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Turn 180 and start a new game
Draugen was announced back in 2014 with a trailer, showing it was completely different game than the actual finished product. In the announcement trailer Draugen was more psychological-horror game, sneaking in the darkness only flashlight in player’s hand. I don’t know what happened and when, that made developer to hit the break and take 180° turn. Draugen came to be an adventure game played in first-person surrounded with mystery, without any heavy horror elements. I’m all curious, let’s see what this is all about.
We came all this way and nobdoy’s home
The game take place in a rural village at the base of mountains in coastal Norway at 1923. Americans, Lissie and Edward, arrives to the village, Graavik, by rowing boat. They came there, because Edward is looking for her sister Betty and Graavik was the place where he believed her to be. He had exchanged letters with the head of the village and they promised to take them in as they come searching for her. When they arrive, they found the whole village being a ghost town. Every single person was gone.
The story begins fine and goes on smoothly. Draugen is fully voice acted and the two main characters likes to talk a lot, which is good and makes the gameplay more realistic. They have lots of small talk and little comments, and Edward (the only playable character) can talk to Lissie at any time, but he says whatever is on his mind at the moment.
Extraordinary Lissie and gameplay
The gameplay itself is first-person with a few basic buttons; walk, run, comment/talk, interact, zoom. Draugen isn’t walkthrough simulation, though. It consist searching for objects, writings and letters, keys and dealing with Lissie by talking to her. She is like a hyper little child in sugar high, talking a way too much, saying stupid things, using silly words that I had no idea what they meant, jumping and running where ever she randomly wanted. Yeah, in the first five minutes I already had it with her. She was annoying, loud and childish. Dealing with her all the time I got used to all the nonsense and along the story I think she little bit calms down and becomes more serious.
Authentic Scandinavian culture
Visually Draugen is gorgeous, but still looked kinda dated with certain parts. Especially looking afar, all looked a way too simple/unrealistic and the lovely landscape lost some of its beauty. Otherwise objects and characters were highly detailed and upclose they even appeared photorealistic. The old Scandinavian style was nice to admire at; designs, furniture, buildings and nature was absolutely true to the original.
Storytelling, realism, tension and metamorphosis
Ultimately the story and storytelling and how everything was voice acted and presented was the main things in Draugen—not amazing gameplay, controls or effects. I think they hit the mark with the plot and how realistic all somehow felt, especially the talking between Lissie and Edward.
Originally Draugen was some type of horror-survival game and after metamorphosis it became a nice story-driven game with bit of thrill. It was arresting trying to find out what happened to the villagers and the unknown gave the little tension. However, I’m not sure is Draugen anything new and special, but more like those endless releases of first-person-psychological-thriller video games? It surely has its own style visually and localizing to the 1920’s rural Norway is enchanting. Draugen isn’t overly long game (approx. 3-4h) and overall I enjoyed playing it.
Good, but overused last season concept
The main problem with this game is that it should’ve come out four years ago to hit the maximum interest of the players. Draugen isn’t a bad game, it’s interesting with good storytelling. The problem lies when these types of games are released every month—players starts to get bored to them already.
(Review copy kindly provided by the publisher)
“The old Scandinavian style was nice to admire at”