Genesis Noir is a love story that takes place before, during, and after The Big Bang – the cosmic event that kick-started the universe.
It’s a game about passion, murder, and cool jazz – everything that makes for a good noir story. But also about gods, creation, the universe, and even more cool jazz.
A love triangle between three gods has reached its inevitable conclusion. With one gunshot, an entire universe is born, hurtling in the speed of light towards the heart of your beloved. If you want to save her life, you need to stop this ever-expanding universe. You need to prevent The Big Bang.
I played through a short, somewhat confusing vertical slice of Genesis Noir, and there were no gods, no big bangs – only a trippy jam session between a sax player and a bass player, and possibly the murder of the latter. But it was enough for me to get a sense of what type of game we’re dealing with here.
You play as No Man, a trench coat-clad god exploring the universe, and Earth in particular, for clues on how to destroy it. The segment I experienced starts with No Man quite literally tuning in to the music of the universe and following it to a lone jazz bassist playing in a train station.
Genesis Noir is a point-and-click title, but moving around feels heavy like everything has a certain weight behind it. When you board a train, you have to “grab” the train car with your mouse and drag it in the direction you want it to go. You have to keep dragging it on, or else it’ll stop. Developer Feral Cat Den, a small studio in New York, calls it “tactile gameplay.” I have to say it does seem perfect for something like the Switch’s touchscreen, where you can use your fingers to drag things around.
I didn’t do a lot of moving around, though. Once I reached the train station and met the bass player, the game turned from a noir mystery to a psychedelic “Simon Says.” Both characters ascended to a higher plane and a short minigame where I needed to repeat notes after the bassist. After that, I was free to improvise alongside the jazz soundtrack for a few minutes, while the notes I played turned into an entire cityscape before my eyes.
Jazz plays a big part in Genesis Noir. It follows you around and seeps into every aspect of the game. Obviously, Jazz makes up the entire soundscape, but it also affects the visuals. Not only by how everything bounces and sways with its rhythm but also by how they draw influence from Dada and Cubism – art movements contemporary to the music genre.
Just like jazz, the game feels improvisational at times, for better or worse. I don’t know if it was due to me playing a vertical slice of the game with little to no context, but everything felt disjointed, with every scene almost disconnect from the previous one. And yet, I was mesmerized by the demo from start to finish, not knowing what’s going to happen next or even why.
The sounds of a train leaving the station, followed by a gunshot, brought me back down to earth. The bass player was gone, leaving behind a bullet-riddled double bass and a discarded hat. I stuffed both items into my trench coat (No Man is a god after all) and stared into a vortex that appeared in the palm of my hand. That was when the Genesis Noir demo ended.
Playing Genesis Noir is a surreal experience, maybe a bit too surreal for my taste. Then again, it’s a captivating one, and I left the demo very curious to see how No Man’s journey to end the universe plays out. Fans of early 20th-century art and music will probably find even more to enjoy.
Genesis Noir is coming sometime after The Big Bang for PC and Xbox One.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.