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Frank and Drake Review

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Most game narratives deal with fantasy. A bunch of heroes go from zeroes to world savers over hours of play; searching for some MacGuffin involving a ring of power or a splintered sword of chaos. Other game narratives involve spy espionage or war drama, focusing on traitors, politics and losses.

But there aren’t many games that build the narrative around looking after your flat, preparing for a housemate to arrive while considering your function in life and how to beat mental health issues. Yet Frank and Drake deals with this and it’s all the better for it. But reality doesn’t last and fantasy soon intervenes…

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Frank and Drake is a great storyteller

There is some great writing on show in Frank and Drake, some intelligent level design, and an interesting and intriguing story with well-developed characters that you want to get to know. The story has multiple endings, and you are going to want to replay the game, because overall there is a story arc that needs all the pieces putting in place. 

It all starts with Frank wandering home through the city, arriving at his apartment in a block of flats. He lives there with his two-legged dog – Underdog – whilst also acting as the caretaker for the building, making sure it’s running well and all his neighbours are happy. However it’s not long before his landlord announces that he has a new roommate, Drake. Frank gets the place ready for the new arrival while doing his chores around the building…

I don’t want to spoil anything about the story or what happens next, but you should know that Drake works at night in a bar, whilst Frank is a daytime person, their paths crossing through the post-it notes around the place. Playing as both of these characters will allow you to enjoy their different lives, and the problems they encounter. Something happens that leads them on a journey together; one in which there is a mystery to solve. In fact, there is some brilliant storytelling throughout, told both verbally and visually. 

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Post-It notes help the narrative move along

Frank and Drake works as a rotoscoped point-and-click adventure. You see the characters in certain locations but don’t freely move around the space. Instead, you click on objects that lead you to smaller areas or closer inspections of a desk or fridge. There are things to do and find out, but this is a game full of puzzles, like that in which you need to help get a parrot to move successfully to its food. Or a maze puzzle when you have to get all the animal markers in the correct alignment to open the center of the maze. There are word puzzles and strange card games too; all wonderful throughout. 

The game is set over the period of six days and nights, leaving you with choices as to where you want to go that day to lead your investigation. This journey determines the story and the outcome of the playthrough. There isn’t any danger and I don’t think you can die, but the game is inventive throughout. However, the control system does get a bit awkward at times and it needs a little bit of getting used to. 

The visuals employ that rotoscoped style, the action filmed by real people, with art drawn over the top. Much like the film A Scanner Darkly, it’s a stunning choice. Everything from the locations, to the tiny details in each document, to brilliant graphical animated dream sequences feel like an amazing addition to the game. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it’s right up there with some of the best visuals available. The soundtrack is amazing as well, completely syncing with the emotional beats. 

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The visuals are glorious

Frank and Drake is a unique example of indie gaming at its best, mixing great storytelling, unique artistry, and good puzzles in a delightful combination. Some might find it too slow, whilst others may point to the lack of open-world control annoying. But this is a game that is capable of providing many moments of magic, taking the mundane to the sublime.

I am a huge fan of puzzles and stories and Frank and Drake satisfies those urges with fantastic aplomb. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Great story
  • Outstanding visuals
  • Choices matter
Cons:
  • Controls can be awkward
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Chorus Worldwide
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 20 July 2023 | £19.99
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Great story</li> <li>Outstanding visuals</li> <li>Choices matter</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Controls can be awkward</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Chorus Worldwide</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 20 July 2023 | £19.99</li> </ul>Frank and Drake Review
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