A lost town in the Norwegian fjords is the setting for this mysterious mystery adventure set in the 1920s. In Draugen’s analysis, we tell you what this mysterious adventure conceals in the first person.
Maybe not everyone knows Red Thread Games, but surely the name of The Longest Journey and Dreamfall sound more like fans of the graphic adventures genre. Under this same development study, the team was already responsible for creating Dreamfall: Chapters, the latest episodes published in its popular saga, but with Draugen, the team has made the leap to other types of experiences: the so-called walking simulators or narrative adventures in the first person.
The truth is that, although they can fit into the same genre, I do not think that graphic adventures and walking simulators share many facets in common, beyond that both want to tell a story. The core of a game like Draugen is always to unveil the plot without puzzles, receiving scraps of information as we explore the scenario. This style of the game requires a much more suggestive narrative, as demonstrated by Gone Home, with its indirect way of telling the events that occurred to a family. Nor does it have to be exempt from mechanics, since games like What Remains of Edith Finch have shown that you can (and even should) go deeper into the interactive elements and, therefore, enrich the video game in the process. The same happened with Firewatch, whose sense of orientation and exploration opened the linear map of this style. What I mean, basically, is that this genre has evolved a lot from its original conception, shaping the formula and adding layers of depth over the years.
With Draugen, however, I had the feeling that he was late. That I have gone back in time. All this progress that as a player I have been able to experience when entering one play after another, where they do not apply. You experience a setback by going back to the classic “go forward” formula and nothing else. Draugen puts all its weight in the story, but what we are told does not take advantage of the interactive possibilities to expand the narrative and, therefore, it feels simple for the stage of evolution of the genre in which we find ourselves. In addition, at certain moments of the adventure does not manage to captivate as much as we would have liked it too.
But before continuing we must place ourselves. The stage is a small village in the Norwegian fjords, in the 1920s. Our protagonist, Edward Charles Haden, arrives with his young companion Lissie and with only one objective, to find his missing sister, who seems to have a strange link with the village. On the way, however, we will find that the people hide their own mysteries, which we will have to unravel while we fulfill our own objective.
It overturns all its weight in history
The staging is striking. The small Norwegian village is built in quite a bit of detail. You can even go with some freedom, although it will not be necessary since the game maintains necessary linearity in order to advance the plot. There is, however, room for respite. Moments in which to see Lissie play and distract with anything or in which to leave Edward to rest for a break (age does not forgive) or draw sketches while we contemplate the view and we get carried away by the melodies of the game. A very successful soundtrack, especially with its main piece, Draugen Waltz, really achieved.
Do not walk alone
The premise is simple, but effective. The best thing about Draugen, what it really brings, is our companion. In general, the walking simulator genre is usually characterized by solitary scenarios, with few characters reflected on the screen. A style that emerged as a solution for humble developments, in which the work of modeling human characters and animations is always the most expensive thing to do. Draugen, however, allows us to be accompanied by Lissie. She only breathes more life into the scenarios and makes us feel less lonely than we are usually used to in a game with these characteristics. Lissie is the soul of the video game, there is an intrinsic relationship in what the studio wants to transmit to us, loss and isolation, and what the genre itself represents: a protagonist who always walks alone on stage.
Thanks to this fact, the walks around the town made it more bearable than usual, changing the classic monologues for the dialogues with our companion. Something that is reinforced well after the adventure, with a turn that I did not expect and that really hits. Although this moment is well achieved, what remains until the conclusion of the mystery is somewhat less. Despite his good intentions, Draugen fails to connect well with all the frames he presents. There is a lack of cohesion in the different ramifications of the plot, which sometimes breaks the player’s suspension of credulity.
I regret not being much more explanatory since it is difficult to talk about Draugen without falling into any kind of spoilers and the whole experience is centered in the story. The maximum I can reach without revealing anything is that the work of Red Thread Games is made, as often happens in the genre, to resonate with our internal forum, but even though the scenario and what we are told are appropriate, get us to connect with the necessary force. Perhaps because it focuses on secondary events that occur in the game, or maybe because it does not use all the elements of our environment in its favor. In any case, there is something in this little work that does not finish shining with the necessary intensity so that, at least, it has penetrated me. If I pick up and separate your message from the work itself, your narrative intention, I can see that yes, It is exquisite. On the contrary, by playing this story according to what it is, an interactive work, the message is well expressed, but not as strong as it could be. It is not a complaint to the lack of classic mechanics or puzzles, far from it. I have commented at the beginning of the analysis that we have seen in the genre forms and formulas to play with the scenario, the characters, exploration, decisions, and interactivity without needing to rely on the skill of the player. And it is a pity to see that Draugen does not take advantage of these formulas in his favor, because they would have created a much more enriching experience. not much less. I have commented at the beginning of the analysis that we have seen in the genre forms and formulas to play with the scenario, the characters, exploration, decisions, and interactivity without needing to rely on the skill of the player. And it is a pity to see that Draugen does not take advantage of these formulas in his favor, because they would have created a much more enriching experience. not much less. I have commented at the beginning of the analysis that we have seen in the genre forms and formulas to play with the scenario, the characters, exploration, decisions, and interactivity without needing to rely on the skill of the player. And it is a pity to see that Draugen does not take advantage of these formulas in his favor, because they would have created a much more enriching experience.
Draugen is an account of psychological mystery that, through the rules of the walking simulator, is unraveling an entertaining story, but one that could shine more strongly. The premise is good, and the inclusion of a companion gives some personality to a genre that is not lavished by the inclusion of secondary characters. With more narrative development and cohesion in the different plots, a more rounded result would have been achieved.
- The character of Lissie, very successful
- The soundtrack and set in the Norwegian fjords
- Good narrative intentions
- The story, despite being striking, loses strength and cohesion in its final part
- The strengths of the genre could have been better exploited to reinforce the exploration and the plot