Andy tackles an FMV mystery.
Hard-boiled noir had something of a renaissance in the late ’80s and ’90s. There was James Ellroy’s acclaimed L.A. Quartet, a series of dark crime novels set in post-war Los Angeles. On the big screen, Curtis Hanson’s film L.A. Confidential (itself adapted from an Ellroy novel) won two Academy Awards. And a new genre, neo-noir, came into its own with films such as Michael Mann’s brooding crime horror Manhunter, Alan Parker’s sinister occult mystery Angel Heart, and David Lynch’s beguiling Blue Velvet. After the flashy excesses of the early ’80s, it seemed people were ready for a return to the darkness that filled the pulpy pages of Black Mask in the ’40s and ’50s. Cynical private dicks like Philip Marlowe walking the streets of Los Angeles solving mysteries for $25 a day, plus expenses, and stumbling into conspiracies involving seductive women with dark secrets. These well-worn cliches were often subverted, notably in The Big Lebowski, where the Coen Brothers span a dense Chandlerian mystery, but replaced the detective with a stoner. The Dame Was Loaded, on the other hand, revels in these cliches, amplifying them to a comical degree.
Developed by Beam Software and released in 1995, this point-and-click adventure game delights in another popular ’90s trend: Full-motion video. You play as the preposterously named Scott Anger, a detective from the Sam Spade mold with, yes, a tragic past and a drinking habit. “I’d been out of the office for a month doing a little too much thinking and a lot too much drinking,” he monologues over FMV footage of him walking through a dark alley, haunted by ghostly images of screaming women and laughing men. “Now I was out of the gutter and back at my desk I needed something to get me back into the swing of things, then she walked in.”
The story leans hard into noir tropes from the very beginning, with a sad, beautiful woman walking into Anger’s office and sharing a sob story. Her name is Carol Klein, she’s from Oregon, and she wants you to find her brother. But there’s a catch: You have an important job in New York coming up, leaving you with only three days to crack Klein’s case. While FMV games are often fairly static, dull affairs, involving little
One of several loaded dames you’ll meet.