Calvino Noir – Stealth… d’oh!

REVIEW – It’s a game with a nice, obscure ambience and a decent audio, while it’s absolutely ruthless: no warmup, not much room for error and you are most of the time put at a sometimes unfair disadvantage to progress. This is the shortest way for me to describe Calvino Noir, which might even be called the Souls of the stealth games with a bit of exaggeration…


I hide at the wall. The guard comes. Spots me. While I’m hidden. Dead. Gotta wait for five seconds for the game to load me back to the checkpoint. Ah, so it’s not always helping if I hide… I see, alright. I know, it’s not a decent way for me to start, but this has become one of the memorable experiences with Calvino Noir. From this, you can associate to two things. One: the game punishes. Two: if the focus is not on Wilt, then you can’t even fight back, therefore, the game punishes you even more.



Calvino Noir doesn’t really give the player a chance to get used to the things that can be expected. No tutorials in the start, instantly, you are in the middle of something, good luck. You have to memorize the guards’ movement patterns, which doors are opened and how they stop. This is important, because you will not have a gun, instead, you must use one of the characters to suffocate the enemies.

Then, you can hope that he succeeds. Sometimes, if you are sneaking – which shouldn’t give any noises, except when you open doors! -, the guards suddenly turn around and spot you, instantly resulting in a kill most of the time. There is no HP bar, no health regen, just restarts. This is why I call Calvino Noir the Souls game of the 2D stealth genre. Only the precise planning helps, and for that, you will need time. Be patient.

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The other most noticeable issue for me was the navigation of the stairs. Sure, it’s alright to move around with the D-Pad or the analogue sticks, but when you get involved in the second dimension, problems happen. You must stand right next to the stair and press up/down to begin using the stairs.

If not, then Wilt (the offensive character), Mole (not seen by guards), Arno (operates machinery) or Siska (the mysterious door opener and can see through key holes) won’t use the stairs. Thankfully on the PC. it’s not an issue, you can just click and the character will pull it off quickly. On the PS4, it’s an issue: you can run into a guard and… you know what happens.


Perfect ambience

Although I do sound like a bit harsh to the game, I do have to point out the perfectly created ambience. This is absolutely something that feels like the 1930’s Europe. The characters are from around the continent, each having a distinct accent. And still, the game really touched upon the film noir style in a great fashion. Rain, darkness, terrible mood all around – I can’t say a bad word about it.

This applies to the audio as well. All seven chapters are really well thought out in ambient/background noises, plus the characters’ and the narrator’s voice are all pulled off beautifully. (Plus, Dan Walters, the game’s producer actually allowed me to sample the audio of the game for a free song – hats off to him. Respectable.)


Everyone’s here

Getting to the next point is easy alone, but not with everyone. You can’t progress, until everyone is at the target, otherwise you will get the „We should all be here for this” text. This, plus the waiting after the deaths were what annoyed me a bit. Also, the coins, I didn’t really see any difference in upgrading my characters with them. But outside these, I see that Calvino Noir didn’t really get high ratings.

If you can get used to navigating the stairs (or be able to play on PC), as well as the ruthless difficulty here and there, then this is a really artistic title, which sadly leaves the player behind sometimes. Calvino Noir is the Dark Souls of the genre. Do I recommend a buy? For film noir fans, absolutely. For stealth fans, ditto. But maybe, it’s a good idea to rather pick it up on PC, because the console handling pulls it down a bit. But still, it’s masterful title, and the presentation should be used for other games by the devs, it would be well worth it!



+ Perfect ambience
+ The story is well written
+ Superb audio


– Controls, especially with the stairs
– Throws you into deep water quickly
– Lacks a bit of polish in the game design


Publisher: Calvino Noir Ltd.

Develpoer: Calvino Noir Ltd.

Genres: Adventure, Action

Publication: August 25, 2015.

Calvino Noir

Graphics - 7.5
Music/Audio - 9.5
Controls - 4
Ambience - 10
Story - 8



Calvino Noir is a bit jittery, but you can get the hang of it. Behind the film noir style, there's a challenging, but a bit poorly executed game.

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Grabbing controllers since the middle of the nineties. Mostly he has no idea what he does - and he loves Diablo III. (Not.)

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