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Draugen lands on Norwegian shores today

Not exactly Sherlock Holmes.

Scenic and spooky "Fjord noir mystery" Draugen is out now. The latest from Red Thread Games (Dreamfall Chapters) and Ragnar Tørnquist, it's an exploration adventure set in and around a seemingly abandoned coastal town in 1920s Norway. Player character Edward is a nervous, bookish American who avoids travelling even outside his own library, but when his sister goes missing, him and his young ward Lissie head off in search of answers. Sightseeing, amateur detective sleuthing and some potentially grim secrets abound. Below, a launch trailer.

While the sub-genre seems to have fallen out of vogue lately, Draugen is unmistakably a beautifully crafted walking sim. An excuse to slowly meander around the prettiest landscapes that Red Thread could craft, while following a breadcrumb-trail of clues and plot points. The addition of Lissie should make it feel a little less lonely than others in the genre, as she runs, dances and pokes at the environments, and acts as a hint system if you end up turned around and unsure what to look at next. A bit like Alyx Vance (Half-Life 2), but with less shooting, and hopefully less fawning.

We've got a Draugen review in the pipeline, but it's still some ways off, so unless you really are pining for virtual fjords, you might be better off waiting a few days. Opinions on the game seem all over the place, which is unsurprising given the genre and Tornquist's divisive writing style. I'm curious to whether his vaguely Joss Whedon-esque banter will carry over to a pair of relatively quiet characters exploring in otherwise total isolation. It's treading new ground for both director and studio, after the densely packed and conversation-heavy conclusion of Dreamfall. Stay tuned.

Draugen is out now on Steam and GOG, and priced at £17/€20/$20.

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Dominic Tarason