I hesitated a bit writing about Noctropolis. This 1994 game was fished out of the abandonware sewers last year and given a new life, for all those classic gamers who want to revive some of their VGA dreams on Windows 10 machines and as such it was given some attention in magazines and blogs. Some of these early avid fans were even infuriated because this new release got rid of a couple of bugs, including one that got you stuck on a level if you didn’t carry a certain item in your inventory. For most players this meant starting all over again.
When Gog games put Noctropolis on its catalogue, a few months after Steam, but I tend to ignore that site for reasons unknown, I checked some reviews and they all more or less agree that Noctropolis was a failed attempt in creating a game for adults despite promising a healthy portion of sex, violence and horror. These negative reviews made me want to check it out, because sometimes things are so bad they actually become camp or cult, like William Shatner's TekWar novels, for instance.
And the beginning is quite promising. A broke bookseller, Peter Grey, falls asleep in front of his telly and out of the static noise climbs this female vampire who takes off her clothes and jumps on his neck showing her big white fangs. Pretty impressive stuff for a starter although the upper boobs horizon is never crossed.
Immediately after that a 'Twin Peaks' kid offers the man a package that catapults him into the world of his favourite comic strip, where he takes the role of Darksheer. Darksheer is a cheap Batman clone and all villains he will have to fight look like Aldi versions of Gotham city crooks. Unfortunately also the story is nothing but a cheap mockbuster.
The game combines live-action scenes, with several actors of B-movie fame, set in a cartoonish world - Mary Poppins for adults, if you'd like - but the story soon becomes pretty moronic. The jokes are corny, the acting is horrendous, the horror is of dubious quality and eroticism means that females mostly walk around in their underwear or show their cleavage, including a grieving widow who hasn't buried her husband yet. The live-action movies may have looked cool on a 640 x 480 screen, but blown up to third millennium screen sizes persons start to look like expressionist paintings.
The first villain Grey meets is an old acquaintance. She is not a TV commercial vampire but a demon who has taken possession of a nun’s body. Her fangs are not for sucking blood but for injecting poison into his bloodstream. She knocks him out, jumps on him (again) and, during the fadeout, rapes him although she has the decency to put his clothes back on after the deed. An exorcism at the local church destroys the demon, a priest takes care of the ravaged nun and we will never hear of them again. I hope they went to a doctor for the morning-after pill.
That’s a bit the fate of all villains Peter 'Darksheer' Grey encounters. They appear, do their half-arsed crazy stuff, are either beaten or disappear in a puff of smoke and the protagonist, aided by his female sidekick, has to take care of his wounds after that. Luckily there is a swimming pool in the game that magically heals all problems on a whim.
The erotic aspect of the game looks like it has been devised by a fourteen years old pimpled adolescent for a target audience of other fourteen years old pimpled adolescents. When Peter Grey and his sidekick Stiletto, who is silently in love with him - and vice versa, visit the opera a prostitute is waiting at the entrance. It is a weird location for a working girl, but perhaps she has found a niche market in men who want to have a blowjob after an evening of Georges Bizet. Darksheer, ignoring the woman he secretly loves, immediately checks her out, using his superhero fame to get a freebie. The conversation does not help the story any further, but she does show her goods to him, although don’t expect anything kinkier than a Saturday Night TV movie.
Only one more time, so that makes two in total, I was genuinely surprised by a shock scene. Stiletto has been kidnapped by a crazy doctor who likes to experiment on people but who isn't too keen on anaesthesia. Suddenly the mad scientist cuts of Stiletto's finger and throws it at Darksheer who stands on the balcony above the operation theatre. The finger bounces against a window leaving a blood stained mark. It's a violent, sadistic scene that works rather well, but after that the game sinks back to its mediocre level. Stiletto's doesn't seem to miss her finger, and as such, we don't care either. It appears as if the scene was just devised to tell another bawdy junior school joke: "I hope he doesn't cut more than a finger on you, Darksheer!"
Obviously this review can’t get past the one and only topless scene. In a dream sequence Stiletto, played by 1985 Playmate Hope Marie Carlton, strips and morphs into the Drealmer, a villain who manages to kill people inside their dreams.
The bad guy kicks Darksheer from a building, but in the next scene he is saved just in time by Stiletto who throws Grey in the healing swimming pool. This left me with a lot of questions. When and where did Darksheer go to bed and fall asleep? Why did Stiletto stay awake, next to him, instead of going to her own apartment? How did she know he was getting murdered in his dream? The game is build around loose ends and it takes two very long monologues to explain the What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.
When the end credits are rolling over the screen some bloopers are shown and this seems to go on forever. There is also no way to stop this. So I did a Ctrl-End-Del and gave this game the euthanasia it so utterly needed.
Tags: 99. adult gaming