Welcome To Elk Review
Back when the Summer Game Fest Demo Event was going on with Xbox, I had a hard time keeping up with what was being offered. Part of it was pure laziness, part of it was I really didn’t know where to begin considering all of the demos available for a short period of time. So I reached out to my audience and said, alright folks pick out a bunch of games and I will play through them and stream them. Welcome to Elk was the first recommendation I got, partially because it looked weird by nature and also because of the unique art style. I am a sucker for games that are different and try to do different things to stand out like Chibi-Robo, Katamari Damacy, JazzPunk, etc. Instantly I was intrigued by the story the demo was telling in this very unique island of Elk. I really wanted more. Thanks to the folks at Triple Topping Games, I got more. More than I ever imagined.
Welcome to Elk is a biographical adventure set on an island like no other, where every character you encounter has a story to tell. From the weird and wonderful to the dark and desperate, all the tales told on Elk are based on true stories of life on the road less traveled. The game plays out similar to an interactive story as you take on the role of lead character Frigg as she journeys to the Island of Elk to be an apprentice for the local handyman/Carpenter. Little does she know she’s about to walk into a town filled of mystery, murder, drinking games, dance offs, and mini-golf? Yep, if this sounds like a fever dream it pretty much is.
The art is a clear standout here with a pop-art modern take on character models, landscapes, and environments. Each beautifully done and unique as the next one. Most of the landscape is in black and white except for items and folks that you can interact with in some way shape or form. The expressive nature of the different characters breathes live into this world of Elk, in a very Twin Peaks meets Fargo kind of way. From the (crazy?) cave dweller Anders to Frigg herself, every character stands out and is memorable for one reason or another. There really isn’t any “filler” characters to keep track of. They all play a key role in the story and gameplay throughout the game.
The story is one filled with twists and turns that surprisingly never makes you feel like you actually know what’s going on at any point. Just when I thought I knew what was going on, I suddenly was found to be waaaay off and traveling in another direction. The game is full of humor, heart but also some dark moments. The game doesn’t struggle with it’s sense of identity…it has multiple personality disorders, in the best way possible.
The gameplay is simple, in fact there is no way to “lose” the game. You wake up each morning, venture out into town and get a little more history behind Elk. You might be treated to one of the many mini-games that range from decorating balloons, pouring beer with the right amount of head, or a karaoke night. It’s these unexpected moments that really got me invested, and kept me wondering what it was going to have me do next.
Overall I cannot say enough nice things about Welcome to Elk. In a year like 2020, with everything going on…It allowed me to unplug my brain for a few hours and enjoy this story without thinking about anything else and experience these stories along with Frigg. Oh yea, did I mention….the stories you encounter in the game are based on actual stories the creators heard first hand from folks. There might even be some cut scenes that give you more of the experience. Spoiler free – the ending is exactly the payoff I was hoping for after playing so much of this game.
This year I have reviewed a ton of games like Dreams, The Last of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima….but Welcome to Elk has been the most fun I’ve gotten to experience in gaming this year thus far not to mention the most memorable game. I cannot wait to see what Triple Topping Games has up their sleeves next.
If you like Indie games that stand out and tell a great story, then this is a must grab. Available NOW on Steam and Xbox