The developer of exceptional 2022 sci-fi adventure Norco is following it up with a 'narrative micro-adventure' about an android exploring an AI-haunted oil refinery

silhouettes in front of flaming oil refinery tower
(Image credit: Geography of Robots)

We absolutely loved Norco, the haunting 2022 southern gothic cyberpunk point and click adventure, so we've been eager to see what would come next from developer Geography of Robots. Now we know: Silenus looks to be a smaller-scale, but no less striking adventure, and its free demo comes with a funky tie-in to a Louisanna metal band that supplied some of Norco's music.

Silenus casts you as some kind of android exploring an abandoned oil refinery⁠—the installation's shadowy new owners have laid everyone off in the name of AI automation, with strange missives from management and surreal new workplace initiatives (like mandatory dance breaks for the now-nearly nonexistent staff) implying something more sinister is afoot. We're hitting some familiar Norco themes⁠—the metal titans of fossil fuel extraction carving up the coast, vaguely threatening yet absurd transhumanism, the crushing boot of capital⁠ flattening all—but from a fresh new angle. I can dig it

You explore the refinery in full 3D instead of Norco's static 2D design, but the pace of exploration and branching, scene-by-scene layout of the world definitely feel familiar. Geography of Robots' distinctive look translates really well to full 3D too, and I'm excited to see how this crunchy, strikingly lit world looks on a CRT monitor.

And then there's the music tie-in: Doom metal band Thou's latest album, Umbilical, has been released 11 days early through Silenus' demo. You can pick up individual tracks as items in the world⁠—I found one as a puzzle reward in my short sampling of the demo⁠—and you can listen to them in a separate menu.

It's my kind of music, and also a delightful, incongruously whimsical way of releasing an album given how inherently grim both doom metal and mournful sci-fi adventure games about the gulf coast are. This is also not the first time we've seen a nice indie game/alt music release tie-in like this: last year, Health released a new single through the boomer shooter, Ultrakill.

Geography of Robots says it will keep Silenus' demo up for two to three weeks following the release of Umbilical on May 31. The full game has no set release date, but you can check out the demo for yourself and wishlist on Steam. If you haven't yet played Norco, you're in luck: that particular adventure game heater is just $6 on Steam until May 23.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.