Southern Gothic adventure “Norco” welcomes players to visit an alternate sci-fi interpretation on the real-world, titular town located 25 miles away from New Orleans. Named after the nearby New Orleans Refining Company, a marine petroleum collection terminal that later turned into a chemical plant that opened its doors in 1920, the settlement provides a backdrop rooted in progress and decay.
This duality saturates the narrative and helps in setting and creating a distorted and at times disorienting window into a world. This depressing world is also marked by rapid advances in technology and the remnants of the Deep South’s natural wonders and hidden dangers.
Developer Geography of Robots has cited several influences for its unique take on a familiar genre, popularly including occult philosophy, conspiracy message boards, and psychogeography. These elements have come together to evoke the vague sense of being lost in transition and being caught between one state of existence and another. “The thin lines present in between the course of salvation, memory, technology, and nature always bleed together into a uniquely influential, contemplative narrative that is rooted in Southern literature, pulp fiction, and point & click adventure games, both classic and contemporary,” explains the official synopsis and description.
If a surreal tour through the suburbs and swamplands of South Louisiana sounds like your opinion of a good time, here’s what you need to know about it in detail.
Norco Release Date
As reported in a press release in January, “Norco” will launch for PC via Steam and GOG on March 24, 2022. Pre-orders are yet to open for either platform; however, you can wishlist the game or download a free demo that includes the story’s first act to get a better feel for what the indie point-and-click game has to offer. If you complete the demo and decide to continue, your progress will carry over to the full version when it comes out. It’s unclear if Geography of Robots and publisher Raw Fury plan to deliver any pre-order incentives or bonuses for completing the demo.
The events of Norco kick off following the death of player character Kay’s mother. When her brother, Blake, goes missing, she sets out to find him on a perilous journey that hinges on a security cyborg on the run from the law. While collecting the clues Blake left behind, and Kay encounters several obstacles and dangers ranging from puzzles and bullies to death cults. This search unearths a mystery than a simple missing person case, bolstered by increasingly higher stakes.
“Norco” features a complicated collection of individual and unique personalities, each with their own lives, motives, and backstories. Kay examines what she learns about these individuals and uses a mindmap to determine how she feels about each of the revelations. This additionally adds depth to her identity and the overall narrative, allowing her to piece together her past as she examines people and objects from her hometown. When Kay’s quest takes her from Norco to the streets of New Orleans, it becomes even more evident that all is not as it seems.
The Announcement Teaser shows off the mix of industry and nature you encounter in the game. The pixel art brings real-world establishments to life, viewed through the gritty and distorted lens of the near future and bolstered by a moody electronic soundtrack. As the clip shifts from each place, it looks at how players interact with the environment, examining objects and conversing with an eclectic cast. Though brief, it delivers a strong sense of the filthy, surrealist atmosphere present in the game.