Released back in March 2022, unfortunately, Norco did not receive much attention from the gaming community as a whole initially. Considering the fact that it was released in the midst of other mainstream games like Elden Ring and Ghostwire: Tokyo. The game could have lost all of its melancholic theme and an honest portrayal of a possible upcoming society behind the mainstream hype. However, with each passing day, Norco is taking its reputation up. It has also recently received Tribeca Film Festival’s game award.
But that’s just not it, there is so much more to be discussed about this game that has a completely unique fiction. A fiction in which the city itself has a personality. The characters that you deal with, and their struggles are really something that captivates you and compels you forward. Thus without any further ado, let’s dive a bit deeper into this art of narrative games named Norco.
An Introduction to Norco
In a nutshell, the game takes place in South Louisiana. As Kay, your mother has just passed away while your brother has gone missing. In order to find your brother you head back to your childhood town. Where now you have to follow a robot that takes you through the refineries, strip malls, and drainage while meeting the characters along the way.
As Kay reaches her childhood town, she’s in a state of shock and a feeling of being left behind as the town has “progressed”. The oil companies have taken over pretty much the whole town. These companies are now consuming life out from the ground both metaphorically and literally.
While you progress through the game you interact with quite a few characters and all of them have a unique story of their own. The whole setting depicts these characters dragging their feet through life as if they have lost everything. There is this hopelessness and despair in this town. It kind of gives a feeling as if the people have lost the meaning and purpose of their lives. They’ve lost so much that they’re not even trying to find it out.
The characters as a whole are affected by different setbacks like isolation, poverty, addictions, etc., and most of the questions that you ask these characters related to why are they doing a certain act? The answers are “I don’t know I just have to”. This serious amount of despair and decay is all from the corporations that have taken over the town. They also destroyed the economy, environment, life, hope, and whatnot.
One thing that actually puts us in shock is that although the town is fictional it is based on real places where people have faced similar issues. The town’s social structure is decaying, the population is becoming sicker, and the environment is contaminated and this hopelessness has taken away the meaning from people’s lives.
The game is also set up in the future. That’s the reason why we see quite a lot of advanced stuff like AI taking over the jobs and these big corporations taking over the town. For me, all of this truly depicts the future and where we are headed. (not like a usual sci-fi film but literally). Here the game raises so many questions for environmentalism as a whole.
The game demonstrates how low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted by the petrochemical sector. Personally, it seems that Norco pushes the narrative and emphasizes how crucial community participation in environmental decision-making is.
The narrative acts as a mirror of the difficulties many real-world towns today face. When they do not focus on keeping a balance between economic development and public health and environmental protection which makes this game one of its own kind.
I personally don’t know of any such games that push this narrative so well in a way that it captivates and compels the players. Norco dealt with difficult subjects like environmentalism and grief in such a beautiful way and without overwhelming them.
Players receive a memorable yet unique experience that is totally unmatched thanks to the game’s immersive plot, beautiful pixel-art images, and eerie soundtrack. Expecting such a thought-provoking game from an indie game developer is also something that puts you in shock. So kudos to the developers for that as well.
Norco is undeniably one of those games that impress players on a whole other level. It also encourages them to think critically about significant issues affecting our society right now.
There is so much more that could be discussed about the game but so far guess that’s just about it. Do let us know in the comment section below what you think about this unique yet interesting game named Norco. To know about What makes Dome Keeper so addictive? or for more latest updates, news, and guides, stay tuned to Retrology. We’ll see you in the next one.