Norco

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JaySevenZero
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Norco

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Norco for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.
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sheeldz
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Re: 596: Norco

Post by sheeldz »

Norco is the most vibe filled video game I've played in a long time. For context, I didn't play that many point and click adventure games in the 1990s, but caught up on some of the best in recent years, and Norco is the distillation of the genre and felt like it smartly played with the tropes and the gameplay of the genre.

Gameplay wise, I liked it a lot and felt the puzzles weren't too obtuse and logic-gap filled, bar the section in the Mall trying to record conversations on the phone. I found that needed more telegraphing, but otherwise I found the puzzles to be enjoyable and well laid out. Even the need to traverse the world to get into the mall didn't feel like it was too much of a stretch when it came to working it all out.

The game sucked me in with three elements that shone throughout - the artwork was just the right level of beautiful and the right level of chunky pixels. On long play sessions I could've sworn my brain was converting that resolution to a AAA-style 4k60fps game, such was the immersion. The music and sound was exemplary, feeling like a vaporwave soundtrack fed directly into a 1980s Blade Runner world, I have returned to it a lot.

It was the reveal of Million, however, that fully dragged me in - an incredible character and element of the game, with a fantastic and horrifying pay off that I had been wondering about all game. The industrial espionage and distrust of big corporations is something in the DNA of the game, and the betrayal of the town via the lost hope of the characters you meet, beaten down by the oppressive industrial leeching, is well exploited in Kay's personal struggle with Million. I'd consider Norco to be somewhat of a psychological horror game, where the games parts add up to a horrific personal tragedy and a horrific exploitation of misled townspeople, brought into sharp focus in Kay's struggle.

That being said, the humour laced throughout was knowing too, verging on the ridiculous with the Garetts and PawPaw, but culminating in the detective who you bring along for the ride. Norco has stuck with me for a lot longer than I expected, with a lot more ruminating on the themes and the tone, and I've actually had an itch to play it again which is rare for a linear-ish puzzle game.
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Sage + Onion Knight
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Re: 596: Norco

Post by Sage + Onion Knight »

It’s fair to say that Norco is like catnip for me. I loved the original wave of point-and-click adventures growing up – not just for their storytelling, but for how everything (from character to puzzle design) furnished those games with a unique tone of absurdity and surrealism that it’s hard to find in quite the same way anywhere else.

Norco does an incredible job of taking the spirit of those games – the warped sense of humour and narrative ambition that captured my imagination as a child getting into gaming – and ingeniously combining it with so much of what I’ve come to love in art and media since. Atmospherically rich music, the madcap melancholy of writers like Thomas Pynchon and Haruki Murakami, a warped and haunted sense of nostalgia… I had already been excited about it because of the artwork, and the superficial similarity to Kentucky Route Zero, but I was absolutely swept off my feet by the game itself.

I really can’t wait to see what this team do next. To balance so many tones this deftly – from daft comedy and surrealism, to cosmic horror and heartfelt social commentary – is no mean feat. For anyone still on the fence, you can also give an NPC violent diarrhoea in this game; so that’s really all bases covered.
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Rhaegyr
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Re: 596: Norco

Post by Rhaegyr »

Who would've thought a guy getting the runs from a hot dog would be a great and hilarious way of showing you the unintended consequences of your actions?

Forgive me 'Showgoer', I needed to know.
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Rhaegyr
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Re: 596: Norco

Post by Rhaegyr »

Sadly the ending didn't come together in the way I wanted it to - characters I'd loved in the first two thirds of the game were absent, plotlines were left unresolved (or rushed to conclusion) and the long fight sequence at the end left a real sour taste.

A real shame as I enjoyed the game immensely up until this point and felt the the balance of all its tones, influences, mechanics and writing was spot on.
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Julia2000
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Re: 596: Norco

Post by Julia2000 »

Norco has a great evocative start and eventually slowly muddles into a mid-to-poor adventure game with some cool art and a lot of really dated topical commentary.

Maybe it's just that I've seen lack of access to medical care and disaffected fascist youth movements impact too many of my friends and families to be interested in such a thin and often inaccurate portrayal.

Maybe I'm just not particularly interested in questions like "is the unhoused guy mentally ill or is he truly seeing something, man."

Maybe I think its dumb to have adventure game puzzles where you trick real fascists into sniping wannabe fascists via your inventory.

A big shrug.
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DeadpoolNegative
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Re: Our next podcast recording (18.11.23) - 596: Norco

Post by DeadpoolNegative »

The operative word for how I felt after completing Norco last year, thanks to the power of Xbox GamePass, was "haunted". Kay is haunted by her mother's death, by her estrangement from her brother, by the seeming ecological and economic collapse of Norco and Louisiana.

She's haunted by memories that never quite come together. Haunted by empty streets and people she barely recognizes anymore. Haunted by lost souls turning to cultish madness to find some sort of meaning. Haunted by the thought that she's not in a world that's dying, but is already dead.

I'm dating myself here, but Norco reminded me of the adventure games of the 80s, most notably Sierra's Manhunter New York. That game had a very different plot- it was about an alien occupation of the title city. What's exactly going on in Norco is meant to be somewhat ambiguous- there might be aliens, there might not be (Spoiler: there probably aren't). But like Manhunter, there's a feeling of the city of Norco being in the grip of SOMETHING. And it creates a mood of malaise that's hard to shake.

Norco isn't entirely successful. Parts of the narrative feel very drawn out, especially in the middle, and the conclusion can't help but feel majorly anticlimactic, even if an anticlimax is fitting for such a bleak story. Still, I look forward to what the developers pull off next.

--Dan
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