Point and Click Puzzle Review

Nine Noir Lives – Review | If Cats Could Solve Crimes

Point-and-click puzzlers. A genre synonymous with early PC gaming. Brain-bending puzzles wrapped within strong narratives, carried by a gripping cast of characters. Nine Noir Lives makes an attempt in earnest to tick all of these boxes, though with an added difference – cats!

Developed by Slivernode Games, Nine Noir Lives offers a “point-and-lick” puzzle adventure, in a gritty city on the brink of a turf war the likes of which kitty-kind has seldom seen. You investigate, by inspecting and licking (yes, literally) for clues whilst conversing with an ever-growing clowder of feline friends and foes. Playing out as an homage to classic noir detective films, you’ll need every shred of ingenuity and an unshakeable sense of justice to come out of this one unscathed.

Nine Noir Lives - Knitty Kitty Club

Murder in Meow Meow Furrington

Nope. I’m not plucking the title of this section out of nowhere. The city within which Nine Noir Lives takes place is called “Meow Meow Furrington”. The son of a powerful crime lord, Edgar Montemeeuw has been found dead in his father’s place of business – the Knitty Kitty Club. As a private investigator, Cuddles Nutterbutter is (reluctantly) brought in by the police to ask the questions they cannot. At first, it seems like a signature gangland hit. The city’s rival family, the Catulets, are the main suspects. However, upon investigating the scene and conversing with various cats, it becomes clear not all is what it seems with this purr-der…

Whilst clearly the focus of the writing and storytelling is largely comedic, there is a dark undertone to the whole tale. Not to mention some interesting parallels with our own world. For one, upon meeting Pepe, it is revealed that there is a growing dispute between two bizarre communities of conspiracy theorists. The cubists believe “Furth” to be cube-shaped, but these degenerates fail to grasp the real truth, which Pepe is only too happy to share. Furth is a pyramid! 

I mention this rebel without a paws because his plight sort of sums up what Nine Noir Lives aims at. It’s a game, a world, a story where the a-furs of these kitties play by the same rules as those of humans. Whilst Meow Meow Furrington is a bustling metropolis, beneath its surface lies an underworld of drugs, crime, and a constant vying for power. 

The story itself introduces Cuddles by having you take up a very mundane case – serving a cease and desist to a local business. Cuddles and his assistant Tabby are waiting for that one, big case that will put them on the map. Of course, that opportunity emerges in the form of the aforementioned murder of Edgar. Cuddles sets out to the club and this is where things begin to take shape. Where it starts to become clear who is really pawing the strings in Meow Meow Furrington…

Nine Noir Lives - A Murder Scene


As with most point-and-click adventures, gameplay revolves around speaking with characters, investigating lovingly crafted, hand-drawn scenes, and collecting potentially useful items and clues. Putting all of these sources of information together, the aim is to solve puzzles and not necessarily in a wholly honest and “legal” way. Cuddles can do the things that mew-reaucracy prevents police officers from doing. 

Your bag contains items that can be examined, used, or licked – that goes with anything in the world, even the other cats! Right-clicking will cycle through these options, each offering a different way to interact with characters and objects. Your journal will update with notes as you uncover more clues, either through examination or dialogue. You can also eventually travel to multiple locations throughout the city, which will become vital in finding solutions to puzzles. Items or conversations in one location may end up providing solutions to puzzles or situations in another. There’s a magnifying glass in the bottom right of every scene, which when clicked, briefly reveals points of interest for further inspection. 

The mechanics of Nine Noir Lives are thus extremely simple, instead making you, as a player, rely on your own ability to piece things together and think your way through sections of the game. What really drives Nine Noir Lives forward is the storytelling. The sense of intrigue that builds and the conclusions you may jump to as things unravel. You may be playing as Cuddles and Tabby, but you are the one solving this mystery. 

On occasion, certain puzzles require closer examination, opening up a new scene with its own ensemble of options. Again, these separate puzzles will demand that you have adequate items in your bag, but also enough knowledge to utilize your inventory in the right way. 

