Genesis Noir: Video game cracking best of 2021 lists made by RIT alumni

Video Games

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Genesis Noir, an indie game with an unmistakable look, has found itself cracking a number of “best of” lists for 2021. It holds the ten spot of best rated Xbox Series X games this year on Metacritic, and placed in the 10 in the 20 top games for Paste Magazine. The game is available on Xbox, Switch, and PC.

And as always, there’s a Rochester connection… It was made by RIT alumni.

The team is headed by a company now known as Feral Cat Den, an indie game studio. For Genesis Noir, Evan Anthony served as the creative lead, and Jeremy Abel served as the technology lead.

Unlike many current RIT students, who are in the current RIT MAGIC Program for video gaming, Anthony and Abel had a background in RIT’s New Media Design background.

They got a big boost from the first ever New York State Game Dev Challenge, winning for their demo in 2017. The $12,000 reward powered them forward into getting the game ready for the 2021 release.

Rob Mostyn, creator of the Game Dev Awards and MAGIC Hub Coordinator at the MAGIC Center at RIT, says that this competition was funded by Empire State Development, and was meant to keep gaming money — the now over-billion dollar industry — in New York.

“It was a very, very unique style, and I imagine the judges immediately saw that and jumped on that,” Mostyn said. “And early in development it can be hard to define something that unique early on, so the fact that this team had that set up was really impressive.”

The team’s artistic eye and sense contributed to the game’s incredible look. It’s inspired by comics and noir, and in almost all in black and white, with tasteful accents in silver, gold, and blooming whites.

“It’s a game where you jump into the universe and kind of witness creation as a film noir,” Anthony said, adding that the low-color style helped the small indie team create and render without the benefit of big company resources. “To pay homage to the film noir genre, we knew we wanted to be in black and white, and have high contrast, all those great visual qualities of that genre. “

Genesis Noir follows the journey of a time keeper/watch salesman/detective trying to save god himself, and for the player to do that, have to stop the Big Bang, depicted as a gunshot.

In such a stylized game, the actual gameplay has to be equally immersive, without taking away from the visuals themselves. Mostyn, in addition to praising the visuals, said that the game had a very strong “loop,” referring to the cycle of action for the gamer, as they face challenges, rewards, all balanced to keep the player engaged

“We wanted to give the player various playgrounds to play,” Abel. “On of the primary examples of those is in the jazz level, where the whole interaction builds up to you have this freeform improvisational kind of moment where you can play music along with the game itself.”

On that note, the game features no dialogue. It is driven by the facial expressions of the main character, the auditory motion of the game comes from its incredible soundtrack. The team found just the right collaborator to combine the classic jazzy noir sounds, bebop, and with the notable sounds in cosmic jazz, Sun Ra and Globe Unity Orchestra.

“We worked with the incredible crew at Skillbard in London,” Abel said. “We knew we wanted a lot of jazz music, but we also wanted a bit more of a chaotic, avant-garde approach… We worked really closely with them during the entire development, and they contributed not just music and sound but also ideas for interactions. They’d often add details to sound effects that made things even more responsive than we originally imagined.”

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