It was a suitably dark and stormy night. Private Detective James Renoir interrupts his usual stream of gritty monologues to meet with an informant, business as usual. For Renoir, it’s standard routine to hit the streets and pry dried evidence from the asphalt like old chewing gum. This is a meeting like any other. Shady characters. Secluded areas. No big deal.
Until Renoir gets shot and killed.
Renoir follows its titular protagonist post-mortem, as he tries to solve the mystery surrounding his own death without the luxury of a body. Don’t think this means you’ll get to haunt Renoir’s ghostly butt up and down the city. He still needs to stick to the shadows, more so now than ever. In his new form, Renoir’s not so fond of direct light. You won’t be ducking under lit windows to avoid being seen. You’ll be ducking under lit windows to avoid dissipating.
You can’t interact with the living, so hit up your fellow dead. At the scene of violent murders, you can get some aid from the spirits of long since-passed victims. This is at the heart of Renoir’s platform puzzler format. Take control of these less dense souls to withstand brief exposure to light, granting you access to new areas and allowing you to open up dark passages for Renoir. These spirits’ actions are looping, meaning you can overlap them to set off clever chains of motion needed to advance. For example, Spirit 2 might need to wait until Spirit 1 turns off one light source so that he has enough stamina to withstand another on his way to deal with a steam valve. These actions are preserved both in order and timing. As they continue to loop, a path should be cleared for Renoir to keep moving forward.
These film noir-inspired areas feature stunning contrasts between light and darkness, all fully realized with the graphics powerhouse Unreal Engine 4. With gorgeous 2.5 dimensional visuals and an expansive storyline, Renoir’s fictional city feels like a living, breathing entity in itself. “Its history reads like an urban reboot of Dante’s Inferno: soaring crime rates, a police force as corrupt as they are incompetent, citizens living and breathing misery… all beneath a powerful clique of untouchables that pretend they care.” Like most good noir protagonists, Renoir is appropriately jaded, haunted by his own ghosts from the past as he is navigated through the city and into an uncertain future.
Renoir has been confirmed for PC, Mac, and Linux, and is in negotiations for releases on Playstation 4 and Xbox One. You can support the developers and find out more information on the game’s Kickstarter campaign or the official website. And if that isn’t enough, you can also support them on Greenlight here.