Have you ever wondered what would an alternative universe look like? What would you find in a fantastical new world? The developers of The Flame in the Flood, the American studio The Molasses Flood introduces us to a beautiful new world with their most recent game Drake Hollow. It is difficult to pinpoint a specific game type because Drake Hollow is an amalgam of many different styles. Nonetheless, if I had to describe it, I would categorize it as a survival game. There is also a base building aspect to it with some tower defense mixed in there for good measure and if that is not enough it contains a lot of action and even some RPG elements to it and of course there is a lot of exploration to be done. The goal is to survive but there is so much more to it than a simple survival game. Alone or with friends, you will explore several splendid islands, all while trying to stay alive.
Your character is just a normal kid, or so it appears. One day while taking a walk in the forest, you meet a wise crow who surprises you by speaking to you and asks beckoning you. You follow him to a mysterious and strange portal. This portal transports you to a fantastic world. The Hollow is a world similar to your own and yet so different. This new dimension is filled with wondrous characters and beautiful environments. However, this world has been invaded by an evil blight that threatens to take it over. This world needs you if it is going to survive.
The artwork is one of the highlights of Drake Hollow. The environment is truly remarkable. The graphics are colorful, charming and delightful. The concept is fascinating with the art being antithetical to this dark and daunting world that is the Hollow. The environments with the beautiful panoramic shots are breathtaking. I also loved the soundtrack which adds to the foreboding feeling and is appropriate to the world of Drake Hollow. I loved the fact that my character was fully customizable and mostly the amount of different clothes you can access as you progress through the game.
I would be remiss not to make a special mention of the Drakes. These adorable little plant-like creatures were no doubt heavily inspired by the Pikmins, the Nintendo classic. There are a lot of similarities that are obvious like their looks or the way they live in groups, but the resemblances go further. They will build whatever you need so long as you bring them the materials required. In return you will have to give them a place to sleep, some entertainment, water and food for them to survive.
The gameplay is varied and set on a loop, each island has the same gameplay loop. The first aspect is exploration, you will have to explore the island for supplies. Then you will have to build your camp. In the center of the island there is a safe place, until the raids start that is. That is where you will have to build a village of sorts, which includes all the necessities for your Drakes and some tricks and traps that will keep your camp safe from the adversaries that will inevitably find you. Lastly there is the combat. There are timed raids where the opponents come to your camp. You will have to defend your camp and the Drakes that dwelt within from those enemies. The combat is rather simple. The variety comes from the multitudes of weapons available. As you progress in the game the bow also becomes available which offers a different type of combat.
The concept is engaging finding what you need and building the camp with all of the contraptions required to protect it. I enjoyed playing Drake Hollow and every individual aspect of the game is well-done. There are so many locations and interesting environments to explore on each islands. There are surprises both good and bad all around to discover. The learning curve is a little steep due to having so many items and crafting recipes to learn plus all of the different kinds of Drakes. The tutorial is comprehensive enough to get you started and after going through it, you will know the basics and mechanics.
I really enjoyed playing Drake Hollow and found the world intriguing right from the start. Exploring this new world was exciting never knowing what I would find. However the gameplay loop is the same on every island. I think the developers missed an opportunity to make each island unique. Drake Hollow is procedurally-generated so every playthrough will be unique, but in the end every playthrough is similar. It would have been interesting to have truly different environments.
Drake Hollow is worth a try especially if you plan to play it with friends. In addition the new sandbox mode adds several hours of gameplay. There are tons of items and contraptions to craft and many mysterious locations to discover. The amazing artwork, the soundtrack, the characters and the breathtaking environment conspire to create an appropriately foreboding atmosphere that just begs to be explored. All in all, Drake Hollow is an innovative game with some exceptional moments that should keep you entertained for many hours.
Written by Vee