Dreamfall Dev Debuts ‘Gone Home Meets Amnesia’ Draugen

Are you afraid of that tree? You should be afraid of that tree.

It’s easy to forget that Red Thread Games is working on anything other than Dreamfall Chapters because, well, Dreamfall Chapters. But last year, the viking-est man in game development, Ragnar Tornquist, and his band of merry yarn-spinners announced first-person survival horror adventure Draugen, which does not sound much like Dreamfall at all. Tornquist has instead opted to plant its ragged bones between Gone Home and Amnesia, a description that has me quite intrigued indeed. Debut trailer below.

Spoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooky. Like, legitimately. I mean, it’s not like withered countrysides and oceanfronts have never been done before (I actually saw some pretty deep shades of Dear Esther in that trailer, myself), but I was pretty on-edge by the end of it. Honestly, I leaped a little when the logo jumped out. I hope the logo is the game’s main monster. Its roar is more powerful than a thousand Slender clones.

Here, however, is what Draugen (no spellcheck I’m not trying to write “dragon” ugggh just leave me alone) is actually about:

“As the player explores the tiny settlement, gathering clues and memories, and unearthing the truth behind a terrible tragedy, they will learn more about the history of the village and its inhabitants. And they will come to see that behind even the most innocent of facades lurks the potential for malice. But there is more to this place than meets the eye.”

“From time to time, a woman in black can be spotted in the distance. Who is she, and what is her connection to this place? Who is the little girl singing broken lullabies as the sky begins to darken? And when night falls, and those last few, precious drops of kerosene in the lamp feed a fragile, flickering flame, what hides out there in the darkness and in the cold, black sea?”

The whole thing is rooted in Scandinavian literature, choosing to focus on Norwegian nationalism as seen through the eyes of an American scientist. Makes sense, given that the game was whispered into being by a $144,000 grant from the Norwegian Film Institute. I bet they’ll be mighty upset when they have to play this movie, but I suppose it’s their fault for not reading the fine print.

Kidding aside, Draugen looks mighty promising, and I’m pre-chilling my bones by leaving the refrigerator open all the time in anticipation of its arrival. According to Eurogamer it will support Oculus Rift and be out sometime in 2015. Also, it’s going to Kickstarter soon, because $144,000 (sadly) isn’t actually that much in the world of biggish-budget game development. Do you say affirmative spooky “booOOOoooOOO” to that, or regular negative boo to that?


  1. lowprices says:

    I wonder at what point we’ll hit critical mass with Kickstarter, and a project fails simply because people don’t have the money/inclination to back yet another project.

    Not that I hope this one fails, as I’m a big Tornquist fanboy and have enjoyed all his previous works, but still. It may never come, but I do wonder how many people are put off by “now on kickstarter”

    • Stromko says:

      I think the chances for a Kickstarter project are waning over time as users reach their limit of investment vs returns. Many projects from the kickstarter boom are still in development, while those that have seen release are sometimes disappointing. The hyped-up idea that developers will be able to achieve so much more just because they aren’t limited by traditional publisher interference has been deflated a lot as more projects become real.

      • tumbleworld says:

        Yeah, totally. The Rift sell-out really isn’t going to help, either.

      • Acosta says:

        Which game has been disappointing? Honest question, not trying to be salty or anything.

        In my experience, FTL, Broken Age, The Banner Saga, Valdis Story, Conquistador, Shadowrun (particulary Dragonfall) have been really good games for me. I’m still playing Dragonfall but it´s being excellent so far. Even things like Ballpoint Universe have surprised me by its uniqueness.

        I won’t deny there is a KS exhaustion. Some time ago a game from Julian Gollop would have been financed in days. But the outcome, in my experience, has been excellent and I’m excited about other projects I have backed like Elite IV, Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2 and many others.

        At the end we will kill crowdfunding not because they failed us but because we decided to drown the whole thing in a pool of cynicism and mistrust. We’ll be poorer for it, but naysayers will have the last laugh.

        • somnolentsurfer says:

          I backed Godus.

          • Noburu says:

            you poor poor sap

          • somnolentsurfer says:

            Even there, in fact, I’ve probably played it enough to have got my money’s worth. Seemingly unlike others, I found the basic sculpting mechanic pretty compelling, so I put a good while in just playing with the land. I backed something like Populus, and that’s basically what I got. It’d just be a lot better if there were any actual reason for any of my actions in game.

    • Entitled says:

      The thing is, that over time, people are also *earning* money. It’s not like the people who have backed Dreamfall a year ago, still feel that $25 hole in their pocket.

