Game

Review: Genesis Noir Is a Visual Treat, but Not a Good Game

Screenshot: Genesis Noir

Genesis Noir is one of those games I’ve been seeing for years on the various indie games circuits we cover here in Chicago. My first impression of this game was its visual style—those gorgeous blacks, shades of gray, and whites over impossible, mostly space-like visuals. I didn’t know what it was about then, but I knew I wanted to play it. Unfortunately, when I tried it, I could only describe most of the gameplay as “inexplicable.” I was still eager to get a chance to play the full version, but unfortunately, Genesis Noir is a pretty game with not much gameplay substance.

Genesis Noir is a point and click adventure game with a killer aesthetic. It’s about three jealous gods that represent various ingredients to creation. You play as No Man, as you attempt to stop Golden Boy’s big bang against the lounge singer Miss Mass. What results is an epic that spans epochs as you witness the birth of creation, and watch it as time marches forward. It’s an incredibly self-indulgent experience that I saw one reviewer describe as “not possible outside of a video game.” To that: hard disagree.

Screenshot: Genesis Noir

While there are few gameplay mechanics in Genesis Noir, the ones that do exist get in the way of the story telling. Genesis Noir doesn’t act like any point and click adventure game you’ve played before, for better or worse—and it’s mostly for worse.  Most point and click adventures put you in a space, and allow you to explore by clicking around. Genesis Noir does the same, but sometimes the scenes you’re in are so abstract, it’s hard to even get started. Sure, what I’m seeing on the screen is cool—but when the game takes my mouse cursor and replaces it with an unknown mechanic with little clues, it’s a little frustrating. The gameplay isn’t innovative, or fun—it often just gets in the way of displaying the next visual. I would have appreciated Genesis Noir more as a short film than in its current form.

Games like Genesis Noir tend to be short. They don’t have much substance because they’re just a “one trick” sort of experience. Genesis Noir is certainly “one trick” but it doesn’t have a fun one, nor is it short. Instead, Genesis Noir is a long, drawn-out experience that I suffered through just to see if it has a satisfying payoff at the end. It doesn’t. Instead the end is one of the most pretentious, tedious experiences I’ve ever experienced in this medium. It might sound like I’m being extremely hard on Genesis Noir—that’s because I am. As much as I enjoyed its visual style, I just found it to be an incredibly boring game that was not just unfun, but an absolute chore to play.

Screenshot: Genesis Noir

I can’t stress enough how much of a chore it was to get through Genesis Noir. Part of the problem was just how abstract the story was. Finding a stopping point was difficult, because it was hard to tell where a certain section was going gameplay and story-wise. Often when you’re given a chance to interact with the world, or solve a puzzle, the mechanics aren’t clear. In fact, often there isn’t even a cursor on the screen. You just have to move your mouse around and hope to figure out what clicking and moving actually does. Genesis Noir isn’t the first game to employ such mystery mechanics, but it does it so often, and in ways that are usually broken.

Games are art. That’s an established fact that doesn’t need argument. But it feels like Genesis Noir is presenting that argument anyways, by only providing the assertion of their artistic nature without making an engaging video game to back it up. While it has an incredibly interesting concept, and I enjoyed the idea of a noir investigation of the big bang, I didn’t enjoy Genesis Noir.

Screenshot: Genesis Noir

Genesis Noir is available now via Steam, The Epic Game Store and also on Nintendo Switch and Xbox.

 

 

 

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