Genesis Noir Review

Genesis Noir is probably one of the smoothest games I’ve ever played, at least in terms of appearance. The audio visual work is fantastic, presented as it is in a 1950’s style noir jazz funk with minimalist black and white visuals. There’s a somewhat grandiose tale to back up the presentation that kind of lost me at the end, but it was definitely these aspects that kept me playing, with the puzzle side of things a little bit underwhelming.

We play as No Man, a watch peddler caught in the middle of a love triangle between Golden Boy and Miss Mass. After a witnessing a gun shot fired by a jealous god – known as the Big Bang – they embark on a journey across time and space, exploring the creation of the universe through to the eventual theorised collapse of life as we know it. There are text blocks of exposition at the start of each chapter, but a lot of the story telling is done using the visual design in game. As I mentioned above, it is fantastically presented; the black and white –with dashes of yellow – art style reminds me of a funky Nelson Tethers, while the music is just simply excellent, all funky improvisational jazz and beats. I might not have been able to fully comprehend what was going on at times but man, it still had its hooks in me. Without spoiling it too much, the last 45 minutes or so freshens up the experience brilliantly aesthetically, though the story admittedly lost me for much of it.

Each chapter is based on a theme, focusing on periods of the universe’s history, from the very beginning of time, through the forming of our galaxy, to early human life and beyond. Each one offers unique scenarios to play, and range in their complexity and length quite a bit. It’s this aspect that let down Genesis Noir a little for me. Some of the chapters go on for too long in my opinion, offering a few fun things to do but repeating them too much. Most of the point and click-style puzzles need to be repeated three times, but this adds nothing to the experience other than padding. There are also fairly long stretches where we’re just walking from one scene to the next, or ones where we’re literally holding a button to progress a cut scene, that can drag the experience out.

I do however like how most of the actual gameplay parts are implemented. There’s very little direction on what to do, so it falls to us to experiment with what is on screen and figure it out form there. Granted, there’s usually only one or two things to actually interact with, but it still works well as we realise we can click on an object, but we need to also drag it in a specific direction, for example. There are some smart uses of this mechanic throughout, which just makes the more repetitive or slow paced parts feel even more misplaced.

I also came across a couple of bugs in my 6 hour playtime that didn’t help things; one mid-game puzzle had us connecting dots with lines, yet there was one for the life of me I couldn’t figure out. A quick guide search showed me a completely different layout to the one I was shown, so after about 20 minutes I reset the game. There are no mid-level checkpoints so I had to do the opening of the chapter again, and this time I was greeted with the simply solved puzzle that was present in the guide. At other times the cursor would disappear entirely, or an object I interacted with failed to load properly, leaving me to either wait a long time for it to pop, or restart the game – and chapter – again.

Conclusion

Even with these foibles, I still really dug the majority of Genesis Noir. The fantastic presentation made it easier to forgive some of the repetition and bugs, and for all the grandiose nature of the story, it was still interesting to follow and piece together. It could probably be completed in one or two sittings, so if you’re up for something a little different, I’d definitely recommend checking out Genesis Noir.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Excellent audio visual work
  • A somewhat grandiose, yet engaging, tale
  • Some smart use of puzzle mechanics...
Bad
  • ...diluted somewhat by repetiton
  • A few bugs and hiccups
  • Some sections feel dragged out a little
7.5
Good
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 9.5
Audio - 9.5
Longevity - 5
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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