disc's Theory of Narrative Causality; he doesn't know why being a private investigator means he has to wear a trenchcoat and fedora, but he's quite sure it does.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Played straight and parodied, with the usual Discworld insistence that metaphors have to be precise. Also, Lewton is a very, very bitter man.
    Mankin: Say, I do like your 'ard-boiled dialogue. 'Ow long d'you boil it?
  • Rage Against the Heavens: In the final act, Mooncalf denounces all gods on top of the Temple of Small Gods. This being the Discworld, he is immediately incinerated by about a dozen lightning bolts. Death gives him points for style.
  • Red Herring: Unusually for an adventure game, there are a few false leads, such as the story of the madman Azile, who buried people upside-down, and Malaclypse's gibberish. Mostly.
  • Servile Snarker: The butler. Although his snark is directed at Lewton, not his employer. (He doesn't actually have any scenes with his employer.) He's a lot less polite about it as a result. He'd raise obstruction to an art form if not for the fact that you have business with both his bosses, neither of whom appreciate being kept waiting.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The game has innumerable shoutouts to Casablanca, and popular culture in general. There are also two framed pictures showing landscapes from the previous, more colorful, Discworld games.
    • The McGuffin of the first half of the game is a falchion. A Tsortese Falchion. That is also the Discworld's equivalent to the Apple of Discord, or would if the writing on it hadn't been "Batteries not included"
    • The game is mostly a big homage to Film Noir, but includes a few Shout Outs to other things including Doctor Who ( Satrap's big villain speech is a fairly direct lift of Davros's in "Genesis of the Daleks") and other video games ("They'd hidden in a wine barrel. Now why did that make me think of the phrases 'You wait. Time passes.' and 'Thorin sits down and begins singing about gold'?" - the two phrases coming from the "hiding in wine barrels" scene in the Interactive Fiction version of The Hobbit.)
  • Sinister Minister: Mooncalf, though he's more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist than actually evil.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: The death of Mooncalf. He goes mad with guilt over the actions of his cult and renounces all gods while standing on top of the Temple of Small Gods in a thunderstorm... it was inevitable, really.
  • Take That:
    • The Lara Croft Expy basically serves as a vehicle for the writers to tear into the Tomb Raider franchise. Ten years laters, with all the Tomb Raider re-releases, and sequels and stuff, it's become Hilarious in Hindsight.
    • There's also this line in the Guild of Archaeologists:
    Lewton: I won't bore you with the details of the Guild's security system — after all, if you've seen one intrincate and fatal collection of pits and traps you've seen them all. Suffice it to say, it took a lot of trial and error, some scorched eyebrows and more levers than I could count.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Subverted, in which a sailor on the Milka initially speaks to Lewton in stereotypical pirate accent and sea-dog jargon, but quits hamming it up when Lewton calls him on it.
  • Theme Serial Killer: There was a parody of Theatre of Blood, with the plays of Hwel, the Disc's version of Shakespeare.
  • Trojan Horse: Used by Lewton to board the Milka, and by a killer to enter the Patrician's Palace.
  • The Von Trope Family: Lampshaded, where the name "Count von Uberwald" isn't enough to identify someone, except as "probably a vampire".
  • Wham Episode: More like wham scene - the library scene when you finally figure out that the game is a Cosmic Horror Story.
    • And later still, when Lewton finally pieces some things together:
    Lewton: At that moment I realized what was odd about the bone. It had been a human femur.
  • Whole Plot Reference: To The Maltese Falcon, Farewell My Lovely and The Big Sleep. All happening at the same time, and with one character playing the roles of all three Femme Fatales.
    • And then part way through, where it turns out to also be a Discworld version of the investigation plot of Illuminatus!, with Eris and the Apple of Discord Expys, conspiracies within conspiracies, a Eldritch Abomination trapped in a polygon shaped building, and Malaclypse ranting.
  • You Make Me Sic:
    Lewton: Can I see the Count?
    Butler: I am not in a position to ascertain the effectiveness of sir's eyesight. However, sir may see the Count, which is what I believe sir was attempting in sir's uneducated way to ask.