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a game by Red Thread Games
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 1 review
User Rating: 10.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Quest Games

We all love a good mystery. Apparently, the Norwegian Film Institute loves a good mystery as well. Much so, they provided Red Thread Games with a grant of nearly $144,000 to build this first-person interactive game. Draugen is a first-person mystery game produced with a rich concept executed by minimalist mechanics. The title jumps on to the successes of indie-titles. Namely - What Remains of Edith Finch and Life is Strange.

Naturally, with an institution grant, the game has to be centered around a concept that benefits the purveyor. Draugen takes place in a small Norwegian fishing village around the 1920s. The stage is set for some beautiful rendering and intense dialogue - how will the latest minimalist mystery stand up against the bunch?

Where Have They All Gone?

The premise, like many games in the mystery genre, is simple. Edward Harden, accompanied by the Watson-Esque sidekick Lissie, has arrived at the Norwegian fishing village of Graavik searching for his missing sister. He enters the fray only to find the entire populous of the area has completely vanished. Whatever could have happened to them?

Beginning the game, it doesn't seem to matter on the first movement. The environments and modeling are stunningly beautiful - reminiscent of rural Norway. Exploration of the player unintentionally becomes the most essential factor of gameplay. You feel compelled to look at every shade of grass, all the streams and distant mists of the fjords. With no-one in sight, players feel very serene, forgetting they need to accomplish the task of discovering what happened to everyone that lived here. Do we really care?

If you wish to satisfy curiosities, you'll find that the game follows a traditional mystery story arc. Abandoned houses and creepy properties litter the town. Narratives are created by the pieces of people's lives found in their wonderfully fleshed out homes. There is the immersive personal development of both the main characters throughout the game. In your travels, you will need to piece together what happened in Graavik by collecting journal pieces and exchanging dialogue to progress. They are basic mechanics, executed remarkably through the crafted world.

Search, But Not Rescue

Like other games fitting this minimalist mystery genre, Draugen is very exploration-based and not a fast-paced game with events happening every moment. Players take in the scenery and use the well-drawn characters to piece together the mystery. The game can be gruelingly slow at times. The minimalist concept is delivered very well through the personal story arcs of Edward and Lissie, however.

The interface is simple and doesn't intrude on any of the scenery. Character animations sometimes are not in line with their speech - but they are realistic enough to pull you into their world. The game does flesh out well but does present more questions than it answers at pivotal points in the narrative.


Draugen presents a game style similar to that of Firewatch - just search, listen, and move slowly to the endgame. The dialogue and world are simply fantastic and make the title stand out amongst games that take similar development approaches. It does leave you wanting to know more, with no options to answer some of the plot pieces you invest a fair amount of time with. Any story game lover will enjoy this mystery - it's not very replayable, but it is definitely a good night in.


  • Stunningly rendered world for hours of exploration
  • The convincing narrative between characters
  • Excellent execution of minimalist mechanics


  • Many story aspects could provide a bit more closure
  • No level of replayability
  • Animations sometimes not in sync

Download Draugen


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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