Title: Drake Hollow
Developer: Molasses Flood
Publisher: Molasses Flood
Genre: Village Building
Release Date: August 28, 2020 (Xbox) October 1, 2020 (PC)
Version Tested: Xbox One
When I first heard about Drake Hollow, I thought perhaps someone was suggesting I watch a new television program on the CW network. The title has that kind of ring to it.
I soon realized that in fact, I was going to be reviewing a new village-building game that stands out from that pack thanks to an interesting animation style and a story that’s kind of cool, if not entirely filled out.
The game opens with your character (who you can customize to some degree) being transported to an alien land by a talking crow. So far so good right? Once there, you’ll run through a series of short, pretty easy missions to get a lay of the land.
As the story goes on, you’ll find yourself given more and more freedom to do what you want and go where you want. The end goal is always the same. Protect little creatures called Drakes. Protecting doesn’t just mean you need to keep them alive.
Drakes aren’t going to be fruitful and multiply (the larger goal of the game) until you also make sure they’re getting plenty of sleep and staying entertained. In exchange, your new little buddies will give you things. Most of the time, these items will help you upgrade your village. Sometimes they will also allow you to upgrade yourself or your weapons.
Drake Hollow’s Building Mechanic
There isn’t anything brand new when it comes to this game. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. In fact, to some degree, it’s a good thing. There’s nothing overly complicated and you’re going to know how to do most of the things that you’ll have to do in this title.
That doesn’t mean building up these villages doesn’t have a certain amount of charm. It’s fun to see the little Drakes prance around hither and yon. It’s also interesting to grab one and see what you can get from them.
The building features will feel very similar to Fortnite for some people. I don’t know if that’s because the functions are similar, or the art style is somewhat invocative of early Fortnite art. No, you’re not going to be building platforms that you’ll stand on to snipe you enemies, but the construction itself is plenty easy. In fact, you’ll be tasking your Drakes to do the building after you decide what it is you need.
Combat Becomes Too Difficult
The point of Drake Hollow isn’t just to leave a peaceful existence and watch your Drakes grow and reproduce. There is also quite a bit of combat worked into the game. The enemies, when they start coming aren’t particularly impressive. Starting out, they’re basically just a bump in the road so you have to stay on your toes.
Eventually, though, things start to get rough. That’s the biggest problem with this game. The combat and strategy goes from simple village building to battling waves of enemies that don’t go down even if you hit them plenty hard. The end game, especially seems to have been made in order to be complicated enough that you’re going to feel as though you actually accomplished something. The problem is that in making you feel as though you accomplished something, things jump up in difficulty level quite quickly.
Build and Defend Still Makes For a Decent Game
The frustrations of a final couple of hours of Drake Hollow are bad enough that there were times I thought about putting the controller down and walking away forever. However, there is a very good game somewhere in the middle of this creation. While there are battles to be had, this isn’t a particularly violent title. There’s strategy but not so much that it’s all consuming. This is the kind of game that will allow you to spend a bit of time and then walk away when you want.
This actually might be one of the better games in this particular genre. It’s not exactly a tower defense game. It’s a bit more than that. But it has enough of those elements. It has tower defense and survival and combat that feels pretty good when it really gets going.
Verdict: Drake Hollow is a good game that doesn’t really stand out because it doesn’t quite go far enough. This is a game that has an original story and some intriguing art, but there’s just something missing. It’s a good game, that never really achieves “very good.” Luckily for its developers, it doesn’t really come close to “really bad” either. It’s a solid title that’s worth playing while we wait for the biggies to hit store shelves. Once they land, this will fade into the background.
- Interesting art style
- Construction and combat is fun and simple
- Good co-op features
- Gameplay becomes repetitive at times
- The end game jumps up in difficulty too quickly.