That said, if you wish to just experience this purr-ific plot, you can bump the game down to a story mode, which gives you huge hints in your notebook of how to solve puzzles. Ideal for those who want more of an interactive novella and less of the chunks of time you may spend stuck.

Nine Noir Lives - Noir Style

The Good

As with any point-and-click game, the onus is not on combat or depth of gameplay. What makes any game of this genre shine is the pace of the narrative and the puzzles themselves. Genuinely, the puzzles in this game are fantastic and so well layered. Using a cat-phone to call a bakery to replace a cake in order to gather information on the whereabouts of a crime-scene photographer so you can get a closer look at the murder victim is a fine example. However, most of the puzzles are like this. There are numerous strands to explore and what at first seems rather tangential gradually becomes integral in pushing the game forward. The sense of reward you get when something finally works is great and you begin to see how all of these conversations, items, and notes form an inter-related web.

The setting itself is perfect for this kind of story. Each location is crafted (I assume) with the thought of “what would be like if cats used it?”. Neon lights in the shape of balls of yarn, flavored surfaces for licking, and of course, the ever-present threat of addiction to catnip. The scenes look vibrant and full of life – Meow Meow Furrington is a vision of what a world would be like if our feline friends developed all the virtues and vices of ourselves. 

The story is also something to compliment, not merely because of the actual subject matter, but the way it unfolds. Wonderfully paced, well written, and told by a cast of clearly very talented voice actors, Nine Noir Lives makes masterful use of the tropes of classic noir detective films. Included in this is the soundtrack. The smoky, lounge jazz that accompanies you as Cuddles and Tabby get to grips with the mafioso politics at play in the city they call home is excellent. The art style, the dialogue, and the music all feel organic to the plot and help to develop the many depths of this setting. 

Nine Noir Lives - Puzzle

The Stinky

On the whole, Nine Noir Lives is an effective puzzler adventure. That said, there are things that raised my hackles. For one thing, have you noticed all these cat puns I’ve been using? Has it irritated you yet? If not, you’re being too kind! The thing is, Nine Noir Lives is obviously a comedy first and foremost. After a while though, the relentless use of cat jokes feels a little overused – shoehorned in almost. I think it’s fair to say after around 8 hours with this title, I really have had my fair share of feline punchlines. 

Related to this, the lick interaction seems largely superfluous. Aside from the odd occasion, all it seems to do is add a bit of dialogue or a joke – a comment on the quirks of a cat’s sense of taste or why it would be a bad idea to lick said thing. For a game branding itself as a “point-and-lick”, this mechanic could definitely have had a more meaningful application. 

Another issue is that sometimes, the solutions to puzzles can feel a little obscure or unclear. Things that you think should reasonably work, combinations that make the most sense, often do not get you anywhere. This isn’t always so bad although at other times it feels a pinch like you’re chasing your own tail. Related to this, there is much in each scene that really doesn’t serve a purpose. Inspecting something may give a little quip or observation, but it doesn’t build any lore or have any bearing. Instances of this wind up feeling like they’re in the game just to make you spend longer in a particular scene.

For such a resource-light game, I did have technical issues at a number of points. When I say “technical issues”, I mean crashes. The game did not merely crash itself, but also terminated the Steam client completely. The first time this happened was very unexpected and as such, I hadn’t saved my game. There is no auto-save function in Nine Noir Lives, so I lost about an hour’s worth of progress. From this point on, I regularly made use of the manual save feature, and whilst I did experience crashes further down the line, at least I had a save to go back to.


Nine Noir Lives is a wholly original take on a genre that doesn’t get much love any more. The things that are great about this game make it worth playing for sure. The story is properly fleshed out, the characters are unique and well written and the puzzles themselves really do make you feel like you’re occupying a world of complex cats and critters. That said, there are aspects here that could do to be improved and as such, I’m inclined to award Nine Noir Lives seven slow blinks out of ten.


Platforms: PC (Steam/Epic/GOG)

If you would like to see more games with Puzzle-elements, you may be interested in our review of Mini Motorways.

Many thanks go to Silvernode Games for a PC review code for this title.

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