Escape From Norwood isn’t the type of game I opt to play in my spare time, nor is it one I’d actively seek to review. Text-based adventures have never been my thing, and even now, I struggle with most visual novels, despite loving words and stuff. Yes, that last sentence was intentionally written that way.
Singular Works’ adventure was offered to me earlier in the year on mobile, but anyone who reads this site will know I don’t play mobile, plus there wasn’t enough time to cover it anyway. Still, the developer got in touch once more with the imminent release.
Our tale begins through the dark eyes of 13-year-old Lecia. She’s been ‘cursed’ with magic and can turn invisible on command. The local guards have caught wind of this and lead a chase to her father’s candle shop. After a sneaky escape, her father sets a quest: obtain supplies while he secures safe passage out of town and to safety. Easy peasy.
Escape From Norwood Review (PC)
Escape From Norwood is a throwback to 80s text-based adventures, only instead of your input coming from text commands, there’s a more modern point and click interface over three screens.
Split into four, the top left displays dialogue and narrative events, an interactive map to the right, inventory in the bottom left, and the clickable items/NPCs to the right of that. At first, the visuals are cluttered and take some getting used to, but considering how most of us have multiple windows on our desktops. I’m confident you’ll get to grips with it.
Moving around town is straightforward enough – you click individual spaces or directly on a location, and the best path is calculated. While you’re pondering your moves, time continues to pass with a day/night cycle. Many of the sidequests in Escape From Norwood depend upon the time, so you’ll go with the flow or manually speed up time.
Bag Of Tricks
As a text-based adventure, there are no visual elements for the inventory. Instead, you have to click on keywords, similar to hyperlinks, and combine them with NPCs or objects on the screen to the right. It’s intuitive and no different from a LucasArts verb wheel, excluding the graphical element.
Escape From Norwood is far from ugly, but look elsewhere if you want a visually intense experience. The compromise? A considerable story with tons of characters, lore, and opportunities. On top of this, the music is borderline epic and complements the story perfectly.
Besides swapping about objects from your inventory, Lecia sports magic powers – the first being temporary invisibility, with others unlocked as you perform actions. The gameplay side isn’t complicated, but the side quests can get overwhelming as you can take on as many as you like. Fortunately, a hint system is on hand should you lose momentum.
In the context of my opening paragraph, Escape From Norwood isn’t my type of game, and, to be completely honest with you, it hasn’t changed my opinion of the genre either. However… as a standalone experience for the story and levels of engagement, it’s very good. Clearly, a lot of energy has gone into this game.
It took a while to get into the swing of things as, because of the day/night cycle, it can be easy to miss something, and as hinted at, overwhelming in places when you have four screens and multiple quests on the go. Bear with it as things improve once you know the character names and history.
Escape From Norwood is a decent-sized story with plenty of characters and quests to keep you out of mischief, plus enough scope to make this world a believable fantasy. There’s a mobile version on offer if that takes precedence for you, but I’d argue that a large PC screen would be more practical. Either way, try the demo and see what you think.