When it came time for me to play Drake Hollow, I was a bit hesitant. I’m generally not a huge fan of survival games. They’re too slow-paced for me and don’t usually hold my attention for the amount of time needed to fully delve into their mechanics and intricacies. Still, it won me over.
To be sure, there’s a ton of crafting here, and it is very much a survival game. However, the developers managed to up the speed of gameplay by having more frequent enemy encounters in between smash and loot sessions.
Welcome to The Hollow
Drake Hollow takes place in a world overrun by dark creatures and rolling fog. It’s known as The Hollow. You end up here after following – of all things – a talking crow. It’s up to you to help small vegetable-like creatures called Drakes save their home from these dark forces. It’s a super simple narrative that takes a backseat to looting and crafting but still sets the tone early.
You spend all of your time running around a group of islands collecting supplies and building up your base and home for the Drakes. The Drakes supply the core gameplay loot of Drake Hollow, as everything you do revolves around them. You build beds, homes, and entertainment for them, all while bringing the necessary ingredients for survival: food and water.
Occasionally enemies attack your base and your Drakes as well, so eventually it turns into a tower defense game as well. This can be frustrating if you’ve made it a good distance from your base and don’t have a way to quickly get back to your island to defend your little friends. Luckily, after a point, you’ll be able to craft defenses for your base, making things a little bit less dire.
The Drakes aren’t just here to keep alive though but instead serve as passive allies for your journey. Drakes give the player buffs to help with different situations. Some are combat buffs, while others are defensive or other passive buffs. You can only have one equipped at a time, so it’s important to cycle through and see which ones are available before you’re off on an adventure.
Additionally, the crafting loop also relies heavily on the Drakes. Every day they give you more of the currency required to complete projects around your base. The final thing to note about Drakes is that they can also level up with crystals that players find around the world. Leveling them up increases stat gain that you earn with an active buff, so finding ones that suit your playstyle is crucial for survival.
The Feral are for real
You’ll die a lot, too. The Feral (the enemies you come across) aren’t slouches. They’re aggressive and nimble, and if you find yourself ambushed by a group of them death can come quickly. These encounters aren’t all that interesting, though. Your character often won’t be able to keep up with how fast some of the quicker enemies are. It’s mindless combat that doesn’t leave a lasting impression. What is fun though are the random weapons that you come across.
Players can utilize all sorts of different melee weapons. They range from tennis rackets and lacrosse sticks to a large candlestick and tree branches. You’ll never be able to carry everything you want due to inventory size, but stashing away some of your B-tier weapons means more room for better items you find in the world.
There are some ranged weapons as well, which are a blast to use. These do more damage than the melee weapons, so resources and ammo for these tend to be far scarcer. I found myself using ranged weapons to take down the insidious vines on an island to clear it from the blight instead of using them on enemy encounters. However, I found myself often running back and forth in search of some well-hidden vines, which ultimately killed a lot of momentum I had made earlier.
It’s great fun to play with friends. It’s unique, too, as each world is procedurally generated. Hopping into others’ games is a unique experience, much like pulling them into mine. Even performing the same gameplay loop just in another instance of Drake Hollow is unique enough to stay fresh due to environmental changes that players wouldn’t have found in their own world.
The tedium of survival games is one I don’t enjoy, but the fast-paced combat here made things far more enjoyable for me. There’s something to be said about a faster-paced survival game. I think the base defense helps break up some of the monotony of other similar titles, even though the core loop on display doesn’t change much. Drake Hollow should be fun for older survival fans, and the art style is unique enough to draw in younger players.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.