Firstly of the point-and-click journey Norco, protagonist Kay throws her cellphone into the Rio Grande. Moments earlier than, we witness conversations together with her brother Blake, who calls Kay with determined updates concerning their mom’s most cancers signs. As we study these calls, the strains of two crudely-drawn frowny faces glow over the silhouettes of Kay and her brother on a video chat. By throwing her cellphone away, Kay distances herself from a childhood spent between “devastating rituals” in a city exploited by the native oil business. Norco’s characters have a sophisticated relationship with the previous, and it’s encapsulated completely by their parasitic relationships with their telephones.
Norco switches between Kay’s perspective and that of her mother Catherine. Catherine’s timeline covers the weeks main as much as her dying, and her misadventures utilizing a gig employee app known as “QuackJob” that she downloads as a way to pay an more and more giant pile of medical payments. The app permits Catherine to work for an organization known as Superduck and decide up varied duties (mainly fetch quests) to earn a faux digital forex known as “$QCK.” When Catherine arrives at a warehouse for one in every of her Superduck duties, she meets the determine behind the corporate. It’s not a Chad in Patagonia however an enormous monstrous fowl with a community of writhing flesh beneath its wings. It’s right here the place we study that Superduck is a kind of virus that traverses know-how and vegetation alike.
Though Catherine’s involvement with this gig work is in the end what brings her down a darkish path, her cellphone can be the primary software that empowers her to maneuver by the world. She travels by way of rideshare on a tiny account of $40 or so. She makes use of her cellphone to find secret statues hidden in augmented actuality and unlock new areas. In one other part, the savvy use of her cellphone permits her to document and expose hypocrisy in a cult. However ultimately, it’s all in service of Superduck.
Exploring the city of Norco reveals a world sprinkled with individuals struggling to make ends meet. At one level, when you converse to a lanky silhouette hunched over a automobile, the character tells you they began driving for a rideshare firm, however it’s not going so nicely as a result of they’re frightened about their grandpa’s automobile breaking down. Catherine’s good friend Dallas describes how he moved from Craigslist to Superduck to make money, however in actuality, he simply needs to spend extra time together with his household reasonably than engaged on gigs all through the night time.
Telephones are sometimes touted as the right software to maintain involved with the actual individuals we love, however Norco paints a extra real looking image of our up to date relationships with these gadgets. When Catherine texts Kay, she doesn’t hear again from her daughter. As an alternative, what we see is a gradual stream of notifications from a collections company about her medical payments. Though telephones can be utilized to keep up and strengthen relationships, they’re additionally understood as a method to extract additional worth from their customers. Norco’s depiction of that dichotomy is a harsh one, however an trustworthy one; it illustrates how telephones may be an great tool for exploiting marginalized and impoverished individuals. And in any case that, I believe I might throw my cellphone into the Rio Grande too.