This atmospheric stealth action game delivers an engaging setting and mood, but the temperamental controls and unnecessary characters prevent it from truly shining. Calvino Noir has that rich, evocative setting that many Hollywood noir movies hit perfectly: dark, stormy nights for each mission that never let up, a narrator commenting on the ills of society and the plight its people are trapped in, and morally ambiguous characters searching for redemption and who are victims of circumstance. Plus, the level design is striking thanks to the decision to keep the visuals in black and white, only punctuated by cones of light from lamps or flashlights. It makes you feel like you're playing a piece of footage taken from a classic movie, which gives the gameplay a certain level of urgency and weight. All this being said, players should be aware that the point-and-click nature of the gameplay can be a bit iffy; characters will sometimes get confused by your directions and wander into danger, forcing a restart of a mission or a checkpoint.
But one of the largest issues that plagues Calvino Noir is that some of the characters seem unnecessary. For some reason, you're forced to switch among each one of the main three characters, because each specializes in a certain skill (knocking out guards, using machinery, or picking locks). This has three inherent problems: First, it forces a lot of backtracking and micromanagement of units, which only pads gameplay. There's nothing more frustrating than sneaking through a level, only for a character who's been left behind to suddenly get discovered by a patrolling guard. Second, the sense of immersion in the game is shattered when you get to an important piece of evidence, only to be told that everyone needs to be present before you can move forward. Third, much of this could've been wrapped up by focusing on one character or allowing players to select which character they want to play at the beginning and adjusting the tale accordingly. Calvino Noir is a slick and stealthy action title that does justice to the film noir aesthetic, but it also manages to stretch itself too thin with its gameplay and controls.