I want to live in The Norwood Suite


#1

Between Universal Paperclips and Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, I’ve been on a real NYU kick lately, so I thought I’d round things out by picking up The Norwood Suite, the latest release from the NYU Game Center Incubator.

It’s a first-person adventure game made by Cosmo D, who also made the pseudo-prequel Off-Peak, which takes place in a similarly surreal train station. The Norwood Suite is set in a hotel with a dark musical history. It’s mostly exploration and fetch-quests, basically one notch above a walking simulator. (That’s extremely reductive, but I’m trying to get “gameplay” out of the way.)

The main joy, at least for me, is in finding keys to new rooms and rooting around for hidden passageways. To describe the world…it’s basically a vaporwave trash art palace with a Lovecraftian backstory, populated by hipsters who talk like musical Banjo Kazooie characters. It’s exactly as nightmarish and wonderful as it sounds.

Anybody played this or Off-Peak? And where the hell do you find The Fifth Tableau?


#2

yea this game is the shit. cosmo d’s soundtrack for the project is incredible and free to stream here. it’s a true evolution of the potential found in off peak, with a bigger gameplay loop, a much more thought out environment, and a higher level of polish throughout, and it really deserves to be played by any gamers who appreciate lynchian style, or just want to play a really good first person explorer. can’t say enough positive things about it.

i’m hoping cosmo will do a few performances of the soundtrack in nyc. fingers crossed


#3

I love that the characters in Norwood Suite move around and mingle with each other over the course of the game. It really makes the hotel come off as a hospitable place; like a big weird (substance-fueled, yet chill) house party.


#4

Yeah, the character movement seems pretty simple, but it goes a long way toward making the world feel more dynamic than Off-Peak. It was cool to see everyone make their way into the piano room towards the end.

I find the game really inspiring because of what it accomplishes with such (seemingly) cobbled-together pieces. It feels broad and mysterious, but I can still picture how it all fits together behind the scenes.


#5

I played Off-Peak and enjoyed it. I think about the ramen guy, the small piano-player and the polish posters from time to time.
I love games like it and Executive Towers https://daffodil.itch.io/executive-towers
Alien Afterlife
https://jeremycouillard.itch.io/alien-afteflife
Gradient Addiction
https://gamejolt.com/games/gradientaddict/263454
I don’t know if other people would think these games are similar, but I do. Alien Afterlife kinda has objectives, but really these games feel like surreal places with animatronic-displays like amateur Disney-World line-spectacles or something. Some resonate with me more than others, probably when they have strong yet subtle tones that feel off-kilter.


#6

Oooh, I think I’d heard about Off-Peak but didn’t get around to playing it. I’ll definitely give it and this a look soon now!


#7

Thanks for those recommendations! One of my favorites, Crypt Worlds, is a bit like this, albeit with some more mechanical complexity. At the very least, there’s a farming mechanic. (Patrick actually did a video about it when he was back at Giant Bomb.)


#8

Awesome. Bookmarking all of these.

The artwork peppering Cosmo D’s spaces kind of remind me of a lot of the museum spaces you can walk through in itch.io games. My favorites are the impossible exhibits that Strangething creates. Super psychedelic and minimally interactive. https://strangethink.itch.io/

Textually, I can’t help but compare Off-Peak and Norwood Suite to something like Deadly Premonition. However, I think Norwood Suite does a much better job in finding gameplay that compliments the story telling, where as Deadly Premonition, for all its inventiveness, still had a pretty restrictive minute to minute gameplay that hampered the experience.

But at least it introduced me to the sinner’s sandwich.

Cosmo D had a recent post on Steam kind of lifting the veil on Norwood Suite’s ending. It mostly fell in line with my interpretation, but it was nice to see him lay out his exact thinking. Click here if you’re curious. WARNING: It spoils the entire ending.