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A Neon-Noir Adventure in the American South – Norco Review

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Image: Geography of Robots

Norco, developed by Geography of Robots and released in 2021, is a point-and-click adventure game set in a dystopian version of the American South. The game follows a protagonist searching for their missing mother while uncovering the mysteries of their hometown and the surrounding industrial landscape. As a fan of atmospheric storytelling and immersive settings, I'm excited to share my balanced, detailed, and personable review of Norco.

Story (9/10) Norco's narrative is a compelling and deeply atmospheric tale that combines elements of Southern Gothic literature, neon-noir aesthetics, and cyberpunk themes. The game's story unfolds through dialogue, exploration, and various interactions with the environment, creating a rich and immersive world that draws players in. The game's writing is exceptional, with evocative descriptions and dialogue that paint a vivid picture of Norco and its inhabitants. The characters are well-developed and intriguing, each contributing to the game's overall sense of mystery and unease.

Gameplay (8/10) Norco's gameplay revolves around traditional point-and-click mechanics, with players interacting with objects, characters, and the environment to progress the story and solve puzzles. The game's puzzles are generally well-designed and satisfying, striking a balance between challenge and accessibility. The game also includes a unique mechanic called "Mindmap," which allows players to organize and access information, thoughts, and memories, providing a helpful tool for players to navigate the game's complex narrative. Some players may find the game's pacing slow at times, particularly during sections focused on exploration and dialogue. However, the deliberate pacing contributes to the game's overall atmosphere and sense of immersion.

Graphics and Sound (9/10) Norco's visual style is a standout feature, combining pixel art with striking neon-noir aesthetics to create a haunting and atmospheric game world. The game's environments are meticulously designed, with attention to detail that brings the dystopian setting to life.

The game's sound design is equally impressive, with a moody and evocative soundtrack composed by Thomas Ragsdale that perfectly captures the game's tone and setting. Ambient sound effects and occasional voice acting further enhance the game's immersive qualities.

Content and Replayability (7/10) Norco offers a satisfying and engaging experience, with a runtime of approximately 6-8 hours, depending on the player's exploration and puzzle-solving pace. The game's narrative and atmosphere are the main draws, and while there may not be a wealth of branching paths or alternate endings, players who enjoy the game's story and setting may be enticed to revisit Norco for its memorable moments and atmosphere.

Norco is a captivating point-and-click adventure game that delivers an atmospheric and immersive narrative set in a dystopian version of the American South. With its evocative writing, intriguing characters, and unique visual style, Norco stands out as a memorable entry in the adventure game genre. While its pacing and replayability may not appeal to everyone, the game's compelling story and immersive world make it a must-play title for fans of atmospheric narrative-driven games.

Overall Score: 8.5/10


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