It is with a quote from Lord Byron, an important figure of romanticism, that we present this review to you. Stories always have an end, but they become immortal when told; the word is a powerful tool, capable of making eternal all that is destined to end.
Welcome to Elk it is a biographical adventure with a strong comic book imprint; a strange and disturbing world that hides a deep message, even if it may seem insane. The protagonist is Frigg, a young girl who decides to leave her house to become a future carpenter.
He arrives at Elk, an island seemingly like any other, despite the quintessentially dialect way of speaking of the inhabitants. You will immediately notice the weirdness of this island: even the character walk is very unusual, in fact you will be walking all the time hopping and waving your arms as if you were dancing Gangnam Style.
Frigg will try to work hard to help old Jan, a former colleague of his father, but from day one almost bizarre things will happen. The heart of the game is the veracity of each story told; you will play but, at the same time, each episode which will occur will correspond to events which really existed.
We appreciated the choice to include video stories made by the developers themselves, in order to better sympathize with the player. This choice created a really exciting and very rare contrast to find a playful-realistic contrast.
Welcome to Elk tries to balance the weirdness with the visceral emotion, sometimes too directly. Most of the time, however, you’ll be left with the controller in hand (or with the mouse) and wondering if you should continue. The title of Triple Topping is a pearl immersed in dirty sand; you will have to dig to be able to appreciate the shine. It is precisely for this reason that we don’t want to reveal too many plot details, also considering that this is about a four hour game.
The story is divided into four acts which will become more and more intense and twisted. Frigg will experience indescribable events and act as a way to tell you real stories; some will be bloody, others terribly sad. What struck us most was the opportunity to observe the eyes of the developers during the story: they were covered with a veil of extremely noticeable pain.
Human beings, except for a specific group, want to listen exclusively to what interests them, becoming incredibly blind to the pains of others. This game tells the story of naked and raw life and does not mince words; you will be able to guess from the foul language, the scruffy way of life of some characters and the totally misleading concept of life. Elk appears to be a remote and invisible island whose inhabitants only God knows how they find their way there. But above all, why did a young girl decide to drop everything and go there?
Emotions and suffering will be scattered here and there, between beer bottles hidden under a boat and a bar frequented by untrustworthy people. We want to reassure you: there will be not only sad stories, but stories with different nuances. On the other hand, we know, life is like a ladder on which joys and sorrows hang. The drama of some stories will be camouflaged so as not to be too heavy, creating a contrast reminiscent of the style of What Remains of Edith Finch. This is a detail that we really appreciated, considering that the title could be played by particularly sensitive people.
In some situations, we would have preferred fewer dialogs, especially in the case of overly short statements, as each dialog will have to be skipped manually to continue. Being a purely textual game, however, we can understand the reason for this abundance.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward: Frigg will explore the island and be able to talk to the locals, as well as interact with the available hotspots. In this case, you will immediately understand where to click, because the objects in question will be colored, unlike the rest of the landscape which will present itself with simple white tones. In this regard, we had to resist the relentless urge to print screenshots and color them in (that would be a great initiative for young and old).
Welcome to Elk is a story-driven and therefore read-based title, so don’t expect particularly complex interactions. However, you can enjoy some WarioWare style mini-games, which will definitely make the gaming experience more enjoyable and carefree.
The tracing process is linear; just follow the course of events using the map, in case you don’t know where to go. As mentioned earlier, the title has a four hour longevity and automatic backups. Through the main menu, you can follow the progress of the story, observing the percentage placed on the save file.
Let’s move on to the weak points of the game. Welcome to Elk is a hidden gem of the indie scene but it will be too easy to mistake, thanks to the lack of localization in Italian. It would be an insignificant detail, but the adopted language often uses typical dialect terms, sometimes difficult to understand even for those who do not have much problems with the English language. These are not words that are impossible to translate or understand, but the game experience could be slowed down to fully understand the dialogues.
On the other hand, a purely narrative game needs to be extremely fluid for those who experience it, even with its idiosyncrasies. The people of Elk wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t speak in such a whimsical way, but they must be fully understood in every facet. The gameplay didn’t stand out for being memorable either, but the emotional component did manage to strike a good balance. On the other hand, the veiled parallels with other important titles in the video game world are very interesting; it’s up to you to find out which ones!
The musical setting is just perfect for the set, thanks to composer Andreas Busk. An equally distorted musical background is attributed to a strange island; the most memorable moments will however have different nuances, warm and welcoming. At times, you might even be moved, certainly thanks to the music which, along with other components, will help to get you excited.
Bottom line, Welcome to Elk is as strange as snow in August and as thoughtful as a cold shower. Triple Topping wanted to represent reality in every way, with its undertones that may not always be as bright as a beautiful crimson red. What stands out as a real strength is the way the developers have made their presence felt.
The team walked into the game, literally, showing us how much commitment, passion and humanity there is. It was very educational to get together virtually in this way. Probably, precisely for this reason, we were able to understand the soul of the game; it’s an interaction that we think many other development teams should try.
Too bad for the lack of localization in Italian which, in this case, is really necessary. Welcome to Elk is not a memorable title, indeed, maybe when you finish it you’ll be more confused than before, but you will have learned one essential thing: to listen to others.
The fire of knowledge is an invaluable treasure to be nourished day by day; to be able to do this even through a video game is wonderful. And let’s face it: Elk is a weird island, but after all, which of us isn’t?
Source : Reddit