Calvino Noir is a side-scrolling stealth game that clearly draws a wealth of inspiration from noire spy thrillers of yesteryear. The well-written dialogue, striking black and white art design and the espionage story paint a beautiful homage to those tales that clearly inspired it. Unfortunately the great presentation isn’t able to save it and it is in the actual playing of the game where it sadly stumbles, the weak and frustrating stealth mechanics, one shot deaths and unpredictable enemy awareness plague Calvino Noir and restrict it from living up to its better parts.


Calvino Noir tells an interesting, yet fairly cliché tale of deceit, revenge and everything in between. In a 1930s Europe, the criminal underworld is at large and a rag-tag group suddenly finds themselves tangled within a revolutionist plot to save a city that is slowly being destroyed. You will slink through sewers, climb across rooftops and stick to the shadows as you attempt to keep out of sight from the deadly guards that walk the halls between you and your goal. Despite the overall story being quite stale and cliché, throughout the 7 chapters there are a small number of branching dialogue trees that you are able to travel down, giving you the option to learn more about the characters that are in your control. Between learning more about the characters and the interesting player choice driven conclusion of the title it was definitely a story that I wanted to see through to the end.

The tale is told through three main characters each with their own special ability, which will help you infiltrate buildings and complete your mission. Wilt, is an English war veteran with a serious chip on his shoulder. He has the ability to choke out guards. Wilt is the only of the characters that is able to do some real damage, hiding in the shadows until just the right time to pop out and a deal with a guard will be crucial throughout Calvino Noir. Arno, is also an ex-soldier, he however fought on the opposite side of the battle to Wilt. Arno specializes in machinery, he is able to use different machines throughout each level to help the team get their task done efficiently. Finally, Siska a twenty-year-old revolutionist that seeks to rebuild her city as it inevitably slips into the gutter. Her ability is to peer through keyholes to see what can be found in the next room as well as pick locks, which will help your other team take different approaches and avoid the guards.


Over the course of Calvino Noir’s short 4-hour campaign there are two things you will become completely familiar with, the same unpredictably aware guards and death. These guards, which don’t seem to change through the 7 chapters of Calvino Noir, will shoot you on sight for a one hit kill. Maneuvering through the shadows and hiding in cover is your best friend when tackling these infiltration puzzles, but with Wilt’s ability to take down the guards I found myself more often than not, making enough noise to draw their attention, hiding in the shadows in wait and then pouncing out and taking down another unsuspecting enemy. Leaving a pile of bodies, which for some reason the other guards didn’t really seem to notice. My favorite chapters were actually those that Wilt wasn’t a part of. Challenging the player to actually use the cover of darkness, hiding in the shadows and distractions as a viable way to get to your destination. Siska’s ability to peer through keyholes becomes incredibly important when figuring out the puzzles that these better levels ended up becoming.

Unfortunately, there are some quite glaring flaws within the basic stealth mechanics of Calvino Noir, characters sometimes don’t hide in the areas you want them to hide or despite having the run option turned on they will slowly turn a corner to go down some stairs and be shot in the back when you knew you had plenty of time. Pairing this with the guards that can sometimes spot and shoot you from a mile away, or walk straight past you not seeing a thing. Another small gripe I had with the game is that you aren’t able to move more than one character at a time. Clearing out a huge facility methodically with Wilt would leave him at the checkpoint but would then it would take me several minutes getting the other stragglers through the level just to eventually catch up and have the next small story moment play out. Being able to highlight more than one character would have saved plenty of time when tackling these infiltration puzzles.


The seven chapters of Calvino will take you through behemoth factories, run-down hotels and bustling train stations, and littered throughout these areas are coins that can be found. These coins can then be used to upgrade your character’s speed and noise reduction in the main menu. Calvino Noir doesn’t do a very good job at explaining this feature and truth be told I only discovered it after I had finished my first playthrough of the game. Despite giving you a small incentive to go back and discover these hidden gems, it wasn’t enough to draw me back in and experience the monotonous gameplay over again.

Aesthetically, Calvino Noir hits the “noire” nail on the head. Between the writing, voice acting and backdrops, the game threw me head first into an espionage thriller. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be said for the rest of the game. Flawed stealth mechanics, unpredictable AI and frustrating one-shot deaths couldn’t be saved by those few great violent free stealth puzzles.

This review is based on a review copy of the PC version of Calvino Noir developed by Calvino Noir Limited.

Style Over Substance | Calvino Noir Review
Overall Score5
  • Some great non-violent moments
  • Noir aesthetic
  • Writing adds to the Noir feeling
  • Flawed stealth mechanics
  • Unpredictable AI
  • Frustrating one shot deaths
5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

I have been playing games for as long as I can remember, my favourite games include Final Fantasy VII, Shadow of the Colossus and The Last of Us.