Norco review: A strange and beautiful interrogation of religion

I stopped going to church about two years after Katrina.

For one thing, my mother had a problem with the Catholic Church’s stance on divorce – my parents divorced when I was 6 years old, civilly, respectfully and in the best interests of all parties involved. interest – and that slowly dwindled our habit of attending Mass. Then, in the midst of everything it takes to rebuild a home after a demolition, from battling insurance companies, to finding the right contractor, to renting a temporary place to live. raising two children, catechism classes are no longer a priority. The storm itself was not the sole reason, but the reality of the aftermath. So I stopped going.

For a long time, I have not renounced my religion. In fact, I have become actively grateful for its absence in my life. I have seen the pitfalls of its institutions, the mistakes at the hands of its zealots, and, in my most skeptical moments, the grimaces of those who believe in it. How can someone believe in anything so blindly, despite the setbacks surrounding it? I didn’t understand that belief.

A figure staring out a window in Norco

Image: Geography of robots / Raw Fury

Norco, the point-and-click adventure game based on the New Orleans suburb of the same name, is an experience full of mystery. Its text is poetic and bright, which ignites the creative fire within you. You start off as Kay, returning home after the death of your mother, Catherine. You leave home for the wrong reasons, with all the predictable doubts and frustrations still in the air. As you fill in your background story, your inner monologue overlays your childhood memories and landscapes. You remember the years you’ve been gone, including the war you’ve been in. While retelling the story of hiding in a cargo ship, you have three dialogue options: “I prayed.”; “I slept.”; “I forgot.”

I was faced with these choices twice: once when playing the demo and once when playing the full game. Although not a religious person, I have chosen “I pray” every time. It was a reflex, no doubt, and didn’t want to try another path.

Entering Kay’s childhood home, you quickly begin sifting through pieces of life that have been frozen in time. In your old bedroom you find books, posters and mementos, including a stuffed monkey that you can choose to bring or not. Elsewhere in the house, you find your mother’s clothes and medicine, and videotapes of her war memories. In the backyard, leaning against a shabby pickup truck, you find Million, the runaway robot your mother took back years ago. Million informs you that your brother Blake has gone missing, and so you embark on a journey to untangle the past and future of your family and the town itself.

NorcoThe pixel art of the pixel is very vivid and like the stained glass in a church. The first act focuses on Norco’s landscape, from its refineries to its marshy terrain to its smashed suburban architecture. The second action extends beyond Norco, switching between Kay and Catherine’s perspectives, as you travel throughout the Greater New Orleans area. You search for clues at City Hall, and at concerts, to enter the abandoned Promenade Shopping Center, where a group of enthusiasts are camping with information related to your work. Finally, the third act is all the more fanciful. In your quest to find your brother, you dive into the swamp and tumble through scenarios that are difficult to distinguish between reality and nightmare; On the way, you encounter a giant bird, covered in mud, eyes have been stolen. Norco also offers some really solid comic relief, from launching a cat through the ceiling to a lengthy story about a guy fooling himself.

New Orleans in Norco

Image: Geography of robots / Raw Fury

The pixelated style also embodies the comfort and majesty of a Louisiana sunset, its blocky beauty reflecting the density of the humid summer air. I’m famous for being a lover of sunsets and sunrises. I have hundreds of pictures, each depicting a distinct color patch of the sky. I miss the special ones, and those who sat with me beneath them; I remember when the humidity was suffocating and hugging me tight. Today, my friends will text me, You see this damn thing? and i will answer, Yeah, can you believe it? With every new pixel scene that passes through my computer screen in NorcoI want to text my friends, You see this damn thing? looking for someone who can answer, Yeah, can you believe it?

Norco combines a multitude of genres to tell its story, including cyberpunk, mystery, and Southern Gothic. The latter imbues the entire game, in both the visual and textual sense, with its appreciation for the landscape. This region is being ravaged and poisoned by technologies: those of our world, like refineries and smartphones, and those that are not quite ours, like the damaged cloud, for profit the characters upload their memories. NorcoFraming it as a mystery allows you to piece together these technologies to destroy your homeland.

While the game is primarily a simple click and direct story, some of its side stories are mechanically flawed. One such side story takes place at a puppet show beneath a highway overpass. In it, a king crocodile whose baby was killed by a shrimp fisherman asks you to find this shrimp fisherman and kill it, in return for the crocodile’s obedience. You navigate the swamp from an overhead perspective, on a map made of strobe lights. When you find the shrimp fisherman, he asks you to kill the crocodile instead. You make a choice.

Panoramic shot of a corner shop in Norco

Image: Geography of robots / Raw Fury

I like point-and-click games for both the company they can afford and the agency they keep; I also love what I learned about myself in the process. In the best, worst or any other highest version of my life, what should I do? What I say? Do I take the monkey with me? Will my compassion for my brother replace my resentment for his actions, or vice versa? Will that choice be different tomorrow?

In Norco, I could be a different version of myself – more virtuous, or, at least, someone moving towards that. I can apologize for my absence. I was able to partially bridge the gap between myself and my family. I can team up with an eco-terrorist and break into the refinery that destroys my town.

I chose to kill the shrimper. I shot him, and blood splattered all over the screen. I went back to the crocodile to tell him that I had completed his task, but the crocodile laughed in my face and ate me regardless. My choice, regardless of my intentions, was debated.

As you fall deeper into the underworld of Norco, what you are asked to believe becomes more extreme. When faced with the possibility of an angel, you have two response options: “No way” or “What if you’re wrong?” I selected “No such thing.” Another character countered, “When the freighter sped down the highway, didn’t you pray? You are no stranger to the clear light that clears all doubts. That is the essence of faith”.

I froze, embarrassed at how quickly I had forgotten. I yes prayed – twice.

Characters wait for a puppet show in Norco

Image: Geography of robots / Raw Fury

As I got older, I found myself yearning for religion. The thought of something bigger than me, something to quell my frequent questions, seems good. I have friends who value their religion, and I envy that ritual and comfort. But when I pass Norco, I realized that while I lacked religion, I had a lot of faith. I chose to stay in Louisiana, despite all the evidence against it. Despite the rising cost of living and a job market built to meet the needs of the tourist economy, I stayed. Norco is part of an area where the air is so polluted that it is called “Cancer Alley”; however, legislators are still trying to make Louisiana a “conservation state” for fossil fuels. I stay here. And with each passing hurricane season of length and intensity, I stay. After Hurricane Ida, as I sat on my porch while New Orleans was without power for days — in Norco’s case, weeks — I still marveled at the gift of each sunset, the Louisiana sky that never missing a beat.

Norco ends on a visceral note that will speak to those loyally attached to Louisiana, but also to anyone looking for a story of beauty, oppression, and ultimately hope. The past and the future combine, and my reaction is unbridled. As I heave and sob in front of my computer screen, I think about trust again – trust is needed to be here. If you don’t understand that faith, Norco could very well convince you.

Norco was released on March 24 on Mac and Windows PC. The game has been evaluated on PC using a pre-release download code provided by Raw Fury. Vox Media has an affiliate partnership. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy can be found here. Norco review: A strange and beautiful interrogation of religion


Aila Slisco is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Aila Slisco joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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