For those not in the know, NORCO is a stunning pixel art point-and-click adventure game that looks as good as I always imagined the pixel art games from my childhood looked and plays like a game that has seen some stuff. The game takes place in a town called NORCO, based on a real town in Louisiana with the same name. Players will be controlling two characters throughout their time in NORCO. Firstly Kay, a young woman who finds herself back in the town she tried to escape to connect with her brother after their mother’s death. The other playable character is Catherine, the mother who died in Kay’s story. You play as Catherine through her last days leading up to her death. Regardless of which character is currently being played, the gist of the game remains the same: Both Kay and Catherine find themselves being pulled into a tech-noir mystery, and they are both just trying to uncover the truth and make it out alive. NORCO is one of the best examinations of real-life dynamics, relationships and problems I’ve experienced in a game since Life is Strange, just without all of the teenage angst.
As with most point-and-click games, there isn’t much more to the gameplay than clicking around the screen, interacting with a few minigames and participating in a quick time event here and there. NORCO is even more simple than most point-and-click veterans will be used to; however, what the game lacks in the technical challenge, it makes up in the mental commitment you need to make to the story. NORCO isn’t just another point-and-click game with a story stuck on; instead, it is the story. Each and every part of it is wholly married to the story and feels like a genuine, living, breathing part of the world NORCO creates.
A somber type of sadness and despair is always felt throughout your time in NORCO; even in the game’s darkly funny moments, the bleakness is always there, creeping. That is where I feel like NORCO separates itself from other games in the genre. While I would never turn away from the witticism of a game like Broken Age or the wackiness of a game like Day of the Tentacle, there is a hole waiting to be filled by a game as emotionally strained as myself and NORCO more than fills it.