As I started playing Drake Hollow, it gave me vibes of Unturned with maybe a touch of Dungeon Defenders tossed in there too. Both of which are games I thoroughly enjoyed, so I had high hopes. Drake Hollow is a base-building survival game with a lot of exploration to do, which you’ll need to in order to awaken and rescue the drakes that are dotted throughout the land. Under threat from an invading evil force, you’ve been lured away by a magical crow and transported to a new world where they are relying on you to restore the magic and power to the drakes.
A bit of a generic story, but it’s well told with plenty of lore and small insights given to you by the various characters in the game and by the notes you’ll find throughout the world and it really builds quite an interesting story that is told in only tiny amounts. Every time you find a note, you’ll be dying to find the next one, and the next one, to find out more about this weird and wonderful world that you’re now a major part of.
Drake Hollow is also a visually stunning game. Cartoony but still beautiful and, as you can see in the picture above, the drakes are absolutely adorable. Everything in the game is extremely well rendered though, and you’ll be hard pushed to find even a tiny amount of ugly in this game. I’d even go as far to say as the enemies are cute, despite the obvious desire that they have to murder you and all you hold dear. There are plenty of different locations, all of which have really interesting facets that appealed to the treasure hunter within me. I’m always looking to dip and dive into every nook and cranny I can on the hunt for loot, and for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. Being able to climb up a building and jump out the window onto the roof to find more goodies always gave me the feeling there was more hidden away somewhere.
The survival elements and base-building aspects are pretty strong in this game, for the most part – but more on that later. You’re given a number of items to build, and plenty of schematics to find and earn as you play which can make your base a fortress. In addition to this, the drakes you find start out as young ones that grant you minor bonuses, but as you progress your adventure, you’ll come across crystals that you can use to grow your drake into adults, but doing so comes at a risk. Grown drakes may offer better rewards and can do things quicker, but they also need more food and water, which are precious commodities that you can’t always find so easily. It certainly makes for a bit of challenge and creating a thriving base is always a tough one.
There are definite oddities to Drake Hollow that, after a good few hours of playing, I still couldn’t work out. In fact, even now I’m still a little confused as to what I was actually supposed to do at certain points in the game. As an example, early on, you’re asked to go investigate a lighthouse. Due to the scavenger in me, I’d already scoured the starting island for any items lying around and found everything there was, but the lighthouse was on a different island. No big deal, I just have to cross this river – oh wait! The main character apparently gets attacked by mysterious thorny barbs as soon as any water gets onto his shoe and he starts walking as though he’s moving through treacle. Oh, and to top it off, within six seconds, he’s dead. No bother, I thought, foolishly. I’d just look for a bridge – surely there must be a bridge around. The game developers surely wouldn’t make it so that I’d have to suicide to cross this river, would they? Spoiler alert: Yes. Yes they did. In fact, there were some islands that I had absolutely no clue how to get to, and felt as though I’d bene thrown into a random world that was completely untraversable.
Another slight concern for me, as a PC player using a keyboard and mouse, the building mode was a bit painful. I use a keyboard and mouse for most of my gaming, and outside of the build mode, this is fine in Drake Hollow, but any time I wanted to build up my camp it was a mess of pressing random buttons and trying to manipulate the camera to plop my desired item down where I wanted it to go. It wasn’t impossible or anything, but it certainly was far more finicky than it should have been. All I wanted was to put a bed next to another bed, and that was a surprisingly frustrating task.
Drake Hollow isn’t a world beater, but there are some nice aspects to it: it’s gorgeous, the drakes are cute as anything and there are lots of good story and lore in there. Do I see myself playing it again? No. It falls short of having that “X Factor” that entices me in, and having the possibility of not actually being able to get to objectives without repeatedly dying seems like such a humongous oversight.