Week 4 Genre


LA Noire is set in 1940s Los Angeles. To what extent do you feel that this game would provide an effective introduction to the concept of genre? What are the key characteristics of noir? In your answer you should consider form, structure and language, as well as subject matter.

Through the story of LA Noire we are introduced gradually to the different aspects of the noir genre. This begins even before the start of the game, using dark colours and period appropriate music to set the tone before we even meet the main character.

Looking towards the characters we see a shining example of a noir detective in Phelps who personifies the typical broken law bringer. We see him go through various cases all while building his personality and getting to know more about him. This learning process pushes us to discover the cracks in Phelps’ mind and shows us the flawed detective character that is always present in the noir genre.

Another character that is always present within noir fiction is the femme fatale. Typically seen as a strong woman who is making her way in life by using her looks, rather than a particular talent to entangle the men in her life and make them do as she likes. Elsa Lichtmann happens to occupy this role within the narrative, controlling Phelps with her looks and charm. However she does not personify the typical femme fatale as she is both legitimately in love with him and does not seek to destroy his life, though she does contribute to his downfall.

The flawed detective and the femme fatale are some of the key elements that when combined help to create the noir genre. Though not necessary these points certainly combine to create an effective and interesting noir storyline.

In regards to structure, language and subject matter I would consider a noir to be quite simple. Beginning with an introduction to the protagonist who is flawed in one way or another typically addiction or other difficulty. We then follow some sort of crime, either as a detective/law bringer or as a criminal, during the process of solving/completing the journey we encounter a beautiful woman who we realise is the femme fatale. The story continues as the protagonist is forced to interact with the femme fatale, either through his own urges or through work. The story closes out with the case wrapping up and a revelation either with the case itself or the main character or femme fatale. All the while the story is being portrayed using a combination of snappy dialogue and intelligent conversation to enhance the serious and down to earth plot.




  1. i7931482 / Apr 30th, 2012 18:17 Quote

    I agree that L.A. Noire is a good introduction to the genre of noir as it embodies most, if not all, of the elements of the genre. As you say Phelps is a classic example of a detective of the type, a flawed, but essentially morally good character that is intrinsic to the genre of noir.

  2. ClockworKei / Apr 30th, 2012 21:18 Quote

    I think that this game is a good introduction to genre, however, I’m not sure if its a perfect example of Noir, I feel its more Neo-noir, especially as it tends to subvert so many of the roles and themes. Like Elsa herself, yes when we first see her, a beautiful seductress, we can obviously see the Femme Fatale role being fulfilled, however this is quickly subverted by her obvious weaknesses, such as drugs and her emotional difficulties, which result in her being a patient of the corrupt Dr. Fontaine.