Q&A: Jazz meets existential crisis in Genesis Noir

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Photo Courtesy of Steam

A screenshot of the video game “Genesis Noir” is pictured above. The game was released March 26.

By Aidan Finn, staff writer

Noir is many things, yet it’s very easily recognized. A guy in a trench coat, a moody atmosphere, drinking problems and familiar jazz (or in the case of “Blade Runner,” seriously good ’80s synth music). It’s been argued whether or not it’s even a genre, but however you feel about it, Genesis Noir takes such notions of noir and shreds it in a blender.

Easily one of the most visually imaginative and appealing games I’ve ever played, Genesis Noir takes elements from the genre and adds a very existential twist to it. The game provides an incredibly rich art style that, despite its minimal stick-figure nature, is full of so much creativity in depicting the universe and cosmos as a literal crime drama. I had the pleasure of speaking with Evan Anthony, the creative lead at Feral Cat Den, who described what went into this project and what he hopes players experience from it.

buzz: How would you describe Genesis Noir to someone unfamiliar with it? 

Evan Anthony: Genesis Noir is an adventure game where you play as No Man, a watch peddler caught in a love triangle with other cosmic beings, Miss Mass and Golden Boy. When your affair turns into a bitter confrontation, you will witness a gunshot fired by a jealous god — otherwise known as The Big Bang. No Man must jump into the expanding universe and search for a way to prevent or destroy creation and save your love. Essentially a film noir creation myth!

buzz: How long was the development cycle of Genesis Noir from the first idea for the game to the release of the final product?

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EA: The initial concept came after we read Italo Calvino’s “Cosmicomics” in 2013 while we were working as freelancers at various web/motion graphics/installation studios. We spent a few years concepting in our spare time before committing to the project full-time in 2016. After creating a “vertical slice” demo (a 15m portion of the game intended to pitch the idea), we partnered with musicians Skillbard and publisher Fellow Traveller in 2017. In 2018, we ran a Kickstarter campaign, finalized the financing of the project and began hiring freelance pals to help with art and development.

buzz: The combination of 2D and 3D animation, as well as the perfectly combined jazz, was astonishingly good. How did your team go about animating this?

EA: We created a custom tool to import hand-drawn vector animation from Adobe Animate. This enabled us to have animation that is crisp at any resolution (as opposed to sprite sheets which have a defined resolution), control sequencing through embedded scripts and easily iterate and import new work.

buzz: Given how visually heavy the game is and its lack of dialogue, what do you hope players walk away from this game feeling? 

EA: I hope curiosity is sparked about some of the scientific concepts and historic periods featured in the game. I would love it if people became motivated to learn more and to reflect on the juxtaposition of the settings and themes within the game.

buzz: What is some advice you would give to college students aspiring to become game developers? 

EA: One, be able to create slick work, but don’t be afraid to showcase imperfection if it demonstrates your passion and personality. Two, you can be a generalist or a specialist. They’re both equally valid. Three, participate in (or create) a community and learn from your peers. Four, college is a time to be wildly ambitious and fail safely. Be naive. Be bold. Fail spectacularly.

Genesis Noir is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.  

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