A missing sister and a missing village. What secrets does Graavik hold.

Posted by Nate on 30 June 2019 at 6:33PM

There are plenty of ominous signs in the quaint village of Graavik, Norway. The complete lack of people for one is particularly noticeable. The beautiful autumnal colours in this mountain town is an unusual but also refreshing setting for a game. Exploring every nook and cranny is somewhat meditative but a constant underlying sense of dread never quite leaves the back of your mind.

Edward (Teddy) has travelled to Graavik in search of his sister Elizabeth (Betty). She's been missing for some time and he's followed her trail to Norway. Teddy is joined by his young companion Alice (Lissey). However, upon reaching the village from boat across a fjord, something is immediately wrong. There are signs that the village was in mourning after a death but now it is completely deserted.

I think the most important aspect of this game is the companionship from Lissey. Fairly frequently you are alone in this genre of game – think Gone Home, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – so having someone there to contextualise the surroundings and events is engaging. This also means that you hear the protagonists opinions as well. There is a lot of potential here, and although Lissey's niavety and youthful enthusiasm is endearing, Teddy's character is somewhat questionable. In fact, by the halfway point of the game I downright disliked him. His obsession with finding his missing sister affected his interactions with Lissey and his surroundings in a way that I just found uncomfortable.

There are several concurrent mysteries running throughout Draugen. The location is really interesting – 1920's Norway is not really a common setting in video games – and the mountains, water and orange leaves all look wonderful. Some mysteries are more intriguing than others, but I found none of them really pay off. I inadvertently guessed one of the big moments but other than that I wasn't too sure exactly what was going on or had happened. The game is fairly linear but I tried to read and look at everything available but left with an incomplete understanding of the events.

That's not to say I didn't like it, I did. I was curious to follow Teddy's story and was eager to learn why Graavik was deserted. However, I think the journey was more interesting than the conclusion.

There wasn't any challenge in the game. The only things that even resembled a puzzle was collecting four pages from a book in a church or choosing a safe combination (out of four set numbers you find in one place). With that, I do wish the narrative was more engaging as this is the main takeaway from Draugen.

The good

  • Lissey's companionship is endearing
  • Unusual setting is refreshing
  • The game looks great

The bad

  • Unlikeable protagonist
  • Weak narrative payoff
  • A little buggy throughout