Discworld Noir is a computer game released in 1999. Unlike earlier Discworld games, which are based on plots in Discworld books, it has a completely original storyline, which draws from and parodies the film noir genre of movies and literature.
Terry's prologue to the Game
(A guide for those people who think Star Wars is an old movie)
Technically, film noir means 'black film', but...
...look, you know what it has come to mean, even if you didn't know what it was called, because I doubt if there has ever been a movie style that can be so recognisably parodied. Film Noir is what you get when you stir together The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Casablanca, To Have and Have Not and several dozen other movies made in the 40s and 50s. The weather is bad, the lighting is low, the streets are mean, life is cheap and the women are tougher than nails and have shoulder pads on which a competent pilot could land a small jet. People tend to lie a lot and double-cross one another. It's the monochrome world of cynical detectives with their names spelled backwards on the glass doors of seedy offices and a bottle of rye in their desk drawer. And people smoked a lot, probably because of the stress of the lying, double-crossing, bad weather and walking into furniture in the low light.
Technically, it died out in the mid-50s and the lightening of the post-war gloom, but surfaces in countless parodies (Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid) homages (Blade Runner) and references so ingrained in popular culture that you probably know exactly what I'm talking about even if you've never seen one of the movies. Play it again, Sam.
(A guide for those people who think fantasy only comes in brick-thick volumes)
...but you're just bought the third Discworld computer game, and you don't know about the twenty-three books, the maps, the posters, the badges, the beers, the diaries, bookmarks, figurines, fan clubs, conventions and very popular cross-stitch embroidery designs?
Shall we wait for you to catch up?
The action in many of the books centres in and around the ancient, thriving and cheerfully-corrupt city of Ankh-Morpork. The weather is bad, the lighting is low, the streets are mean (oh, yes) life is expensive because it's death that's cheap, and the women are pretty tough even without shoulderpads. People tend to lie a lot and double-cross one another.
It's a naked city of a million stories, many of them badly spelled and cut very short. There are trolls, dwarfs, werewolves, zombies, wizards and vampires among the citizenry. Mostly they just want to earn the next dollar. And now it's just got its first private eye. He can look forward to being lied to and double-crossed, but that's only the start of his problems... As they say in Sham Harga's House of Ribs: "Play it again, Sham."
- Carlotta von Überwald
- Clerk's Gable
- Cpt. Jenkins
- Death of Rats
- Detritus (only appears in a cinematic)
- Errata (doesn't appear, but is mentioned a lot)
- Havelock Vetinari (his voice is heard in a cinematic)
- Henning von Überwald
- Ilsa Vargberg
- Jasper Horst
- Leonard of Quirm
- Inspector Lewton
- Laredo Cronk
- Madame Loadstone (only her dead body is seen)
- Mundy (only seen in a cinematic alive, then his dead body)
- Nobby Nobbs
- Remora Selachii (only in cinematics)
- Samuel Vimes
Places and Locations
- Café Ankh
- The Dysk Theatre
- Dragon Street
- Guild of Archaeologists, Antiquarians and Tomb Evacuators
- Guild of Merchants
- Horst's Quarters
- Maudlin Bridge
- Lewton's Office
- Octarine Parrot
- Patrician's Palace
- Pier Five
- Pseudopolis Yard
- Rhodan's Workshop
- Sanctuary of the Followers of Anu-anu
- Saturnalia Casino
- Selachii Familiy Mausoleum
- Temple of Small Gods
- Unseen University
- von Überwald Mansion
- Wizards' Pleasaunce
The game is rich with allusions, parodies and outright quotes from film noir. Some examples:
From The Maltese Falcon
- The Tsortese Falchion, a golden sword which everyone is desperate to find, mirrors the Maltese Falcon, a golden bird statuette.
- Al Khali, based on Joel Cairo - both are short and named after desert cities in their respective worlds, and both have a stout and sinister boss.
- Jasper Horst, Al Khali's boss, is direct parody of Casper Gutman, 'The Fat Man'. Horst uses or paraphrases many of Gutman's lines, e.g.: "I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk."
- Ilsa Vargberg is a reference to Ilsa Lund, Ingrid Bergman's character. Both Vargberg and Lund are towns in Bergman's native Sweden. Ilsa's relationship with Lewton and TwoConquers is also very similar to that of Ilsa Lund with Rick and Victor Lazlo.
- Samael mirrors the piano player Sam
- Many lines are from Casablanca:
- "We'll always have the Hotel Pseudopolis."/"We'll always have Paris."
- "Play it again, Sam."/"Play it, Sam." ("Play it again, Sam." was famously attributed to Casablanca, despite never actually being said in full).
- "This is the beggining of a beautiful friendship."
- "Here's looking at you Ilsa."/"Here's looking at you kid."
- The ending of the game is also very similar to the ending of Casablanca, in which the main character sends his lost love with her husband (although she wants to stay with him) in a flying vehicle to escape the city.
From Double Indemnity
- Just before Lewton is stabbed, his lines echo those of the detective in this film : "I couldn't hear my footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man."
From Farewell, My Lovely (a.k.a. Murder, My Sweet)
- The troll 'Mount' Malachite mirrors the dumb goon Moose Malloy, and the 'Therma' plot in Discworld Noir is very similar to the 'Velma'