Vulgar Knight
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Drake Hollow Review

Don't you wanna go into the hollow? I won't go alone, Aren't you gonna follow?

Drake Hollow has been a quick turnaround for me as I picked up the game relatively late. Other than knowing that it was a game by The Molasses Flood who made The Flame In The Flood – a game I have still haven’t got around to playing, I didn’t know much else.

What I can say, based on my playtime is you are the Chosen One. You have been handpicked as the potential warrior to save the Drakes from The Terminer. What’s all this? I hear you ask.

The Drakes are these onion-like imps that burrow into the ground, not the type you’d see in Final Fantasy VII Remake. They’re super cute and a bit of a pushover, so The Terminer and The Feral have taken over the lands, forcing the Drakes into hibernation.

Drake Hollow Review – PC via Steam

The game is a mash-up of many a genre; exploration, crafting with resource management and combat. First impressions were great as the game utilises catnip to lure you in: customisation.

After creating a character that best reflects my personality; a tanktop wearing girl with hair like Nariko from Heavenly Sword, I was set. You follow the wise crow and are tasked with walking through a doorway you may never be able to return to. Spoiler: you have to go through it.

Drake Hollow - Friends
Best of friends. Source: Screen capture

In this small series of islands in Drake Hollow, you get to befriend the Drakes and fight off the scum who’ve been giving them a hard time. Once they find that you mean them no harm, the Drakes welcome you into their community and will upgrade and maintain your new camp.

The camp is your hub where you can craft new structures and provide beds, supplies and entertainment for your new friends. Drakes will mature as you provide them with specific crystals so that they can improve the quality of the camp and the type of structures you can build. Any sign of trouble and they’ll bury themselves in the ground and hibernate.

Grinder

Your job then is the hunter and gatherer. You cut down trees, pull up plants and take on a variety of nasties sworn in to wreak havoc in Drake Hollow. Each island is separated by a fog called Aether, and it’ll kill you if you remain it for only a few seconds.

To get past, you can construct numerous tools to help on your adventure, in this case, an Aether Ward which, for a limited time, will allow you to walk to another island unharmed. But the real goal is to set up waypoints so you can grind across the connected nodes as a faster way of travel, but to also send back supplies to your Drakes.

Exploration is encouraged and now and then you will find some form of transport that you can connect to your nodes so that you don’t have to manually return to the base to feed and water the camp. It does take time though and a bit of a grind as you need to earn crystal, mostly from combat, to create these waypoints.

Drake Hollow - Grind
Grinder. Source: Screen capture

The actual play area is quite expansive and will later open up to further locations that are affected by the elements. Still, the gameplay remains the same throughout – flicking back and forth to your camp, bashing nasties and exploring the map.

Each time you interact with your Drakes, they’ll give you charms used to build your camp. The happier they are, the more they’ll provide, plus they’ll also restore your health – much needed if you ask me.

Fight For Your Right

Combat is relatively challenging. It’s not that enemies hit all that hard, but movement can be quite sluggish. You can jump and dash, but swinging a melee weapon is tricky, and you have to time it most of the time. Ranged attacks aren’t as bad, but ammo is limited unless you craft it. Upon death, you return to your camp, or you can travel in spirit form and attempt to reanimate yourself, which is an excellent feature, but hard work if you died amongst loads of enemies. It’s doable, though.

The hardest thing with combat is the durability of the weapons. They aren’t made out of cheese like in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but having the resources to hand when they break is limited. 

In the first area, I encountered the boss who wasn’t overly hard, but because they took a fair amount of hits and could spawn lesser enemies, I ended up using all my ranged gear and using up my melee gear with nothing left but my 1 point hit fists. After the seemingly endless deaths, I ended up wandering around, looking for a twig or similar to use against them. In the meantime, they were destroying my base.

Drake Hollow does spike in places, and while you can’t die in the conventional way, sometimes you’re stuck in a compromising position when under attack and the level of difficulty is quite testing, but not enough for a rage quit.

A Beautiful World Slightly Muted By The Difficulty

Drake Hollow is gorgeous, and I fell in love with the graphics and my customised character immediately. The atmosphere of the land of the Drakes is beautiful, and I found myself quite attached to the little scamps.

In some ways, the presentation is a little like Fortnite, but in my opinion, much much better. I’m sure I should put in the footer of this website that I like a grind, save me continually repeating myself, so the repetitive nature of the game didn’t bother me and I mostly binged it.

Drake Hollow - Terminer
He’s terminal. Source: Screen capture

Creating waypoints was great, but on the trying side as you have to engage in combat mostly to get a crystal or two, or head back to your camp during a raid. It took me a few attempts to get the hang of it, but once you’ve established these nodes, it makes the game so much more accessible.

Alternatively, you could call upon another player to help you out in co-op. That wasn’t an option for me during this review, not that I would opt for it. I reserve multiplayer assistance for the Dark Souls series and Nioh exclusively. Thank you, oh masterful gamers.

Drake Hollow Review
8 / 10 Verdict
Pros
  • Stellar presentation (including customisation options!).
  • Crafting and base building is very enjoyable.
  • Satisying exploration and building travel nodes.
  • Cons
  • Difficulty spikes later on.
  • Can be a little on the repetitive side.
  • Playing with a friend will alleviate the difficulty you'll most definitely face, but for solo gamers, expect a rough ride. Otherwise, Drake Hollow is beautifully presented, and each of the genres it touches upon is crafted really well, offering a great deal of variety.
    Rating

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