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Draugen [2019 -- Red Thread Games]

Started by Starfox, Jun 16, 2023, 01:07 AM

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Originally published on November 20, 2019

You know this sensation you may have when wanting to enjoy a game by a developer you already know by their previous work that appeared to please you? Anticipation, excitement to the idea of being rightly entertained. Well Draugen is that way but rest assured... it deflates very quickly. The guys at Red Thread Games are known first and foremost for their Dreamfall Chapters and before that, under another name, The longest Journey and The longest Journey: Dreamfall.

In Draugen (a Norwegian term singular of draug designating an undead -- and yes it is a derivative of the Norse mythological draugr, a modified version appearing in Skyrim for those among you who played the game) an American naturalist Edward Harden bringing with him his charge Lissie (Alice) go to the Norwegian and rather isolated village of Graavik to find Edward's missing sister, Elizabeth, a journalist whom apparently went missing there. The mystery narrated in a noir style is spread over 6 chapters, each one representing one day spent in the village. The willage inhabitants themselves disappeared even before Edward unloaded his suitcase from the boat. From that point, Edward and Lissie try to search or clues but they increasingly find themselves with different motives. Edward is obsessed with finding his sister while Lissie doesn't give a damn and would rather prefer to find what happened to the villagers. It is to be noted that Draugen has an official yet unspoken subtitle "I am not alone" which take some sense the further one progresses into the story.

At the moment I'm writing this review, I'm still trying to decide, in light of their previous work, what exactly Red Thread was trying to do with Draugen. The game was originally planned to be released on the same month as Dreamfall Chapters and yet was delayed until 2019. It's a low budget production which does not have the scope of Dreamfall Chapter. At times it feels like something the developers were working on on the side. It could have been a technology demonstrator at some point... 10 years ago.

Not to say that it's not an interesting game but in the same vein I can think out of the top of my hat of The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter which without having a similar story is about exploring a deserted area, finding what happened to the people who lived there and finally discovering an odd truth, the whole with better graphics and more extended locales. As it is the real differences of Draugen is that one has a sidekick during most of the story and that the game is much smaller in scope.

At the end of the day, Draugen is an uncomplicated very small game (clocking at 3 hours playtime in my case) and there's not much else to say about it. I'm just curious as to why Red Thread didn't release it sooner if they thought it could have been ready for the release of Dreamfall Chapters. Certainly the graphics of the game place it before Dreamfall Chapters.

Still, may be worth a try if you have 3 hours to kill.

Guess what it means!