Genesis Noir by Feral Cat Den
Genesis Noir starts off with the murder. The victim: someone our main protagonist is closely familiar with.
What follows is a cosmic, time-traveling journey to try and stop the murder from taking place. The game uses scientific themes like the big bang and black holes as metaphors throughout its purposefully vague tale.
It’s a narrative that requires thought. Nothing is explicitly stated; instead, it’s shown. It makes figuring out what is happening part of the appeal. Early on, I felt like the storytelling was so strong that without a word of dialogue I had a great sense of the protagonist’s predicament and state of mind. It’s moments like this when the game’s narrative shines.
Disappearing Down a Black Hole
The further the game goes on, the more abstract the narrative gets, harder to follow and connect with. For me, the more abstract turn made the narrative less enjoyable as a result.
There are plenty of moments of symbolism, small puzzles that represent deeper things. Themes like loss, depression and destiny are at the core of this narrative. But as the game went on, I started to feel more disconnected from it. It becomes increasingly more symbolic, casting aside character and plot-building sequences.
Besides some key narrative points, it doesn’t necessarily expand upon the plot in interesting ways. It doesn’t flesh out the other, characters either. It’s a thematically noir narrative that lacks much-needed depth. I wish it had developed the other characters more or had a more engaging plotline.
Complex Ideas, Simplistic Gameplay
That increasing disconnect I felt is also partly due to the gameplay. A lot of the puzzles in this game are simple; some are even monotonous. Item-hunt puzzles, overly simple puzzles that require dragging an object to another object, holding the joystick in one direction for a bit…it’s all basic stuff, but the puzzles rarely felt like they added to the game’s unique narrative. They felt more like busy work.
I don’t mind easy puzzles or simple gameplay, but I felt most of it here was not very fun or engaging. To me, it felt like Genesis Noir wanted to be more of a guided abstract interactive experience, but puzzles were added to make it feel more like a “game.” I thought the sections telling a narrative through gameplay were far more engaging than the puzzle-solving ones.
A number of the former – the narrative sequences – felt like playing a fun cinematic, interactive music video. These were my favorite parts of the game.
And All That Jazz
The strongest aspect of this game is its wonderful aesthetic. It employs a lot of line drawings on black backgrounds. Light gray tones and the use of a dark blue color add a lot of depth to every location in Genesis Noir. From top to bottom, it’s all very impressive. Everything from stars to animals is lovingly drawn and animated in a cartoon style. Genesis Noir is hands-down one of the most visually impressive games I’ve played in years.
The music in this game is fantastic. Since the protagonist has ties to a local jazz club, the game incorporates jazz-inspired tracks. You don’t hear the music a lot, but when it does hit, it’s cleverly impactful. The music fits so well with the game, it’s hard to picture Genesis Noir without it.
Its score utilizes saxophones, female lounge act vocals, cellos, hand drums, electric guitars, synthesizers and even cowbells. It feels like a grand orchestral score that adds so much to the game’s cool tone. My favorite track that’s titled “Golden Boy Suite,” captures this desperate yet dark tone that aligned perfectly with this game.
Genesis Noir is a game I wish I enjoyed more. It doesn’t have the best gameplay or the deepest narrative, but it’s still a solid ride. It’s a stylized adventure that is wholly unique. It’s not perfect, and I definitely believe there is more style than substance here, but I still recommend you check out this odd cosmic journey.
Genesis Noir is available via the Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Store, Steam and GOG.
Check out the official trailer for Genesis Noir below: