Genesis Noir is a really weird game, and trust me, I mean that in the best way possible. Who would have thought you could tie the creation of the universe to a 1940s style jazz-fuelled mystery? Well, the team at Feral Cat Den did, and you know what? It works.
The monochromatic world of Genesis Noir tells the story of a watch-peddler who’s trying to chase down a thief, only to track him down to an apartment where he’s pointing a gun at an old lover of yours. Sounds like a pretty run-of-the-mill setup for a classic tale of crime, right? Well, it turns out that the gun that he’s pointing at that beautiful lady just so happens to be a metaphor for the ‘Big Bang’… you know… the birth of the universe. What follows is a mysterious and profound tale that explores the concept of time and reality, with everything you do and everyone you meet representing the many different aspects of existence itself.
It sounds really f****g weird, doesn’t it? I would be lying if I said that I understood everything about Genesis Noir’s narrative, whilst the lack of dialogue outside of item descriptions often left me bedazzled as to what was even going on. Despite this, I was utterly engrossed in the tale from start to end. What helps ease things along is the metaphorical setup of the noir-style mystery that plays alongside it, with the small doses of romance that fuel the narrative making the otherwise scientific representations a little bit easier to understand. I know that sounds like a paragraph full of gibberish, but believe me, it’ll all make sense if you play the game.
I’ve probably made it sounds more convoluted than it is, because honestly, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy the tale of the game (though it might help). It speckles in a genuine story of mystery and intrigue amongst it’s more scientific aspects and it really helps establish a narrative that’s unique and engaging.
The bulk of Genesis Noir’s gameplay will see you trawling through the game’s many levels, all whilst solving puzzles to help you progress towards preventing the ‘Big Bang’. These puzzles come in multiple forms, with some proving easy to get through and requiring little thought from the player outside of a few minor interactions, and others demanding a whole lot of tinkering thanks to their somewhat convoluted setup. Each enigma is fun to unravel in their own little ways though, whilst the game’s kooky setup ensures that some of the puzzles will see you performing tasks that are a little out of the ordinary.
There are some point-and-click elements to the game too, especially when it comes to exploration. However, with the aforementioned lack of dialogue, this feels a bit more linear and acts as a means for players to simply marvel at the world around them. I loved exploring in Genesis Noir and uncovering its many wondrous sights, but I always felt like I knew where I had to go at any given moment.
In some ways, it almost felt like an interactive story more than anything – albeit one with puzzles strewn in to test you along the way. That’s fine, but the enigmatic setup of the tale being told would mean that it could be a little lacking in a payoff to compliment the linear approach, especially since a lot of the events that occur are open to player interpretation. It’s not a bad thing really, but it might leave some players wanting a little bit more as far as the expansiveness of the adventure is concerned.
Alas, it’s difficult to put all of Genesis Noir’s strengths into words. This is a game that does things a bit differently to the norm, with my expectations constantly shifting as I dove further into the mystery. It’s something that I loved about the game, which is why I don’t want to detail it here. There’s simply no denying that it won’t be for everybody, but it’s better to discover the game’s little quirks, twists, and turns for yourself by just playing it.
I guess the best way to describe it is this: Genesis Noir is unlike anything you would have ever played before. That can be both a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you expect from your video games, but those who aren’t afraid to play something that will continually shift their expectations are in for one heck of a good time. Just don’t be surprised if it leaves you feeling a bit stupid when you don’t understand some of its more intricate plot-points – I know it left me feeling a little dense in places…
I’d be remiss not to touch upon Genesis Noir’s presentation, with the stylish monochromatic world brought to life with a series of seemingly unbelievable yet undeniably beautiful locales. It makes even the simplest of environs scream with life thanks to their galaxy-bending interpretations, with nothing in the game ever feeling ordinary in design. Add to that a jazz soundtrack that seems to fit the tone of each sequence perfectly, and you’ll quickly find that Genesis Noir is one fine looking video game.
Genesis Noir is unlike anything that I’ve ever played before, with its enigmatic tale and stunning presentation really making for something a bit special. Don’t get me wrong, it’s guilty of being a little linear and the lack of dialogue can see the narrative feeling a little bit convoluted in places, yet there’s something so utterly engaging about the experience that it’s hard not to find yourself drawn in from start to end.
I said it at the start of the review, and I’ll say it again: Genesis Noir is a really weird game. It’s one that I’m glad I got to experience though, and one that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Developer: Feral Cat Den
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Click here to visit the official website.