Genesis Noir (Switch) Review
Where to start with a game like Genesis Noir, a game about a murder that will begin the universe all wrapped up in a jazzy Noir story. Watching the trailer, you’ll immediately notice the monochromatic cubist, abstract art style, white lines on a black backdrop, with surreal animation that tells a story of love, loss and betrayal amongst cosmic beings.
It all starts with the big bang, obviously, but bear with me here. You play as ‘No Man’, a traditional noir guy replete with trilby and trench coat. He is a watch peddler and cosmic being who happens to be having an affair with the popular jazz singer (and fellow celestial being) Miss Mass. The story begins with you walking in on Miss Mass staring down the barrel of a gun, wielded by the jealous Golden Boy, Miss Mass’ partner. You’re too late, and the gun has been fired. The projectile is frozen in time, the bullet is the big bang, and there seems to be no way of stopping its inevitable path. It won’t stop No Man from trying, taking the player on a journey through time and space to stop creation and save his lover. Stopping the big bang is no easy task; to even stand a chance No Man will experience different moments throughout the universe’s life span to save his lover, no matter the cost.
Genesis Noir is not quite a point and click adventure game. Despite it being the closest genre, it’s not quite a game in general. There’s a mix of exploration along with a few puzzles and some interactive objects and environments. The game feels like a multimedia art installation combined with the stylised and distinct visuals and jazzy soundtrack. While there are plenty of game elements, it’s all about the journey, filled with science, biology, life, the universe and everything. Genesis Noir masterfully weaves in the history of creation, and everything that follows into a Noir tale told between cosmic beings.
So how about the more gamey parts? Most are very light puzzles usually solved with minimal tinkering, although that seems very intentional. If this were a movie to watch passively, you would lose some of the charm of interacting with this story. While most of the ‘puzzle’ sequences are more just finding the right way to interact with an object later into the game, one sequence turns into a real puzzle. It stands out in contrast to the rest of the game because there isn’t anything to stump you until this point. There are hints to nudge you in the right direction, but further into the puzzle, it can get a little much. Fortunately, it can be overcome, but I wouldn’t blame people for peeking at a guide given its point and click leanings. It’s worth continuing through to the story’s end. The last quarter of the game goes all out in a visual and audio celebration of life.
While the story held my interest from start to end, I also loved the art style and all the noir trappings. The designs, use of fractals and cubist art (and other art influences) all really pop with the (mostly) monochromatic colour scheme. When you have all that jazz underscoring the game, it feels like a noir setting, imagining the smokey jazz bars. Yet, at the same time fitting into the cosmos sized adventure within, at times, the music brought Cowboy Bebop to mind. Looking at the Kickstarter page for developer/collective Feral Cat Den, I could see there was/is the possibility for more within the Genesis Noir setting, and I would love to see more of it.
The only real issues I encountered in my time with Genesis Noir were technical issues. My cosmic journey was interrupted by the game not recognising the input needed to finish a puzzle, a hard crash to the Switch menu during a big moment, and the music dropping out for the last five minutes. Fortunately, It didn’t impact me in any significant way. I didn’t lose large amounts of time or miss critical moments. I can see times where it could be more annoying, but that wasn’t my experience.
Genesis Noir may only be a few hours, but I’m still thinking about it days later. The stylish line art and jazz-filled soundtrack help make this cosmic tale stand out even more. While Genesis Noir might not be quite a game or point and click adventure, it is an interactive art piece that’s not only enjoyable but also educational. I look forward to seeing what else Feral Cat Den has in store; meanwhile, don’t sleep on Genesis Noir.
+ An enjoyable and stylish cosmic noir tale that spans across all time
+ A brilliant fusion of visual and audio that feels like you’re playing an indie short film
- One puzzle sequence goes on a little too long
- Technical issues might pop up