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The RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 2nd

Ding dong merrily

The second door creaks open...there's music and light within. This is the kind of place you could happily stay for a while...

It's The Norwood Suite!

The Norwood Suite

Adam: The Norwood Suite is a game about visiting, and working in, the best hotel in the world. The Norwood isn't a great hotel because it has particularly comfortable beds or a great bar, it's great because it's a concert hall and an art gallery and a place for a bunch of interesting people to hang out and discuss music theory.

"Oh no," you might be thinking. "I don't want to discuss music theory or to listen to other people discussing music theory. That sounds like it'd either go over my head, under my radar or just bore me to death."

The reason The Norwood Suite is so great is that it delivers all of its cleverness without showing off or condescending. It's like having a conversation with a very smart and generous person, who leaves you wanting to know more about a hundred different topics, but always feels like a storyteller rather than a professor. It's a game I'm comfortable to wander around and to study, to enjoy and to analyse.

There have been many musical games, from Gitaroo Man to Amplitude and Epic Mickey 2, but The Norwood Suite is the most thoughtful and joyous one I've encountered. It's faintly sinister too, which is great if you like that sort of thing (I absolutely do).

Alice: Despite the giant stone heads, the slicing machine with feet and the head of a dachshund, the musical bowling pins dominating a hall, the eyeball in the Wi-Fi router, the book of spiders, the grasping hands around a doorway, the impossible sheet music, the secret diorama tunnels burrowing through the building, the murals of man and beast, the bedroom containing a miniature city bopping to a beat, the giant mushrooms, and the piano in the oven, the Hotel Norwood is not a strange place. It just is. I adore the bricolage style throwing together so many disparate objects, styles, and motifs so intensely that the hotel is just itself - often surprising but never kooky.

It's a great place to visit but, as Adam says, the way the building intertwines with the stories of everyone drawn to it is extra-great. It's a catalyst for a life-changing visits. I still find parts of the hotel -- and especially of some guests' stories -- popping back into my mind.

Head back to the calendar to open the door to another of 2017's best games.

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The all-seeing eye of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the voice of many-as-one.