A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The primal need to survive has gripped southern Louisiana, and that doesn't leave much in the way of clear, positive messages. Characters deal with guilt and pain, do their best to persevere despite the odds against them, but some can be cold, apathetic, downright manipulative before coming around -- if they ever do.
Positive Role Models
Core of game's narrative is about desperate people thrust into situations they didn't ask to be put in, which leads to a lot of actions that may seem selfish or cruel. There are a few selfless people, but even they are often depicted with substantial vices -- such as being heavy drinkers or having terrible secrets to protect loved ones.
Southern Louisiana is tastefully and satisfyingly depicted on-screen, with many of its actual cultural/social nuances given proper representation. People of varying sizes, religious beliefs, financial classes, and races are featured. Themes of racial discrimination and targeting from corporate powers, as well as historically neglected regions containing people of color are also prominent.
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Ease of Play
The game's point-and-click feature works very well, the puzzles are decently simple to solve without being too obvious, and the game's turn-based fighting is easy to learn and master as long as you're able to memorize certain patterns and keep up with prompts that require a quick reaction to pass.
Violence & Scariness
At one point, you watch the silhouette of another character die by suicide (via gunshot). Outside of that, you come across the aftermath of horrible acts of violence, but you rarely see anything while it's happening. But it's important to note that there's a lot of gruesome imagery that can be startling and even horrifying.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Although there's no nudity or graphic sexual imagery, there are a few sexual references and implications, but nothing too vulgar.
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Instances of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," and "damn" uttered regularly.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters get visibly drunk and enjoy the sensation. There are a few people addicted to drugs that you meet along the journey. Also, it's implied that your character goes through a psychedelic experience to progress during a certain part near the end.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that NORCO is a downloadable single-player point-and-click adventure game available for Windows and Mac. As the main character, Kay, players explore a futuristic southern Louisiana, going down a rabbit hole of mystery, intrigue, and horror to find Kay's missing brother and uncover the secrets of her deceased mother. There's one instance of suicide: Players see a silhouette of a person performing the act, and violence in general is prominent throughout in the form of the gruesome aftermath of horrific, vicious actions. Cursing is also common, and sexual references are tame and infrequent. Some characters get visibly drunk, teenagers talk about getting high and take psychedelic drugs, and people become addicted to drugs due to their unfavorable circumstances. The game's controls are easy to learn and master, and NORCO also features a faithful representation of Louisiana's customs, nuances, and citizens in interesting, innovative ways. The story can get quite dark in tone and morally ambiguous at times, which mostly blocks out obvious, clear good morals and lessons for those seeking them.
Is It Any Good?
It's rare when a game leaves you so effortlessly speechless and words seem to be unable to properly represent how incredible the experience is. NORCO's formula is half classic point-and-click and half visual novel -- with a turn-based fighting mechanic to spice things up further. To single out its one strongest element would do it a great disservice, as it swings for the fences in terms of storytelling, writing, visuals, and soundtrack -- and proceeds to knock it out of the park in every category. Haunting, surreal, and beautiful all in one package, NORCO creates a futuristic nightmare for the residents of southern Louisiana that displays not only the nuances of the region itself, but also its many varied residents. By the end of the game, even if you've never visited Louisiana, enough love has been poured into the fictional re-creation of the area, you'll feel as if you've lived there your entire life.
The game can absolutely be played impatiently for those who just want to experience the main story without indulging in any extra dialogue with characters or clicking on random objects and reading the wonderfully written descriptions. But where some point-and-click games suffer from bloated dialogue that adds nothing of substance, NORCO wastes not a single eloquent word -- seamlessly making everything you click on relevant to the story, characters, or setting. You can practically hear what certain characters sound like when they speak, as every person you encounter -- no matter how minor -- has their own personality and quirks. Paired with the excellent writing are the game's pixel art visuals, which give Louisiana an unsettling, gritty darkness where nothing is as it seems and to trust would be to potentially meet an early end. If you're someone accustomed to figuring out plot developments, be prepared for many surprises because NORCO doesn't hold back. Sometimes it's morbid, sometimes it's heartfelt, and sometimes it just makes you laugh. Its turn-based fighting feature proves to be the icing on a well-made cake as a fun diversion, and the puzzles that are typical of the point-and-click adventure game genre are fun and interesting. Without spoiling the story or characters (as this is a game that deserves players going in as blind as possible), the plot contains a pitch-perfect sense of progression and character development as events come to a head, and the characters are all morally complex and engaging as most are victims of bad circumstances beyond their control. Wildly creative and impactful beyond its end credits, NORCO is a mind-blowing trip to the bayous, swamps, and refineries of a downtrodden Louisiana that anyone who enjoys an unforgettable story should embrace as soon as possible.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.