The Drawn trilogy is probably the most well known and praised of the adventure games tagged as ‘casual’. And while the series is indeed casual, it’s not to be mixed up with the hidden object games. These games are definitely adventure games, though they are heavier on the puzzles than the narrative. I also think the series deserves the praise it has been given, even though I eventually didn’t end up scoring it very high.
The game’s setting is a fantasy world of some sort, it’s very close to fairy tales. In the first game, The Painted Tower, an afgncaap protagonist enters a tower to reach a little girl, Iris, who has asked for help. The player must solve a puzzle after another to reach the destination: the top of the tower. On the way the story unfolds a little bit by some conversations and notes left behind.
The story is light though. It’s not uninteresting, but there’s just not much substance. The charm of the game lies mostly on the atmosphere, which is constructed with great visuals and music (I’m no expert, but I at least heard cello a lot). In the sequels the player leaves the tower to different sceneries. The two first games tell the story of the little girl, Iris, and the third game is a sort of a prequel to the series. All the games are very similar, many puzzles are even recycled.
While the tower itself is a pretty bleak place, there are very colourful moments in the game. The whole concept of Drawn is very clever for an adventure game: Iris can draw things that come alive. The player can then enter different paintings and alter things with the help of her drawings. This is an interesting gimmick and mostly it works very well, also making many of the puzzles somewhat more believable. The same skill is also pretty much the only thing that gives any layer to the story.
The games are quite short but surprisingly they are not terribly easy, at least not on the harder setting. But no one should get stuck unless they want to. In addition to the easier setting, there are hints and a possibility to skip puzzles. I of course could not skip a single one, that’s just not in my nature. I was frustrated with a couple of puzzles but mostly I enjoyed them. Also, if I had bothered actually reading the descriptions now and then, at least one of those frustrating puzzles would have been a piece of cake.
In the third game one of the most fun puzzles was painting Easter eggs. I also happened to play the game on Easter so it was just that much more enjoyable. The games had plenty of other great puzzles. Some of them were great to solve and then others were just fun to fiddle around – like the ones involving painting or pop-up books.
I played the standard versions of these games, Collector’s Editions add some new areas that have a bunch of puzzles and also some tidbits of the story as well. Personally I don’t feel terribly left out, though what I heard, there might be a point to go through the extra material at least in the second and third game – but there’s always also Youtube for the cheapskates like me.
These games can be recommended to all ages, though there are some slightly scary things like spiders or dragons and evil dudes with hoods or top hats. My 7 yo daughter loved the games and with the puzzle skipping option they are very suitable for kids. And no doubt many adults can also appreciate the art and music, even if puzzlers weren’t their cup of tea.