Did you ever play The Flame In The Flood? It was indie game studio The Molasses Flood’s first game release back in 2016. The Flame In The Flood was a stylish, rouge-lite adventure game that was fun and harsh in equal measures.
Now this talented team are bringing us Drake Hollow, so what’s this new game all about?
In Drake Hollow you play as a fresh-faced girl or boy who has been summoned to a dark and dangerous world by a mysterious crow.
This mysterious and wise crow has tasked you with helping the Drakes. You must build up a village for them and protect these cute little magical critters from the monsters of the aether.
On the surface, Drake Hollow, looks a lot like Fortnite. This is, potentially, due to it being created in Unreal Engine 4. The assets in some places are near identical to the popular battle royale. The cars and shopping carts, the oversized weapons, even the way the objects ‘wriggle’ as you smash them. I guess this style hasn’t exactly done badly for Epic Games so why not borrow some aesthetics from one of the biggest games of our generation right?
The gameplay in Drake Hollow is enjoyable enough. Players will explore around The Hollow, smashing up the various destructible objects, for all sorts of resources. Resources are used to either satisfy the Drakes needs or as crafting materials for various useful village decorations.
The Hollow was once a peaceful place but is now blanketed in dangerous Aether fog. Step into the ominous fog and you’ll be consumed within seconds! There’re various craftable items that allow you to avoid this fate like the Aether Ward. This gives you a ‘forcefield’ of sorts so you can walk through the deadly Aether.
You’ll also encounter numerous shadowy monsters around the environments too. These creatures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from the small grunts to larger, more ominous stalkers. One mob that gave me a bit of a hard time was the fox-like Fangs. This creature had an explosive AoE attack which was pretty devastating. The design of these enemies did remind me of the monsters from Zelda Twilight Princess.
The map in Drake Hollow is made up of small islands separated by the Aether. Each island has an Aether level. Aether levels are reduced by destroying the bramble like tentacles, that have taken root. These don’t pose a threat to the player, unless you get too close to them. This game feature doesn’t feel that fun. It feels like a chore to have to prune back this thorny flora. Maybe if they maybe possessed a thorny attack of sorts, this would make it feel more engaging and worthwhile.
As far as weapons go in Drake Hollow, players will collect various different melee weapons. These can be anything from axes and picks to coat stands or lacrosse sticks. The bigger weapons do more damage but are slower to wield. Each weapon does also have a durability, which will at least force players to try different ones.
You will also be able to equip a ranged weapon which are equally as quirky. For example, I picked up a weed sprayer gun, which seemed quite effective at vanquishing my foes. Other ranged weapons include, the blunderbuss and crossbow. Ammo for these ranged weapons is fairly scarce, so players will need to use them sparingly.
In terms of economy in Drake Hollow, the friendly neighbourhood crow, will exchange shiny things for items you may need. This is a good place to stock up on ammo or hard to find building materials.
As for the Drakes, they are cute little veggie creatures that you will pluck out the ground. Each have their own unique ability and they are willing to share this ability with you. In the early game you can only have one of these buffs equipped. Choose which buff to enable carefully according to what you are planning on doing. For example, some buffs will increase your damage output whereas others will reduce the frequency of raids on your village.
Drake Hollow is all about time and resource management. The camp will periodically get attacked by increasingly difficult raids, from grunts and stalkers. There is a timer to let you know when this is going to happen. Make sure you can make it back to base in time or your friendly Drakes won’t last very long.
Your Drakes are very demanding little creatures. Players will need to make sure they supply the village with enough water, food and entertainment. Crafting items like the cleansing well, vegetable patches and yoga ball will cover these areas respectively. As your camp levels up, you will gain access to plethora of craftable items. This progression system gives players a goal to aim for and focusses their resource collecting.
Drake Hollow is definitely quirky and to a certain extent unique. It’s an amalgamation of a fair few games and game styles but I think they work well together. The premise of the game is fairly straight forward, defeat foes, gather resources and manage the needs of your Drakes. That doesn’t stop it being fun and challenging at times though.
Succumb to the Aether or get struck down by the shadowy creatures and you’ll spawn back at camp. Players will have the option to either resurrect, at the cost of weapon durability, or spirit walk to their corpse and attempt to drag it to safety. This is an interesting feature but I took the weapon durability hit as it seemed less time consuming.
If the graphics are reminiscent of Fortnite, then the music definitely reminded me of Minecraft. The slow and dramatic piano melody transported me to a blockier world at times.
Whilst we are comparing Drake Hollow to games let’s throw another one in there, Jet Set Radio. Drake Hollow features a supply chain system. Players can link caches of resources back to their villages, via crystal waypoints. Waypoints connect together with a light beam, players can ‘grind’ along these magical light beams. This provides fast and safe travel between islands. The Jet Set Radio comparison is unavoidable. It’s a useful way to get around the landscape but is a little bit of an odd addition.
Players will be able to enjoy Drake Hollow with friends as the campaign will be cooperative. The can play the game solo but with companions, the experience should be much more fun and rewarding. I can only assume that the games difficulty will scale to how many human players are present. However, I haven’t seen any information to confirm this yet.
Before players enter the world, they will get to customise their character. In the beta, the options weren’t vast but there was enough to be able to make my character feel unique. As you play the game you will find cosmetic items that can be swapped via the inventory screen.
The menu’s do contain a fair amount of information. The tutorial and tool tips do an adequate job of explaining these but also requires the player to learn as they play. This was similar to their first game, The Flame in the Flood. Learn by doing, which should make for a rewarding and satisfying experience for most players.
Drake Hollow will release on Xbox One and Xbox Game Pass on 17th July 2020. The game will feature a campaign mode and also a sandbox mode. What do you think of this game? Let us know if you are planning on playing Drake Hollow.
Learn more about Drake Hollow here before it launches on Xbox One July 17.