[PlayStation 5] NORCO Review

by EdEN, Owner

NORCO from Raw Fury and Geography of Robots is a southern gothic narrative adventure game on PlayStation. Learn more in our NORCO review!

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NORCO from Raw Fury and Geography of Robots is a southern gothic narrative adventure game on PlayStation. You take on a journey through the sinking suburbs and verdant industrial swamps of a distorted South Louisiana. Your character is named Kay and must search for missing brother Blake who is MIA, after the unfortunate passing away of your mother. Search everywhere, from the strip malls to the refinery to the dirty ditches of suburban New Orleans, in hopes of finding any leads.

Since this one is an adventure game, you’ll be taking in a lot of text as you progress through NORCO’s story, which is why you’ll be pressing the X button a lot. It’s also of the point and click variety, so you’ll need to move a cursor on the screen with the left analog stick as you interact with each hotspot as needed. Press and hold down the L2 button to increase the speed at which the cursor moves. You can also press and hold down the Triangle button to show all of the hotspots. And if you use the Square button, you can quickly cycle between the available hotspots.

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You’ll be collecting some items along the way, which will be added to your inventory. From there, you’ll be able to use them with some of the hotspots or NPC in an area. To do this, move the cursor to the upper right corner of the screen to open up your inventory and check out what items you’ve found so far. You might need to, say, find a fuse at the gas station so that one of the NPC can fix a bike that can then be used to travel to other locations – that is, as long as you can persuade Troy at the gas station to give you the fuse in the first place!

Along with that, there will also be some quick time events – a.k.a. QTE – where you’ll have to be quick and react accordingly to each scenario. You can run into glyph QTE, where you’ll need to memorize and repeat specific patterns, or into ring QTE, during which you must click on buttons once the outer ring matches the inner ring. The timing for each of the ring QTE will be different, but you’ll at least get a short heads-up when the word Now pops on top of each button.

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To explore the world of NORCO, you’ll have to make good use of the map for each area you visit, which is located at the bottom of the screen. It’s a map that reminded me of old-school MacVenture adventure games I got to play during the age of the Nintendo Entertainment System – a.k.a. the NES – such as Déjà vu, Shadowgate, and Uninvited. Just move the cursor to the bottom of the screen and click on a square to move onto a new spot. You can test this during the first scene by moving from your bedroom to the living, which will allow you to then explore that area before deciding if your next move should be to the kitchen or the front yard.

As you progress through NORCO, your mindmap will expand. At first, only you will be present on the mindmap, but by meeting specific requirements, more NPC will be added to it. You can do this by interacting with each available NPC portrait and selecting the right options along the way. Take, for example, the first two NPCs you can unlock. This is as far as I’ll go discussing the mindmap since the two NPC I’ll discuss are mentioned during the first five minutes of the game: your brother Blake and your mother, Catherine.

By clicking on your own stick-figure-like portrait on the mindmap, you’ll be able to select from the different options. You can select that you are home again to remember that your brother needs you… because your mother has passed away. This will make your brother’s sad stick-figure-like portrait pop in the mindmap, as well as add your mother’s pixel portrait. Click on Catherine’s portrait, and you’ll be able to remember that her cancer metastasized. First, in her liver. Then her lungs. And then in her brain.

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You don’t need to be alone in NORCO since you can recruit others into your group. The first option for this will be in your bedroom, where you can interact with the stuffed monkey near the window to participate in a pair of QTE – one of the glyph variety, one of the ring variety – to prove your worth and have the stuffed monkey join you on this adventure. What if you run into a situation where you’ll have to battle against someone? Then the bigger your group, the easier things should be… right?

If you want to know more about the trophies, you’ll be happy to learn that NORCO has a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy at the end of the road. And since it’s a Cross-Buy release, that means that your purchase will give you both the PS4 and PS5 versions of NORCO, and each one has its own separate trophy list. Said list includes 25 Bronze trophies, 5 Silver trophies, and 5 Gold trophies, with some of them being missable. I don’t want to spoil things here, so if you need some extra help, you can check out this NORCO Trophy Guide.

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NORCO is an interesting adventure game that pays homage to the classics while mixing things up here and there to give us a package that just works. It’s a very dark type of game, so it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. But if you give it a chance, you’re not going to regret it. It features great pixel art and a solid narrative, and it’s the first game from Geography of Robots, so I’m very much looking forward to their next game. NORCO is available as a Cross-Buy title with a $14.99 asking price, so your purchase will give you access to both the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 5 versions of the game at no extra cost.

This NORCO review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Raw Fury.

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