LudoNarraCon 2020: Welcome to Elk Review

Welcome to Elk - Key Art

“A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid. Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh.” – Stephen King

Developer: Triple Topping
Releases: 2020 TBA
Price: TBA

Platforms: PC, Mac
Available on: Steam
Engine: Unity

NOTE: This review is based on a pre-release demo of the game.

Overview

Welcome to Elk is a charming adventure game set on a fictional island full of true stories and tall tales, and inhabited by the people who lived them. Play as Frigg, a young carpenter starting a new life in a small town and meet the plethora of weird and wonderful residents within.

Welcome to Elk Screenshot - Anders' Cave

Styling

The game has a fun cartoon-style aesthetic with curvy line art and cute characters. The artwork is mostly black and white with bright pastel shades dotted throughout to indicate available interactions. This is paired with a fun and jaunty animation style creating a fun visual experience.

There is no voice acting in Welcome to Elk but the ambient sound effects help create a sense of the environment along with the entirely diegetic in-game music which ranges from jolly and playful to sombre and really quite moving.

Gameplay and Narrative

The basic premise of the game is to explore the island of Elk and listen to the backstories of the eclectic bunch of people who inhabit it. Their emotive tales are based on dramatic real-life events and tragedies adding a layer of poignancy possibly unachievable by pure fiction. Players will also be shown video footage and hear each account directly from the living storytellers who inspired Triple Topping to make Welcome to Elk!

Whilst traversing the environment and interaction with different characters there are a number of opportunities to play some quite silly, but enjoyable mini-games including pouring beers, making balloon faces and singing. These are subtly woven into the mesh of narratives that make up the game and make a welcome and playful addition to the title.

Summary

Welcome to Elk provides players with a uniquely whimsical and touching experience. The stark juxtaposition of the comically twee styling and silly mini-games with the heartbreaking nature of the stories creates a whiplash-inducing emotional rollercoaster. The various accounts sometimes touch incredibly sensitive subject matter such as death, alcohol abuse and violence; this is done sensitively despite the more jovial aspects of the game and manages to feel authentic and touching rather than distasteful in any way.

Looking for other emotional games based on real-life? Maybe check out Brukel?
Or take a look at The Good Time Garden for more cute and surreal cartoon artwork!

Did you like this article? Consider supporting Indie Hive through Patreon! Patrons receive an early access article on Mondays!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *