Summer is the time of vacation, enjoying sunny days with picknicks and relaxation. Dordogne is an homage to this feeling of lazy summer holiday, combined with a interesting background story packed in a narrative-focused adventure game.
You play in the role of Mimi in third person view who returned to her grandma Nora’s house after her recent death. Mimi spent a summer vacation with Nora here back in 1982 when she was still a child. The house is close to the Dordogne river giving the game its name. However Nora has little to no memories of this summer and by exploring the house she explores not only what Nora left behind but also her memories of this summer back in 1982 which she remembers to have documented in a personal booklet back then. Finding this booklet is the key of getting back her memory and main driver of the story from the start. Flashbacks into summer of 19832 lets you play in role of 12 year old Mimi and thus explore how the relations between Nora and Mimi evolved and what exactly happened back then. The story is presented by typical adventure dialogs, short cutscenes and letters that Mimi finds exploring the house. Those letter give more details of the family relationship between Nora and Mimi’s father and other background of the family. The narrative is interesting, credible and always on point. The story unfolds gradually with good pacing and and well understandable personalities and motivation of the characters. Remaining interesting at all times the narrative avoids overdramatization and bases on a more natural down-to-earth story. Also the mix of cutscenes, letters and dialogs works well. Voice acting in cutscenes is well done, letters add just enough to the overall context without having to much to read and text-dialogs are written on point. As the focus of the developers is on telling their story there are no real multiply choice dialogs which impact the storyline, but from time to time the player can select how to make Mimi answer to Nora’s question in some dialogs.
The gameplay is minimal, you discover the house and browse through letters and dialog-boxes most of the time. Gameplay elements limit like putting and turning a key into the lock or painting something are limited and there is no time limit or failure possible. Also the few puzzles are very simple puzzles. Throughout the chapters you can find text-phrases and stickers to collect. Later a camera and microphone are added allowing you to record the surrounding noises or make photos. At the end of most of the 8 chapter you can create a collage in 12-year old Mimi’s booklet out of the photos, phrases and stickers found. Even though the story around the booklet is just a simply addition it really adds to the narrative of a 12 year old girl enjoying vacation and making memories.
The first impression of Dordogne is surely due to it’s lovely art style. Every scenery looks like a handmade painting and make the game stand out from other narrative focused adventures. The warm and intense colors make you really feel on summer vacation from the start. This is intensified by good sound effects like the floating of the river or the sound of the insects in the grass. The music is also good. There are no memorable soundtracks but especially during important parts of the story it fits the situation. The animations of the characters are a bit of a negative point. Understandably with its own art style the game is not focused on realistic movements, but the way how Mimi walks looked just awkward to me.
A lot of adventure games in recent past had a interesting narrative and story. Other games had a special art-design. Dordogne is one of the few having both and combining it to a immersive virtual summer holiday in South-West France. For fans of games with story focus at least one playthrough taking around four hours is a must, best combined with a cool summer drink.
- interesting narrative and character
- very good combination of dialog, cutscenes and texts to drive the story
- wonderful art-style and soundeffects create summer atmosphere
- walking animations of characters look awkward
“Dordogne is a beautiful adventure game combining high quality art-design with an excellent, still down-to-earth narrative”
Sources: Screenshots: own screen captures