Even though the staff here at iFanzine were not personally able to attend PAX, the fine folks over at Glass Bottom Games were still kind enough to let us see their press demo of Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora. While they are definitely working on an iOS version of their upcoming noir-themed Metroidvania escapade, and recently demonstrated a video of the title running on a iPhone 4S as proof, what we took for a test drive was actually the PC version. Before I get down to discussing what I just played through, let me remind all of you that it was an extremely early alpha-build and therefore none of it might be present in the final release.
While their Kickstarter has certainly played up the fact that you will use Jones’s multipurpose revolver to explore the game’s environments, and this certainly does happen, what they didn’t discuss in depth was the title’s dialogue system. The conversation trees – which came up every time Emma interrogated someone – immediately sent me back to the early nineties, when Lucasarts’ Graphic Adventures were the kings of their domain. Emma’s conversations aren’t just filled to the brim with a heavy dose of noir shtick, they’re also – depending on the options you select – often so hilarious that you’ll want to burst into tears with laughter.
At one point during the demo I had to report back to the police chief on what I had learned regarding a murder at the nearby “Slice of Pi” diner, and one of the dialogue options involved Jones asking her boss what his job was. As a reaction he bluntly declared the following: “Most days, I order folks around. Today I seem to be answering a bunch of ill-conceived questions from my newest private detective.” To which my response choices included this particular gem: “Really, who else is asking questions?” Oh, how I have definitely missed the days when genuinely hilarious games – such as this – used to be made on a regular basis.
Anyways – witty dialogue options aside – I want to assure you all that another thing you can’t truly appreciate about Hot Tin Roof, at least until you’ve played it, would be the game’s cubic art-style. While still screenshots might portray Emma Jones – as well as everything else in her world – as merely rigidly solid blocky objects, they actually move and bounce about in a very lively way. While those who previously played Jones of Fire (our review) have already experienced this animation effect – albeit to a far more limited extent – it’s so much more appreciable when you can stop to smell the roses, or in this case the dead body.
But perhaps the greatest singular part of Hot Tin Roof is not the noir-themed Metroidvania exploration, the delightfully animated cubic artwork, nor even the Lucasarts-esque dialogue trees. As I began Hot Tin Roof’s demonstration I was gleefully greeted with something that I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear: actually spoken voice-over narrations by Emma Jones, positively drenched in noir-kitsch. These not only served the purpose of furthering the game’s humorous atmosphere, they also performed the double-duty of providing the player with valuable hints as to what they should be doing next.
Of course – as a great as all this sounds – the catch is that theKickstarter for Hot Tin Roof is still roughly $5000 shy of its minimum funding goal, meaning that Jones and Franky’ adventure is still in peril. So if ever you wanted to play a noir filled Metroidvania adventure – complete with Lucasarts style dialogue trees – and coupled with kitschy voiceovers, then I deeply implore you from the bottom of my heart to help back this game. After all – as Jones on Fire has already so well taught us – ‘kitties are cute and should be saved’, so you wouldn’t want to let a fedora wearing cat like Francine down… would you?