Back in August I had the chance to attend a press conference for what was, at the time, known to me as Drawn 2. Having played the original Drawn on PC prior to the meeting, I was already blown away by the series and had high expectations for the sequel. After playing Drawn: Dark Flight I can now confirm that all expectations have been met, and exceeded anything I could’ve imagined.
If somebody asked me to describe Drawn: Dark Flight in two words, I would tell them this: visual feast. Never before have I played a game that was so gorgeous, so astoundingly beautiful that I actually took my sweet time. Sure I could’ve blasted through Dark Flight, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay in the world that the artists and developers created because it was that amazing. Everything was so lush, colorful, and even though it sounds a little silly, it was truly magical.
The original Drawn, The Painted Tower, is about a little girl named Iris who has been exiled by her family to ensure her safety, You see, not only is Iris a Princess, she also has this amazing ability: anything she draws comes to life. Iris’s kingdom is in ruins, and as darkness descends on the land, she is the last ray of hope for her people. The King is evil, and after searching everywhere for Iris, he has finally found her. You must make it through the Painted Tower and get to Iris before he does. If you haven’t played the first Drawn, I won’t ruin the ending for you but know that it was perfect in every way and led into Dark Flight.
One of the things I really loved in The Painted Tower was how so many things came to life. Sure Drawn is a hidden-object/puzzle game, but it’s unlike any other game of its genre out there. Drawn: Dark Flight plays just like that, but it does so much more. I will admit that it’s difficult to review this game without gushing over everything and potentially ruining puzzles or plot points for you all, so if I seem a little cryptic at times, it’s because I want you all to play this game with no spoilers, with hopes that you all fall in love with it like I have.
The story of Dark Flight is simple. Iris has escaped from the Painted Tower, but still needs your help. In the Kingdom of Stonebriar there are three beacons that must be lit, and upon completion, she will be Queen. Of course, with any game, there are obstacles along the way, but it is up to you to aid Iris and save the day.
When I spoke with Brian Thompson (Art Director/Designer) and Chris Campbell (Producer/Designer) in August, I was told how the beacons really played a major role in this game. Not only did they represent the eternal flames of creativity, but they would drive away the Shadows and open up other parts of Stonebriar for you to explore. Sure, the game would still have linear quests, but it would give players different directions to go in.
The overall game is more atmospheric than the first with the way the shadows and light are, and the Phoenix is a reoccurring theme. If you aren’t sure what a Phoenix is, it’s a mythical bird that, when it dies, will be reborn from its ashes. One thing I noticed was that all of the puzzles in Dark Flight were original. None of the concepts or ideas were borrowed or replicated from Painted Tower, and I thought that was fantastic. I wanted a challenge, I wanted something fresh, and I was given that. The gameplay never became stagnant nor was I ever bored.
In terms of difficulty, some of the puzzles instantly clicked while some of them required a bit more logical thinking. I never found myself getting angry or frustrated. Each second spent was pure enjoyment. The Library was my favorite section of the game, hands down. The pop-up book puzzles were like nothing I’ve encountered before in a game and I found myself wishing that I had them on my shelf at home.
When I asked Brian and Chris where the concept of Drawn came from, I was told that the idea came from a sketch Brian had done. He then made a painting of it, framed it, and hung it on a wall. One day the two of them thought they should make a game based on that and started to brainstorm. One main question was who Iris would be. Would she be an art student? A wizard?
One thing I didn’t know was that Drawn also came from another title Brian was working on. Something about the game didn’t seem right, so it was scrapped and the two were faced with a challenge: take the assets they could use from the scrapped game and come up with something in 6 months. The duo are big into storytelling, and Brian found himself heavily influenced by a combination of various styles that blended classic Disney (Dumbo, Bambi, etc), the Brothers Grimm, and Shel Silverstein. They even through in a little homage to Where the Wild Things Are, so be on the lookout for that.
With a total of 9 months in development, and only a team of 9 people, the geniuses behind this game pumped out twice as many art assets as the original, and they delivered a game that I will remember for many years to come. Drawn: Dark Flight is something that entire team should be proud of, and I feel it’s a throw back to the days of childlike wonderment where your imagination ran wild and anything was possible. There is still so much that can be explored, so much that can be told, and I hope that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Iris.
To purchase your copy of Drawn: Dark Flight you can either head to your local Walmart and pick up the nifty Collector’s Edition that features bonus gameplay, an alternate ending, and unique achievements, or you can simply download your copy straight from the official Big Fish website right now.