Frigg, the protagonist of Welcome to Elk, arrives in the small town where this title takes place, as most characters of the genre usually do: fleeing. We are not sure why, but his life in the city haunts him so much that he needs to find a respite in a remote place with which, from what we intuit, few things unite him. Precisely from the ignorance of the place and its people, the premise of Welcome to Elk arises: we are a stranger on a Nordic island lost in the middle of the sea and our stay in the town will consist of meeting our neighbors and, above all, their stories. Triple Topping, developers of the game, define it as a “biographical adventure” with stories based on real experiences.
What we liked!
- Elk and his style: Despite what it may seem from its graphic style, Welcome to Elk is by no means a mocking game. The stories told by their characters, and by themselves, exude a brutal, crude humanism that permeates even the person who plays it, in a truly special way, achieving a sincere connection with all of them. What we will do in the game will not go beyond moving around, interacting with certain colored objects that stand out on the white stage, talking, listening, and completing the odd minigames; no more is needed to be part of this story of stories.
- Non-stop playability: The minigames will take us out of the conversational routine proposed by the creators of the game. Between chatter and chatter, the mechanics of Welcome to Elk twist to offer interactive segments with very specific actions: For example building a trap for squirrels, singing at karaoke, killing a poor dying rabbit, etc.
- Real stories: The real purpose of Welcome to Elk are not in this interrelation, but in the honesty with which it tells the player, those real stories of real people. They are raw stories that are rooted in experiences that have actually happened, sometimes these people even appear in small pieces of real video, telling how they experienced that situation first-hand. Living these stories with them is an experience that is rarely had in the videogames; Welcome to Elk creates a fictional framework to present characters and moments that collect the real stories and frames you in it so that you can get an idea of the sensations and emotions that can be given off when experiencing them in the first person
- Aesthetics and dramaturgy: In the three or four hours of duration, this title does very well in creating the ideal atmosphere, so that you can experience that rawness in first hand; That feeling is multiplied, especially when the minigames acquire additional value beyond proposing a new temporal mechanic. As it is not always, when they succeed, they are masterful points, narrative flashes that make this work worthwhile as a whole.
- A risky style: Aesthetically, it will put off a lot of players who won’t be thrilled by its visual appearance. It’s a risky style, which at times doesn’t seem to match the drama of the game, but behind those articulated puppets there is a creative intention of relating this game to theatrical work as if it were puppets. It is not the only element that links Welcome to Elk with the dramaturgy: the narrative composition itself, the soliloquies of the protagonist, the division into acts, and the integration of the authors in the scene show that this video game has learned a lot from theatrical language.
What we disliked
- Unconventional style of play: The penalty of this imaginative narrative formula is that it rarely connects with the central story. Some mini-games have a direct relationship with what is narrated, while others don’t have so much but fit well with fiction (playing cards in the middle of a party). However, most are just minigames, little playable sparkles that add little to the scene.
Rarely will we see a video game as honest and raw as Welcome to Elk. It is a work that uses dramaturgical elements to build a narrative of stories set in a fictional world with roots that reach the real world. Putting ourselves in Frigg’s shoes we will experience a collection of hard stories told with love, sincerity, and, sometimes, even with humor. Too bad his little faith in the possible narrative use that he could give to the minigames he poses because when he believes in them, sparks fly between game and player.