The Norwood Suite is a first person narrative adventure with a style that I think would best be described as “trippy.” The good news is that developer Cosmo D knows exactly what they are doing with the game, using its atmosphere to make a memorable story with its own personality.
We spend the entirety of the game exploring The Hotel Norwood, a lodge filled with over a dozen characters to interact with. All the guests treat the player as their personal concierge, so we are in charge of getting whatever they need. This translates to the gameplay of looking for certain items in the hotel, which isn’t particularly difficult because of the glowing smoke covering everything we can pick up.
There are a few mysteries present in the game, though most of them revolve around gaining access to the eponymous Norwood Suite. The frustrating thing about this is I never felt a sense of progression as I approached the end of the game. This can be blamed on the nonlinear feel of the fetch quests, as I never really had any idea of where I’d find the final puzzle piece to unlock the final room.
A major theme in the Norwood Suite is based around insomnia and how it affects the creative process. We see this through several characters who complain or brag about being up for days at a time to finish their projects, and through learning about Mr. Norwood, the namesake of the hotel. As someone who has always struggled with balancing sleep and creativity, this struck a chord with me.
The atmosphere in the game is mostly affected by the characters we interact with, mostly due to the sound and dialog system. Norwood Suite’s dialog uses musical notes to express dialog in a way similar to Banjo Kazooie, where each character has their own gibberish way of speaking. The vaguely recognizable patterns of chimes and keys that could be heard while near the hotel’s guests always made me a bit uncomfortable for some reason. The whole game felt deliberately uncomfortable, perhaps to further impress the feel of insomnia.
The Norwood Suite isn’t exactly clever with its puzzles, or overly impressive with its visuals when closely examined, but overall the game gave me this great sense of presence and paranoia. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on what’s next from the developer.
Sam Adonis is a freelance writer who specializes in coverage on MMOs, adventure games, and niche communities. Reach out to him on Twitter!