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Noorwood Suite, and Surrealism in Forgotten Games


Hi, first time poster here! I’ve been following Cool Ghosts since it started, and I’m really enjoying the new format. I just had something to add to the latest video this time, and it’s kind of scary.

As a game developer, Quinn’s commentary on surrealism in games finding its feet is really inspiring. But, I can’t shake the feeling that this has happened before, and the games that resulted have been completely forgotten. You know how, after Gone Home and the Stanley Parable we’ve been seeing more of what people are calling, ergh, walking simulators? The same thing happened after Myst, which might come as a surprise. I mean, how many exactly do people remember? My worry is that, without building on the successes and (mostly) failures of this style we’ll end up in a loop of mistakes and obscurity.

So, to help maybe avoid this in future in some tiny way, here are a collection of the strangest and most obscure that I’ve managed to track down (I don’t vouch for the quality of the lets plays here, since this is literally the only footage I could find of them online).

  • 9: The Last Resort (1996)

To start with, on seeing the lobby of the Noorwood Suite, I was instantly reminded of this exact room in this exact game.

  • Prince Interactive (1994)

The specific idea of exploring the mansion of an insane musician has actually been done multiple times before here, which makes me think the creator of the Noorwood Suite might actually be working with knowledge of these games?

  • Alida (2004)

And another, this time with the island you explore itself being one giant guitar:

  • Obsidian (1996)

Here’s what’s likely the most well known and well liked, Obsidian. It manages to go quite a few steps further than these interactive music videos by having a logic to its surrealism (it’s nanomachines), but at the same time playing with the impossibilities in puzzles and environment that this allows.

  • The Drowned God (1996)

This is the stuff of nightmares.

  • The Book of Watermarks (1999)

I managed to track down a copy of this one and play it all the way through. It’s actually a bizzare, abstract take on The Tempest, complete with FMV. The environments are quite wonderful.

  • Of Light and Darkness (1998)

I have no idea what to make of this one but there sure is a lot going on.

  • The Dark Eye (1995)

Correction: this is an actual nightmare. And yes, it is in fact an Edgar Allen Poe adaption featuring voices by William S. Burroughs.

  • Bad Day on the Midway (1995)

This one is possibly the strongest narratively, with discrete characters that you can not only inhabit, but also read the thoughts and inner monologue of with an interesting and unique non-linear way of displaying these.

That’s all I got for now. I’m sure I’m missing a couple, but this post is already long enough. Hopefully someone found this interesting?