‘Genesis Noir’: a mind-boggling game about love, murder, joy and the Big Bang

Christophe Byrd

THE WASHINGTON POST – If a crime writer, cosmologist, and mythologist collaborated on a video game, the result could be Genesis Black, the most conceptually daring game to hit digital storefronts in many moons.

Unlike most games which bend over backwards to deliver easily digestible narratives, Genesis Black examines abstraction and associative logic with unwavering zeal. A narrative journal about a spaceship that appears near the end of the campaign sums up his lofty belief perfectly: “Just because something is a game doesn’t mean your thoughts, feelings, expectations are trivial, or irrelevant or irrelevant. meaningless. . Because it is in them that resides the true beauty of a game. Here is one of those rare titles which would not be moved in a gallery.

Genesis Black takes place through a series of title cards interspersed between the playable sections. The cards lay out the principles of the Big Bang Theory – an explosion of energy gave birth to our universe. Like a chorus, they also return to the subject of myth in regards to the human propensity to come to terms with the mysteries and truths that underlie existence through archetypal stories. Here these stories take the form of events that span the gamut of creation, from the flowering of life in a bed of water to the all-consuming darkness of the world precipitated by a black hole.

Players take on the role of No Man, a tall, slim man who wears the standard outfit of a black hero: a trench coat and hat. Later in the game, he is referred to by different names: the Eternal Demon, Beat Brother, Ancestral Spirit and Time Traveler, which reinforce the idea that he is more of a symbol than a conventional character; thus, his actions must be read metaphorically.

At the start of the game, he is found selling watches taken out of his coat pockets to various pedestrians on the street like a peddler of illicit goods. Back home in a clock tower, he finds a number written on a napkin belonging to a sweetheart. After dialing the number on a rotary telephone, he hears distress sounds coming from the other end before the line abruptly stops.

A scene from ‘Genesis Noir’. PHOTO: TRAVELER FRIEND

Running, falling and crawling down stairs and streets that take impossible angles, he arrives in a building where he presses the doorknob until the door shatters like glass. Barging into a room, he sees another man point a gun at a woman and pull the trigger. In Genesis Blackof cosmology, this event is at the origin of the Big Bang.

The potential victim is Miss Mass, a singer who leads a group called the Divine Jazz Section. Her attacker is her bandmate and former lover Golden Boy, a saxophonist who is made jealous by his alliance with No Man. Seen through the lens of the Big Bang, the symbolic relationship of these three is clear. Miss Mass kept the band’s universe going until her head was turned by No Man. In a fit of jealousy, Golden Boy shoots Miss Mass and unleashes an explosion of energy that resonates through time and space – elements associated with No Man, who takes it upon himself to literally look into the explosion to see s ‘there’s a way he might be able to reverse it.

During the first two-thirds of the game, players repeatedly return to the crime scene, where the propulsive force of the shot from Golden Boy’s handgun is suspended in the air like an elongated, frozen balloon. By moving a cursor inside the tightly demarcated explosion radius, you encounter points or particles that can be clicked. Some of them lead to dead ends while others lead to milestones that take No Man to different points in Earth’s evolution – from an ancient Greek amphitheater to a feudal Japanese countryside in Harlem from the Era. jazz in the laboratory of a supercollider and finally in a place of spirits that change shape. These places are punctuated with puzzles that see No Man exchanging riffs with a musician, planting seeds in a garden and witnessing the killing of a mythological animal whose face becomes that of a constellation.

Genesis BlackThe hopscotch approach to gameplay keeps things fresh and unexpected. Audiovisually, her beautiful jazz score and ultra-refined minimalist line art are spellbinding. Alas, I encountered a few bugs on the Xbox version that required a few reboots when a puzzle crashed and the screen froze. I also had to fall back to the pause menu a few times for the on-screen cursor to work. Either way, I hope there are a few issues, which will likely be fixed in an update, that don’t dampen anyone’s curiosity.

As someone who plays too many conventional games, I loved spending time with something so unusual. Overall, there is a richness to the aesthetic form of the game that sadly leaves me with the unsettling feeling of not having done it justice.


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