Pack your bags for a surreal stay in The Norwood Suite [official site], the new first-person adventure game from the fella who gave us an odd train station in Off-Peak. Cosmo D launched The Norwood Suite last night and it's pretty great. Sent in on a covert mission, we meet guests and staff, run errands, poke about, and explore this beautiful place. Music runs through the whole game -- and the hotel itself -- exploring the legacy of a famous musician and those caught in his wake. And as Cosmo is a musician himself, it has a kicking soundtrack.
The Norwood Suite is a music game. It's about people who create music, how they create it, the impact music has on the lives and bodies of musicians as well as their families and mere listeners, how music is idolised and disrespected, the struggles of collaboration, and the ways moneys affects all this.
Revered musician Peter Norwood once held court in his strange and sprawling mansion, see, but after his disappearance it became a hotel. At the time we enter, a corporation is plotting to take over, a DJ has held exclusive parties in the basement for 300 weekends straight, an energy drink company is pursuing hot venues, a dying former member of Norwood's ensemble has returned, and several musicians are trying to figure out what to do with their craft and their careers.
Everyone's life is touched by music and every part of the hotel is too. Speakers physically throb to Cosmo D's soundtrack. Norwood's album art hangs on walls. When people speak, they blurble garbled music and subtitles translate. Some walls are papered in sheet music. Press your ear to a locked bedroom door and you'll likely hear playing. Sculptures are musical. Even an oven hides a baby grand piano.
Oh yes, it is a surreal place. Items, symbols, themes, and motifs repeat all over. It's so full-on that I had no chance to resist or even find it strange; The Norwood Suite is so fully itself that nothing is out of place. It's that sort of dreamlike space where everything feels natural as patterns emerge. That said, some of the sights are still delightful surprises. It's funny too.
Puzzling is nice and light, mostly about running errands (people seem to think you work there) and poking around to find items and ways into new areas. People shift around the hotel as events unfold, so backtracking has benefits too.
This is a good video game. Not that this is Wot I Think or anything - I don't do that. But it is great, so there you go.
Oh, one more small detail I like: as you move from room to room, doorways and entrances turn black at a certain distance. Each area becomes enclosed. Coupled with theatrical spotlighting, it focuses spaces in a way I find really pleasing.