EGX 2014: Calvino Noir | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

EGX 2014: Calvino Noir

Calvino Noir was the first game I spent time with at the Rezzed area at EGX this year. Even though I hadn’t heard of the game before, the gorgeous black and white artwork grabbed my attention from some distance, so I made a beeline. As it turns out, I wasn’t disappointed.

After playing through the demo on offer, I managed to grab a few minutes to speak with two members of the team behind the game. They described it as being an “Architectural noir heist game.” Taking its name from the Italian author Italo Calvino, the game is set in 1930s Vienna and puts you in control of a war deserter, hiding out and unable to go home. The demo on show at EGX was part of the first chapter of the game, and functioned as a tutorial – drip-feeding the various elements of the game like the stealth mechanics, combat, and the need to switch between multiple controllable characters in order to complete your mission.

The developers told me that the game was built around three main ideas. The first was the exploration and narrative side of things – encouraging and discovering new areas and uncovering the storyline. The second was stealth and sneaking – although your character can engage in combat, doing so runs the risk of heightened security if bodies are discovered. So, you’ll spend a lot of time working out the guards’ patrol routes and avoiding detection. The third idea behind the game was to build in sandbox elements to allow for emergent gameplay and for players to find their own ways throw the game. I actually saw this in action myself when I managed to gain access to a locked room by inadvertently luring a guard out of it, rather than stealing the key as prompted on screen.

Image via Calvino Noir

Rather than being a strict 2D game, Calvino Noir is rendered in something more like 2.5D which allows your characters to make use of the X, Y and Z axes by stepping into the background to escape detection at various locations. This is also reflected in the art style, where light and shadow interact to give the game a real sense of depth; rather than existing on a flat plane, the rooms and the rest of the world around you stretch away from your character, fading into haze and shadows.

It would be incredibly easy to write Calvino Noir of as a Limbo clone or just another 2D sneak-em-up, but doing so would be a mistake. The art style alone makes this game worth checking out – although at first glance it may look boring or dull, once you’ve seen it moving there’s a real sense of texture and beauty at work here. One which speaks volumes about the amount of work that’s gone into the game already.

Calvino Noir is roughly 60% complete, the guys told me, and has been in development since May. So, hopefully we’ll see a release before the end of the year. If you’re interested, you can check out the game’s blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. Regardless of when it arrives, the game will be releasing on iPad and Steam, and it’s a safe bet that this won’t be the last you hear of it on GFBR.


Follow Craig on Twitter, @d20shapedheart or email him at

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