Feral Cat Den
Would you attempt to move heaven and earth for the one you love?
That overarching question is posited by developer Feral Cat Den’s new title, Genesis Noir, a cosmic point-and-click adventure that is just oozing with artistic flair. It’s about a detective who is ensnared within a love triangle involving his lover and her jealous admirer.
The game is played from a celestial perspective, starting with the birth (or genesis, if you will) of the universe. As the detective named No Man, players will make their choices based on how they answered the aforementioned question, and this will have various implications as he traverses through the fourth dimension—all the way from the Big Bang on up to modern times.
Along the way, he’ll discover many mysteries of the universe, such as black holes, and attempt to open a path that will lead him to saving the sizzling, hourglass-shaped jazz singer, Miss Mass. But will he be able to protect Mass from her jazz band’s jealous saxophone player in time?
The game’s narrative arc encompasses twelve chapters and each is mostly wordless. The chapters start by presenting a small bit of text, and over the course of the game, each one linearly describes one stage of the birth of the universe. Each of these sections contains an interactive element that correlates with its episodic pretense—in puzzle format.
These parts of Genesis Noir are so wide open to interpretation that the game can become a little baffling at times. However, these moments of confusion are saved by a beautifully unique aesthetic and very odd (in a good way) method of storytelling.
Visually, the game reminds me of the early blackboard animations like 1908’s French animated film, Fantasmagorie, by Émile Cohl. There are also touches of abstract animator and filmmaker Oskar Fischinger’s video works, such as 1947’s Motion Painting No. 1.
Meanwhile, the improvisational style of its moody jazz score complements the game’s visuals perfectly. The soundtrack serves up an easy coolness to the proceedings unfolding on-screen and goes a long way in piquing the interest of any mind with even a modicum of imagination—this is existential earnestness in digital format as never witnessed before. But I digress…
While the actions and puzzle-solving elements are sometimes a little on the esoteric side, they all have some sort of underlying component that lends itself to deeper thinking and the learning process in general.
For instance, in one instance I had to construct the anatomy of prehistoric, simple-celled organisms and then find them mates. In another, I found myself tapping rain clouds until they released their deluges upon the ground to create ponds—thereby allowing lotus flowers to spring forth from them and bloom.
While playing Genesis Noir, I couldn’t help but wax philosophic about the state of modern-day video games. One of the things that struck me was that while there is now a veritable plethora of games that seek to engage and offer many ways for people to interact with them, many of them miss the mark when it comes to forming any meaningful rapport with their audiences.
On the other hand, Genesis Noir has an uplifting, transcendental trajectory that doesn’t leave us behind—it swings back a hand and begs us to follow it on a collaborative journey. In other words, this is an accessible presentation of art rather than some sort of snooty, highbrow exhibition that the “little people” aren’t welcome to enjoy. Haughty, haute couture this is not.
Just be aware that this sumptuous little serving of celestial amuse-bouche is a little on the short side, length-wise. But to me, the fascinating ride was well worth it.
Genesis Noir has some great graphics so you’ll need a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. Therefore, you may just want to invest in a superior gaming rig:
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