Developed by the Bostonian studio The Molasses Flood, the studio responsible for the brilliant The Flame in the Flood, has recently brought to Xbox (and PCs too, so our PC players friends will have the opportunity to try it) their brand new adventure: Drake Hollow, a survival adventure that places you in The Hollow, a decaying magic land home for the Drakes, cute little plant-creatures that need your help to survive in this dangerous world.
Why do they need your help? Well, because they are hungry, thirsty, and need a safe place to live since savage beasts from the hollow are threatening this land! Build a place where they can live in, provide them with food, water, a place to sleep, and, above all, security! Join up to three friends and discover what is the Hollow and what happened to the people that apparently lived here before your arrival. And prepare to defend the peaceful Drakes against the dangers of this tainted land!
What we liked!
- Visuals: The visuals of Drake Hollow perfectly transmit all the magical the Molasses Flood wanted us to feel while playing this game! The cartoonish and colored visuals of our characters and this whole world are amazing – players who enjoy Epic’s Fortnite or Obsidian’s Grounded will feel at home here – but the crème de la crème is the Drakes: these little plant-like creatures are so cute that I’ve lost the count of how many times I just stopped what I was doing to watch or to interact with them. They look like kids, with all that energy in those big eyes. Simply adorable! The animation of our character and enemies are good – simple, but good – as much as the visual effects. One in special I liked is when you place a waypoint in the middle of the mist (more about it later) and you can see the vines trying to grow back to reach it. So charming! The game presents an interesting cycle of day and night that is not only incredible by the way the light has been implemented (you can see light going through leaves and projecting its shadow over the floor), but thanks to…
- An amazing sound work: Players who have already played The Flame in the Flood, the Molasses Flood’s debut game, knows how talented this studio is when it comes to the music in the game. But they managed to surprise me even further: the soundtrack in Drake Hollow is composed of some memorable melodies – that although sometimes repetitive – helps to build the wonderful experience of each one of its biomes. They perfectly transmit different feelings – among peace, tranquility, fear and others – and are a perfect fit for this rtmp://a.rtmp.youtube.com/live2 journey through the Hollow. The sound effects are also very good, especially those from weapons and enemies.
- Taking care of your camp: The camp is the place where Drakes will live. But it can only have a given amount of structures at a given time. And usually, this amount is not enough to keep the Drakes healthy and safe. Your camp can level up, allowing you to unlock new structures and to accommodate more equipment. As your camp will be under attack from time to time, you will always want it to be fully upgraded and full of defensive structures to protect the Drakes. And this is the main reason why you’ll be constantly farming for resources.
- Taking care of the Drakes: Drakes feel hunger, thirsty, and fatigue. They can also ‘die’ from ennui. To succeed in this game, you must take care of all their necessities by building structures that provide food, water, a place to rest and something to keep them entertained: you can plant seeds that grow into vegetables they can eat, build water wells from where they can satisfy their thirsty, beds where they can rest at night and dolls, yoga balls, pinball machines and other things that will keep them distracted. Drakes provide you with buffs that help in your (and their) survival while exploring the islands. These buffs include extra damage, fast attack, farming bonuses and other RPG elements that add an extra layer of strategy to your gameplay. These buffs increase as the Drakes grow old – whenever you give them enough crystals for it. Having Drakes grow old has positive and negative aspects: on the positive side, their buffs will be upgraded, your life bar will increase and you gather experience points for your camp – necessary to increase their level. About the negative aspects, older Drakes consume more water and food and need different – and costly – things to keep them entertained.
- Explore, grind, repeat: When not playing with the cute Drakes or building structures in your camp, you will be exploring the islands of each biome to gather resources – seeds, wood, fabric, scrap and much more – to build structures in your camp or looking for more Drakes to join your camp. If you are short in some sort of material, you can always use the shinning things you find to buy it in the Magpie store. Sometimes you will find trucks with a good amount of resources inside, but as you can’t drive them to your camp, you will need to create waypoints with crystals connecting these trucks to your camp. These waypoints will then magically transport these resources to your camp (once they are connected to it) and provide easy access throughout the land as you can grind on them a-la Tony Hawk style to move faster from island to island. And… well, this is basically all you are going to do in this game: explore the islands, gather resources… and fight enemies.
- Combat: I must confess I haven’t reached the final worlds of the game by now, but I can guarantee I’ve seen enough combat by far. To protect the Drakes, you can build defenses and traps in your camp, but your main form to defend them – or yourself when out in the wild – is by using melee and ranged weapons. Melee weapons include almost anything you can find while exploring the islands (from branches to table legs and skis) while your ranged weapons include a bow, a trebuchet and other not so usual weapons like a nail gun and an insecticide spray. When facing enemies, you can block or dodge incoming attacks, but their attack patterns will be always predictable – what doesn’t mean you won’t be in trouble when surrounded by enemies. Even though in later levels they try some different approaches, the lack of variations in combat will soon become weary.
What we disliked
- Repetitive: It may already be clear by now, but the game has an extremely repetitive nature. The exploration after resources, the fights against aether beasts and upgrading your camp – world after world, have very little variation. Thankfully, having the option to play it with friends will extend your interest in it. Even though after some time, it won’t be enough for you.
Combining resources management with exploration and a beautiful world, Drake Hollow is a title that will please everyone who tries it. It will conquer you with its cute and colorful creatures and delicious songs, giving you a true desire to protect these little creatures. It may become repetitive after a while, but it’s nevertheless an adventure everyone should try – especially if you are an Xbox Game Passe subscriber since it’s available since day 1! Now if you excuse me, I need to find some more juice – I don’t want my Drakes to feel thirsty.
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.