NORCO analysis, journey into the dirtiest cyberpunk

If we were to define NORCO in the simplest possible way one could say that it is a graphic adventure of Point and click very text based, dialogue and conversation based, but if we want to be a bit more poetic we can describe it as a narrative exploration experience which plunges us into a putrid world in which cyberpunk, southern gothic and magical realism go hand in hand. Anyway, the premise of this first draft of the independent study Geography of robots Not only is it particularly attractive at first glance, but it convinces as you progress through its intriguing story and ends up leaving a strange residue when you reach its final credits.

Based on real fears

NORCO takes its name from a real usa city, specifically from southern Louisiana, very close to New Orleans. It is not a city, in fact, it is a small village which today has just over 3000 inhabitants and whose existence is intrinsically linked to a oil refinery (New Orleans Refinery Company, acronyms that give the district its name) marked by an unfortunate incident that occurred in 1988, an explosion that wreaked havoc both in the city and in the population, both in the real ones and in those that appear in the video game; Geography of Robots work is strongly marked by pessimism this results in a situation of those characteristics, though it advances time to an indeterminate future in which the way years are measured has even changed.

Suburban decadence and religiosity mingle with neon lights, robots and mega-corporations.

At the crossroads between this context of real pessimism and the typical sadness of the literary genres on which it is based NORCO sits a adventure bathed in melancholy and fear. We put ourselves in the shoes of a young woman who returns home after the death of her mother, five years after starting a journey across the United States with which she essentially wanted to escape from the situation of mourning in which she found herself. When we came back we found that our brother is not neither in the house where we shared our childhood, nor in the seedy supermarket at the gas station, nor in the bar where the neighbors usually see him every evening; his look for It is the initial engine of this story which will soon take other paths.

As we progress in this investigation, we discover new places to explore, corners of a decadent city populated by lost souls who help us (or not) to continue looking for our brother. We do all this with the most common mechanics of the Point and clicki.e. interact with objects on stage, choose options in dialog box and looking for new ways to get to the next static screen. In NORCOyes, the range of interactions that we can carry out with certain ideas is widened, which, as usually happens when one strives to innovate, is sometimes better carried out than others: for example, there is moments of combat and active exploration which break with the parsimony of the work, but do not bring much at a playable level.

There's a very primitive and somewhat out of place turn-based combat system which, thankfully, has a function.
There’s a very primitive and slightly quirky turn-based combat system that, thankfully, serves more of a storytelling function than a challenging one.

However, there are other ideas which, as we said, give the game a fresh touch that takes it away from more traditional graphical adventures and has earned it comparisons with works of the stature of elysium disk Is Kentucky Route Zero; is the case of mental mapa section of the menu that gives us access to the thoughts of the main character, which are unlocked as we explore the game’s narrative threads. It’s like a large array of theories that must be constantly revisitedbecause it will help us draw lines between the elements of the story and thus understand what is happening, as well as how our character feels about it.

Farewell to 80s cyberpunk

Adding the mind map, among others that also more or less fulfill their mission, would not work if the in writing from NORCO was not as good as it is. There are overly ornate and poetic moments that he combines with others that are very easy to read, especially in the dialogues, and together they reinforce the idea that we visit a world of contrasts that has room for drama and comedy, both divine and human. The characters with whom we speak, in addition, waste a credible charisma with which they mark their place in this universe so well constructed.

In the mind map appear the characters, scenarios and concepts that are established as the keys to the plot.  Our job is to revisit it constantly to discover
In the mind map appear the characters, scenarios and concepts that are established as the keys to the plot. Our job is to constantly revisit it to unravel all its mysteries.

And this is another of the virtues of NORCO: how well his fictional universe is constructed. the world building of the game is marvelous and this is what ultimately invites us to continue playing: meeting its characters, exploring its world, wasting time in conversations with mediocre people who we know will lead nowhere. a futuristic and precarious society, but also religious, elitist, absurd, logical and unreal. All this framed in a cyberpunk that finally imagines the future from today, drawing on the fears of modern society to propose a not so distant dystopia in which there is something beyond typical neon signs, transhumanism and megacorporations. Although these characteristic elements are not lacking in NORCOthe game seeks to spice up its story with features more related to current reality, such as the radicalization of working-class youth or the uberization work.

There are very raw moments, others particularly absurd, and in between a range of situations that make the narrative richness of 'NORCO'.
There are very raw moments, others particularly absurd, and in between a range of situations that make the narrative richness of ‘NORCO’.

Of course, this is also reflected in his audiovisual sectionwhich is a complete delight and is established as another of the great advantages of the game. pixel art is so good that virtually any scene can automatically become our desktop wallpaper: the stamps with which NORCO reflects decadent New Orleans cyberpunk they make visiting this dystopian future almost appetizing. Those, there are times when the drawing style doesn’t seem consistentsince sometimes different techniques of pixel art, some more defined than others, which generates a strange feeling of aesthetic discordance. However, these exceptions aside, there is exquisite control of art direction beyond pixel drawing, with effects probleman excellent interface and, of course, a excellent soundtrack composed by Gewgawly I to be found in independent format on Bandcamp.

conclusion

NORCO is a brilliant proposal that takes up the basic mechanics of the graphic adventures of Point and click to allow us to explore a dystopian world with accents cyberpunk but based on today’s society, based on the pessimism of our everyday life and seasoning it all with touches of magical realism and Southern Gothic. He is a very quiet narrative experience, consisting of sitting down to read and getting lost in their dialogues, which is why it’s a shame that it arrived exclusively in English (although it won’t take long to receive a Spanish translation, according to its authors). They also invite beautiful illustrations pixel art which serve as scenery for the game, although sometimes lost in a somewhat confusing mix of styles, and a soundtrack that reinforces the solemnity from the whole.

We made these impressions with a copy of the game for PC.

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