GAMING

Nirvana Noir: How Feral Cat Den Is Bringing A Sequel To Life In Glorious Technicolor 

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It started with a love triangle… 

Then, a BIG BANG. 

Now, as the universe expands, so does Feral Cat Den’s catalog! We’re excited to announce Nirvana Noir; the sequel to the acclaimed indie Genesis Noir

With a stunning art style, and a jazzy, addictive soundtrack, Genesis Noir stole our hearts when it launched back in 2021. Nirvana Noir adds color to the beautiful expanding Noir universe and even more jazzy tunes to enjoy. To share more about the sequel, we asked Evan Anthony, Creative Lead at Feral Cat Den, to shed some color on how it came together, and how it ties into the original Genesis Noir story. 

How does Nirvana Noir expand on the universe of Genesis Noir? 

Evan: Genesis Noir tells the story of the Big Bang: the birth of our universe, but also a gunshot fired in the heat of a cosmic love triangle. The player explores this universe from the first moments of creation, to the emergence of life in primordial oceans, the history and future of mankind, all the way up until the very last explosive moments of the Big Bang. Genesis Noir tells a story through the past, present, and future of our universe, but only briefly introduces the cosmic city in which this Big Bang was fired in. After completing Genesis Noir, we were left with so many questions about this city!  

What is it like to live in a city where a gunshot can create the entire universe? What is it like to walk down the streets, what would you find in a dark alley, what laws govern this place?  

What other characters might inhabit this strange world? What are they like, who do they love, what conflicts do they find themselves caught in? 

Nirvana Noir explores all these questions. While the streets of our home in New York City seem endless, a metaphysical metropolis where imagination embodies the unknown into steel girders and stomping feet and rioting crowds and alleyways filled with stellar bodies, well that seems unfathomably bigger! To expand the universe of Genesis Noir has been an exciting creative and technical challenge for our team, and we’re eager to see where it takes us. 

What role does the soundtrack play in Nirvana Noir, and is it as prominent in as it was in Genesis Noir? 

Evan: The soundtrack plays a similar role to the first game, definitely as prominent, interactive, and ‘sound-toy-y’. It’s like a character that plays a supportive role but then comes to the fore in various ways, sometimes quite unexpectedly. And like the first game, there are moments where the characters are holding various instruments and playing music. We’re so lucky to work on a game that draws attention to the music in this way. 

How does Nirvana Noir differ from Genesis Noir in gameplay mechanics? Is there anything new players can expect? 

Evan: We are still very interested in the tactile interactions, generative art, simple puzzles, and musical toys that we featured in Genesis Noir, but with Nirvana Noir we’re layering in a richer plot, larger environment to explore, and dialogue interactions. 

While in Genesis Noir, the player progressed through individual levels that featured bespoke interactions and settings, Nirvana Noir tells a story of conspiracy and intrigue interwoven throughout the city. Players will see how the different areas and characters in this cosmic city change as the plot unfolds. 

Players can expect a new dimension of gameplay through dialogue based interaction, which feature fun and bespoke ways of interacting with text. Players will cut up words, throw them around, dodge and break text blocks, and find truth hidden within word bubbles.  

What inspired you to bring full color to the highly recognizable and deliberately black-and-white noir universe? 

Evan: At the start of Genesis Noir development, we imagined the entirety of the game in black and white. But as we dove into the world and watched the characters take on a life of their own, we realised the themes of the game were drawing us to (spoilers) introduce color in the final act. Introducing vibrant color to the player after spending so much time in a world of black and white created a very memorable moment – No Man’s first and final decision in the game. To live a life of color and crime, or walk away into the monochromatic darkness. 

This decision became the two endings of Genesis Noir, and we were fascinated by the idea that both of these endings could be canon. Perhaps No Man chose the impossible, and found himself split in two realities. One world, his city drenched in rain and moonlit shadows in the vain of 1940s/50s classic film noir like The Third Man. The other a world of psychedelic color vibrating under the hot sun of 1960s/70s neo-noir films like The Long Goodbye. 

Contrasting these two palettes has provided us with lots of creative opportunities. Plus, we found out we missed working with color! 

Were there specific songs or artists that inspired the music or style of the game? 

Evan: The new period setting of the 60s/70s-inspired timeline allowed us to dig into a really exciting time in popular music. While there’s various strands of psychedelic pop music at play in the score, we’ve found that some of the darker material from that era best supports the mystery that No Man finds himself wrapped up in: The Doors, Velvet Underground, Love, Jefferson Airplane, some bits of Pink Floyd, and Silver Apples are a few of the artists we’ve been drawing from. There are some more obscure refs in there too but we’re actually finding the better-known artists are more useful to mine for period/genre tropes that resonate with the theme.  

For the 40s/50s timeline, we’re finding ourselves going backwards in order to contrast with the colourful 60’s timeline.  In the first game we were exploring Jazz influences that went right up to the 70s as No Man went on his trip through the universe. In Nirvana Noir, No Man is spending a lot more time pounding the streets, doing good ol’ gumshoe detective-work so we’re digging deeper into classic film noir soundtracks than we did on Genesis Noir. Bernard Hermann and Jerry Goldsmith are constant inspirations. 

What should players be most excited about in Nirvana Noir? 

Evan: Players should be jazzed about meeting new characters in a plot chock full of intrigue and mystery that culminates in a psychedelic climax. Explosions and arson! Drugs and drama! Lovers and corrupt cops! An exploration of the cosmic and metaphysical wrapped up in a raucous pulp exterior.  

They should also get ready for engaging interactions filled with the incredible music of IGF-winning Skillbard, all inside in a city of everlasting imagination. So buckle up, hit the streets, and embrace the Bigger Bang! 

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