The Norwood Suite Review
The Norwood Suite Review
For those with a heart for thoughtful discovery and an appreciation of unique art and music, this game is a must-play
Posted: 10/30/17 | Category: Review | Developer: Cosmo D | Publisher: Alliance Digital Media | Platform: Windows

Genre: First-Person Adventure
Release date: October 2, 2017
Platforms: Windows

When Art and Music Come Together  
 

Greg ‘Cosmo D’ Heffernan is a man of many talents. He is an accomplished cellist, a composer, an electronic musician, an artist and a game developer. His first adventure, Off-Peak, was released in 2015 and is available on Steam  for free. In that game, you explore a train station and are treated to original music by Cosmo D’s band Archie Pelago. As in real life, it is a journey of discovery as you engage with or eavesdrop on others in the station. While your primary goal is to secure a train ticket, the game is a multi-faceted quest that is all about discovery and interaction.

Earlier this month, Cosmo D released The Norwood Suite, which is described as a ‘spiritual and direct sequel’ to Off-Peak. Although the sound, the story and the themes are quite different from Off-Peak, this new game is similar in terms of style and gameplay. If you are on the fence about purchasing The Norwood Suite, I’d recommend downloading Off-Peak and testing the waters.

The Norwood Suite is a first-person adventure that begins with your arrival at the old Norwood Hotel. It was originally the lavish residence of Peter Norwood, a mysterious composer/musician who went missing years ago. Since then, his mansion has been converted to a hotel and is now a haven for musicians and other interesting visitors.

Your first task is finding a hotel voucher and getting checked into your room. This is more complicated than one might think and it sets you on a path of interacting with hotel staff and guests, running helpful errands and learning more about the secrets of Peter Norwood and the mansion.

First Impressions  
 

The title, The Norwood Suite, is a play on words referencing “suite” in both the hotel and musical context. What is immediately evident when one begins to play is the artistic and musical talents of Cosmo D. The environment is detailed and surreal, with graphic art everywhere that begs you to slow down and take it all in. There are drawers to open, items to examine, levers to pull, buttons to push, and secret passages to discover. Dialog is presented through on-screen text without voiceovers, so the audio experience is pure music. The soundtrack (which is available for purchase) is a mix of jazz and is marvelous to listen to. It sets the pace of the game and fills in any empty spaces.

TheNorwoodSuiteEmbed1

Game mechanics are very simple, using the mouse to turn and the WASD keys to move. Inventory is accessed with the TAB key and items are picked up or used with a mouse click. Active objects in the environment are clearly marked and, with a few lines of on-screen instruction, I was playing like a professional.

The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary  
 

I have played adventure games that become tedious as one repeatedly traverses the same landscape or stumbles through endless dialog trees in search of clues for contrived sub-quests. The Norwood Suite avoids these pitfalls. The environment is so interesting that I never tired of moving about because there is always something new to see. As with most luxury hotels, there are directional signs letting you know where everything is (the restaurant, the library, the pool, etc.) so getting lost is not a problem. The characters are unique in both appearance and personality. Although they do not walk around, they appear in different locations depending on where you are in the story. Dialog comes in two forms - some characters talk to you (no response required) and others talk among themselves. Dialog is clicked through, which allows you to read at your own pace.

If you get stuck or lose track of your objectives, the hotel Concierge is there to assist. Visiting him will provide you with a recap of what you need to do next and helpful (but subtle) suggestions.

TheNorwoodSuiteEmbed2

The Norwood Suite is both ordinary and extraordinary. The characters and the conversations are what you would expect in real life. Someone left an item in his/her car trunk; can you get it? If you see a pair of swimming trunks lying around, can you grab them? The cook is busy, can you make a sandwich for a hungry staff member? Management changes are coming to the hotel, should employees start circulating resumes? There is nothing contrived. It is all about ordinary people going about their daily lives.

What makes the game extraordinary is the way in which everyday occurrences are packaged in original art and music. It becomes a trip into the imagination of Cosmo D and gives the rest of us a peek into someone else’s view of a fantastic world. Each task you accomplish for a hotel guest or employee reveals something new as you move towards an understanding of the greater mystery. You are free to wander the hotel, choosing your own path and performing tasks in your own time. The game is only loosely structured (in terms of requirements to reach the end) but I never felt as though I was being forced down a specific path.

The Bottom Line  
 

The Norwood Suite will not appeal to gamers who want action and things that go bump in the night. You are not going to save the world, discover alien civilizations or triumph over evil. Instead, you are going to have a somewhat ordinary adventure in an extraordinary game world that will delight your eyes and ears. For those with a heart for thoughtful discovery and an appreciation of unique art and music, this game is a must play.

For more information of the genesis of Cosmo D’s career as a game designer, check out his 2016 interview with Ed Smith at Waypoint.

 
Unique Detailed and stylized rendering of the Norwood Hotel makes it a vacation spot you will not want to leave
+ Original mixed jazz soundtrack makes this a unique audio experience
+ Solid adventure game with characters to encounter, secrets to uncover, and a mystery to solve
+ Game saves on exit, so your progress is never lost
 
Fairly short game that can be completed in about 2 hours
 Logo
 
 
Trailer:
 

System Requirements

MINIMUM Windows:
OS: Win 7 and up
Processor: Intel i5, 3.0Ghz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 700 series, 8GB
Storage: 2 GB available space
 
Specials from Digital Download
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JustAdventure
Shelia Wilson
Its got me doing a lot but not letting me play the games. what am I doing wrong
Posted Date : 11/19/2017
JustAdventure
Shelia Wilson
Its got me doing a lot but not letting me play the games. what am I doing wrong
Posted Date : 11/19/2017
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