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Gaming articles

  • Video game named for town of Norco wins raves, takes players on surreal journey through Louisiana

    Norco Title Screen 1.JPG

    "Norco's" title screen

    Deep into "Norco," the video game, one of the characters finds herself trying to break into an abandoned mall to steal a magical object of unknown origin from the apocalyptic cult that has hidden it away.

    It's but one scene in a procession of increasingly surreal and bizarre situations in a game that counts talking birds, malevolent robots and messianic cultists among its cast. More than the people, though, the game's setting is the main character.

    The scenes will be familiar to anyone from southeast Louisiana, despite the fantastical plot. Characters criss-cross the New Orleans area, from battures along the Mississippi River to City Hall, traveling on Interstate 10, Airline Highway and Apple Street in the actual community of Norco.

    The locations give the game a visceral feel, despite it being drawn in pixel art rather than the immersive video style of some popular big-studio games.

    'Evocative storytelling'   

    A demo of the game won the first-ever Tribeca Games Award last year, sending an early signal that it could be something special in the gaming world. Last month, the full version was released on the game platform Steam to rave reviews.

    "On a good day, 'Norco' is a bastion of beautifully evocative storytelling that invites any player to take refuge in its world," wrote PC Gamer, a computer games website and magazine. "On a bad day, it cuts deep as a sobering, but loving portrait of a modern dystopia."

    "'Norco's' first scene creates an atmosphere of intimate suburban gloom," said a New Yorker article in January.

    The game is the brainchild of a programmer who goes by the name Yuts. The 36-year old Yuts, who was raised in Norco and graduated from Destrehan High School, describes the game as a "love letter" to his hometown. Mall in Kenner.

    The award at Tribeca put Yuts, who uses his gamer name in his public facing life, on the gaming map. And since the release, things have only gotten more hectic.

    "It's been a wild couple of weeks," he said recently.

    Yuts and his collaborators, collectively known as Geography of Robots, have been busy since the game's release fixing bugs and trying to keep up with the game's reception.


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