Reviews - Updated on April 1, 2022

Apparently, we still need to explain. Recently, you have already seen or will see several of my reviews of games at once, in which there is noir, pixel art, jazz, whiskey, cigarettes and fatal beauties – either all at once, or in one or another combination. This does not mean that I am just an old alcoholic who so sublimates his desire to indulge in vices again (although after that you yourself know everything). That means I’m an old alcoholic who loves pixels, noir, jazz, whiskey, cigarettes, femme fatales and films with Humphrey Bogart and Rita Hayworth – and better all at once. And most importantly, this means that Lacuna – A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure, and Backbone, and Pecaminosa – A Pixel Noir Game turned out to be interesting games in their own way – I don’t agree to anything less.

For example, Pecaminosa from the Portuguese studio Cereal Games was successfully funded on IndieGogo and even before the release received many prizes and nominations at exhibitions – basically, however, as the most anticipated Portuguese game, but nonetheless. What is good about it and what is not so good?

Dead on arrival

Pecaminosa is set in the 1940s in the titular fictional city on the US-Mexico border. The authors mix typical American noir with Latin American and Hispanic mysticism, which, as you know, is closely connected with the theme of death – here it is perceived differently than in our country, and the dead live their own lives (suffice it to recall Grim Fandango).

So, we play for the classic hero of film noir and novels – a former policeman, and now an alcoholic John Souza is depressed, falls asleep with a bottle of whiskey in his hands and a cigarette in his mouth. And then one day, either in a drunken delirium, or in reality, he sees a mafia boss nicknamed Charlie Two Angels, whom Souza himself sent to the forefathers. I mean, it’s a ghost. With two bodyguards. In foppish sombreros and masks, like on the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Pecaminosa - A Pixel Noir Game: Review

Is it white already?

The ghost informs that he is not taken to heaven. And therefore he proposes – he surrenders his accomplices, Souza removes them, thus returning to work, and Charlie Two Angels atones for his sins and receives a pass to heaven. Our hero really has no choice: his friend and former partner has disappeared – and it seems that Charlie is involved in this. Therefore, Sousa takes the list of victims and starts hunting. But first you need to return your gun, and for this the familiar huckster asks either to pay a lot of money or to knock them out of the debtor. Which Souza enjoys doing, beating up some horny dude in his penthouse.

Pecaminosa - A Pixel Noir Game: Review

In fights, there is only a hit and a block.

In principle, further in approximately the same vein – noir, atmospheric, with blackjack, whores and whiskey. In the literal sense – we visit brothels, play in a casino, restore health with whiskey. We also fight and run into bars or take their customers out and beat them in the face on the street. But all this is not for the sake of a senseless burning of life (although for the sake of this too!), But to get to Charlie’s accomplices, among whom there is a huge Mexican with a sledgehammer and a red-haired Irishman with a machine gun (of course, by the name of Rourke, but not Mickey).

You have to fight with them, and it can be very difficult to defeat them. The ringleaders mostly turned out to be interesting in their own way, except that the final let us down.

Some reptiles prefer to hide for the time being, setting their henchmen on us.

With fists or words

However, our hero is able not only to thump and fight. The authors of Pecaminosa – A Pixel Noir Game try to justify the presence of the RPG abbreviation in the “genre” column – many situations have different solutions. And they depend on how pumped the parameters of the character are. There are four of them – luck, intelligence, strength and endurance. In some dialogues, there is an option to put pressure on the interlocutor – but this requires at least the third level of strength.

In another situation, with +3 IQ, I was able to play in front of a railway employee who refused to let Souza and a girl on the train (what kind of noir without beauties?), A real performance – they say, she is some kind of princess, but how dare you and etc. The girl herself was shocked.

Pecaminosa - A Pixel Noir Game: Review

It is intelligent to talk about syphilis – such morals!

And, for example, in a police station where you need to get information from former colleagues, you can give a bribe or introduce yourself as an employee of another department, correctly answering a number of questions. Then it will still be necessary to hold a boxing sparring with an old acquaintance – only so as not to beat him up badly and not offend him.

In general, there are enough interesting situations – I have not yet said about the study of crypts, where a couple of simple, but still mysteries, have to be solved.

Pecaminosa - A Pixel Noir Game: Review

This is solved by enumeration.

The main thing is that the suit sits

We pump parameters when we get new levels. Depending on what exactly we are improving, certain active and passive skills may open – a throw of a Molotov cocktail, immunity to all negative statuses, or a temporary increase in critical damage.

Pecaminosa - A Pixel Noir Game: Review

If you pump all the parameters approximately equally, then we will not open anything.

And experience is mainly earned by completing quests and beating enemies. Well, like beating … You can also shoot – a pistol, a shotgun, a tommy gun are available. Ammunition is common to all guns.

Pecaminosa - A Pixel Noir Game: Review

And you don’t even need to reload.

In addition, equipment affects the parameters. So, John’s standard suit gives him a bonus to luck, and the full “set” of the police uniform – +3 to strength. You can’t carry one or the other with you – there won’t be enough space in the inventory. But you can leave something in a large box, which serves as a warehouse for us and is available in different locations.

Pecaminosa - A Pixel Noir Game: Review

But the police uniform does not affect the reaction of others.

From noir to desert

All this is accompanied by pleasant jazz, a well-balanced atmosphere, healthy irony and funny cross-cultural references – for example, one of the hero’s skills is called Indiana John.

Pecaminosa - A Pixel Noir Game: Review

And here we have a reference to the hero of the novels of Charles Bukowski (Charles Bukowski) and specifically to the movie “Drunk”.

And everything would be fine, but in the middle of the adventure of John Sousa sag sharply. We are pulled out of the noir atmosphere of an old American city and placed almost exactly in the “Indiana Jones” – in the desert we fight long and dreary with zombies and huge scorpions. And the combat system is not the best that Pecaminosa has. It is especially inconvenient to accelerate and dodge. In addition, you can not save, and the cartridges quickly run out.

For the sake of saving ammunition, we have to combine enemies into groups like this.

In general, obviously not everyone can withstand this strange scenario zigzag. And in vain – then there will just be casinos, blackjack and girls with low social responsibility …

Pecaminosa is definitely not a perfect game, uneven and frankly budget in places. However, there is the main thing for which I love noir – a gloomy atmosphere with notes of irony and cynicism, colorful criminals and a desperate detective who loves to drink and smoke, but is still able to push himself from the very bottom and do something important. Yes, I’m sublimating…

Pros: fascinating noir-style story; adjusted atmosphere; nonlinearity in solving problems; bright characters; overall interesting gameplay; nice picture and atmospheric jazz music.

Cons: the story sags sharply in the middle; not the most convenient combat system and management.

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