“…these vignettes I sketch for you – what are they? Watercolors … yes and dreams blurred with tears …” – John Geddes
Dordogne is a stunning narrative adventure in which players can explore beautiful landscapes and revisit childhood memories in order to uncover elusive family secrets!
Dordogne’s protagonist, Mimi, has no recollection of anything prior to just before her 13th birthday. The game centres around her visit to her late, estranged grandmother Nora’s house in order to learn more about her past and her family. Set in 2002, Mimi explores the house and unlocks memories in the process, which whizzes her back to the summer of 1982 when she last stayed with Nora.
The narrative design is excellent and the eight-chapter story is told through a variety of methods such as dialogue, letters, tapes, and messages as well as the interactivity and gameplay itself. The game has a slow build and feels very casual and upbeat until the later chapters when the drama levels increase somewhat. The overall tale is a poignant and meaningful one that deals with themes such as loss, family and regret. It is an emotional journey with a beautiful message to match the game’s visuals.
Since the game is set in the past and present the player gets to take on the role of both the younger and older versions of Mimi. The latter explores and searches the house and upon recollecting certain things is transported back. The player then becomes the younger Mimi and experiences the memories through her eyes, often having to complete small tasks along the way. These include things such as feeding the cat some treats, making a picnic or going shopping. The controls are quite tactile and feel better with a controller than they do with a keyboard and mouse.
As younger Mimi, the player can take photographs and collect a range of items, namely stickers, sounds and words. These can all be chosen from and then assembled into a binder page at the end of each day with the words being used to create poems. This is a nice additional feature of the game and gives the experience a personal touch. There are also a variety of cassette tapes for the younger Mimi to find and letters for the elder, these both add to and progress the narrative.
Dordogne’s visuals are a stand-out feature of the game. The stunning loose watercolour art style creates gorgeous landscapes and scenes with a ton of personality and life. The paintings beautifully utilise the unpredictable nature of watercolour paint and the player can see water blooms, granulation and other interesting effects within the different scenes. The watercolour pictures are layered to create depth and give a subtle collage-like appearance.
The characters seem to be created digitally and have a slightly different look but they are painted with textures and gradients that are reminiscent of watercolour which helps them to blend seamlessly into the rest of the game. The lighting used is immersive and atmospheric, with beaming sunshine creating dramatic shafts of light and a warm autumnal glow inside the house.
Dordogne has a wonderful, varied soundtrack that really matches the tone of each scene. The music ranges from gentle, melodic keyboard tracks to dramatic numbers with an 80s feel as well as featuring some very emotive tunes that really help connect the player to the narrative. The ambient sound effects are delightful and immersive, similarly, the voice acting of the tapes and letters is of a high standard and felt very believable.
Dordogne offers a top-quality gaming experience that will appeal to a wide range of players. It features varied gameplay with a good amount of interactivity, especially for a story-focused experience, with the two aspects blending together seamlessly. The narrative, while definitely a slow burner, is engaging and emotive and sure to pull on the heartstrings! It goes without saying that the visuals are stunning, with the beautiful watercolour artwork that really brings the story, world and characters to life along with the immersive sound design. Overall, Dordogne is excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys wholesome, meaningful games.
Looking for more artistic games? Check out the following reviews:
Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery – Artistic & Emotive Puzzle Game! – Exploring Dark Arts in Layers of Fear –Viewfinder – A Unique Perspective-Bending Puzzle Game