Watch our review of Genesis Noir, a point click puzzle game that takes the film noir aesthetic to truly cosmic proportions.
Hey how’s it going guys! This is Tom from UDS and welcome to our review of Genesis Noir, where we’ll reveal everything you need to know before you play. If you’re a fan of all things video games, make sure to join our Discord and of course subscribe here for more reviews and features every single week. You’re not going to want to miss it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we’re living in the golden age of indie games. With tools like the Unreal Engine and Unity making creation accessible and affordable, it’s been inspiring to see what people have been able to produce. My favourite game of 2020 was an indie game, and looking at this year’s release schedule, there’s a good chance it could happen in 2021 too.
One game looking to continue this impressive trend is Genesis Noir. The debut project from developers Feral Cat Den, it’s been in the works for the better part of six years.
Ostensibly a point and click puzzle game, it sets you in the role of No Man, a mysterious being caught in a love triangle that spans from before the Big Bang itself, to potentially the end of the universe. Heavily inspired by jazz and film noir, it promises to be one of the most unique experiences of the year.
But after spending plenty of time in the oven, does Genesis Noir go off with a bang, or fade out with a whimper? Watch on to find out…
I couldn’t start anywhere else other than the art style, which genuinely makes my heart hurt with joy. Incorporating the monochromatic style of classic noir with a truly cosmic scale is a delight; you could pause the game at pretty much any time and I’d gladly stick whatever’s on screen in a frame and mount it on my wall. Without getting too pretentious, one of my favourite novels is Olaf Stapleton’s Last and First Men, which chronicles the history of man from the 20th Century to a distant future; I fell in love with the sense of grandeur and scale. Genesis Noir is probably the closest I’ve come to recapturing the feeling of first flicking through those pages, and that’s a huge compliment.
This is all augmented by its equally phenomenal jazz score. Inspired by cosmic jazz pioneers like Sun Ra Arkestra, not only does it compliment the visuals perfectly, but also plays a critical role in the gameplay. Certain puzzles will require you to extrapolate a beat from a chaotic jumble of notes, or interact with everyday objects in a decidedly musical way, such as turning a set of train tracks into keys of a piano.
This also plays into the story, which despite its grandiose setting, is very grounded, human and relatable. Without diving into spoilers, you star as the aforementioned No Man, who alongside the jealous Golden Boy, is vying for the affection of Miss Mass. After a gunshot from Golden Boy causes the Big Bang, you’ll have to find a way to destroy the universe itself to save your beloved from the bullet’s path. Heavy stuff.
But on your time-hopping journey, you’ll witness the birth and development of humanity, and what was once an easy decision becomes less and less clear. The moral quandary and desperate love story add an effective and necessary bed to an experience that might’ve otherwise become lost in high concepts.
But where does the jazz play into the story? Well, it isn’t abundantly clear, but my theory is that the way jazz finds beauty and order within the chaos of notes parallels the life of the universe. The fact that so much wonder could come from something so volatile reflects in the often hauntingly beautiful soundtrack with such effect, the next time I listen to jazz, I won’t be able to shake the image of stars dancing along to it, high in the sky.
But where does the gameplay come into the equation? Well, the reason I’ve saved it until last is because it’s probably the least impressive part of Genesis Noir. It’s a very simple experience, with no heavy inventory, crafting or resource management mechanics. Instead, the puzzles are much more tactile, requiring you to interact with the world in front of you, whether it be playing the right melody or changing the age of a star.
Nothing is particularly challenging, but honestly I’m quite glad it’s this way. It’s more of an experience, or even just a vibe than a game, and putting too many distractions into it would pull you out of the mood it’s aiming to evoke. It definitely won’t be for everyone but if you get it, you’ll really get it.
In fact, my only real criticism is that it isn’t on mobile devices. The tactile nature of the puzzles feel custom made for a touchscreen, and using a mouse or God forbid a controller feels counter intuitive in comparison. Hopefully a port will happen some time in future, and on that day I’ll happily play Genesis Noir all over again.
And that’s a wrap on our review of Genesis Noir. Have you had a chance to play it yet? Are you looking forward to checking it out? Please let me know in the comments below, I would genuinely love to read your thoughts. And while you’re there don’t forget to subscribe for more videos and games new and old every single week. My name is Tom, we’ve been UDS and I’ll see you next time.