  2. Penguin_Factory says:

    “Dreamfall Dev Debuts ‘Gone Home Meets”

    You had me there.


    Now you *really* have me.

  3. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Well, as you so kindly asked Mr Grayson, here’s my two pennorth. I liked Dear Esther, a lot. It was one of those rare experiences for me that actually had tears involved. I like those experiences. It wasn’t scary, though there was a foreboding, and I am very sad that they removed the ‘ghost’ scenes that were in the original source mod. Gone Home also seemed to have threads of the sense of loss, due to the marital problems of the parents you read about which also lent a maudlin tone that resonated for me.

    Amnesia on the other hand was meant to be scary, but I didn’t find it scary – I just found it stressful. I stopped playing because it just felt like being asked to solve puzzles whilst living with a shitty flatmate and waiting for an argument to happen, as opposed to mortal dread. Sort of ‘solve this rubik’s cube, and by the way you forgot to clean the toilet this week.. it was your turn’

    The one game that has made me feel a palpable dread, yet actually gave me conflicted feelings of wanting to feel it, was the free SCP Containment Breach, which did things to my brain that no videogame has done before. Looking at Draugen, I feel wistful for the bits of Dear Esther I loved, and kind of “urrghhhh” for the parts of Amnesia I didn’t. All in all then, I think this game is Probably Not For Me.

    • The Random One says:

      I’d play a game in which you had to solve puzzles while your shitty housemate bothered you.

  4. hypercrisis says:

    How exactly does Gone Home fit into this? If it was scaled down into a similarly small environment then they might have a case but right now it sounds like a carbon copy of Dear Esther, but with monsters.

  5. Laurentius says:

    To be honest I’m pretty fed up with “tragic past” trope, whether it is: “discover tragic past” or “reason for present tnesions” or “motive for crime stories”. Somehow I prefer these plot points to be grounded in present.

    • Shazbut says:

      If the story was told in the present, things would have to actually happen

  6. faelnor says:

    Gone Home was already Amnesia meets teen fiction, so this leaves Draugen with two parts Amnesia, one part teen fiction? That seems about right after watching the trailer, except the teen isn’t a wounded lesbian desperate for recognition, it’s a gothy dude who GMs Call of Cthulhu sessions and reads norse mythology instead of going to class.

  7. somnolentsurfer says:

    I’ve been burned before, and really should know better, but it’s pretty much a given I’ll end up throwing money at anything Red Thread do. In fact, this just prompted me to investigate upping my Chapters pledge…

  8. tnzk says:

    If there’s one bit of advice I’d give Ragnar Tornquist: snip the word count.

    Verbosity does not equate to quality. In fact, when I think back to The Longest Journey and Dreamfall, the one thing I’d dread if I were to replay them (and I want to), is the endless fucking droning from the characters.

    I’m not asking for Ernest Hemingway levels of efficiency, but I don’t want to be whacked over the head by Merriam and Webster.


    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Indeed. I watched the end of Dreamfall on YouTube a while back. I totally cried all over again, but I also thought ‘God, these guys need to get a script editor.’

  9. GardenOfSun says:

    Looks promising. I loved Dear Esther, and I think there’s serious potential for some kind of western take on the silent hill theme here (with the theme being about the “monstruosity of the past” and whatnot).

  10. dskzero says:

    “Gone Home meets Amnesia” This sounds a lot like A Machine for Pigs.

  11. Shazbut says:

    “Gone Home meets Amnesia”. So a game where you walk around in the dark and nothing happens? Sounds exciting. I hope we get to read fragments of a letter

  12. BallsOfSteel says:

    Amnesia : Machine for Pigs

    was pretty much Dear Amnesia

  13. Shooop says:

    Oh boy another “walk around with a flashlight” simulator.
    Because Steam Greenlight isn’t already stuffed full of those.

    Unless they have something actually interesting they’re not showing us, this is just another drop in an overflowing bucket of school projects being presented as full games.

  14. Anabasis says:

    Oh snap, I think there was a nithing pole in that video!

  15. Darth Gangrel says:

    Lol, just mentioning that the game is called Draugen lost me an hour on Wikipedia, because I knew I had heard that word before. I’m interested in mythology and folklore and had previously read about the undead creature known as Draug (with Draugen meaning the Draug). Quite a fascinating text here, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draug.

  16. Noviere says:

    I want to support these guys so much… but I just can’t do first-person horror. It stresses me out way more than it entertains me.