I am a little on the fence about survival game Drake Hollow despite spending dozens of hours with it. On one hand, it's a beautiful looking experience with adorable creatures and fun crafting mechanics. On the other hand, it can be tedious, boring, and downright repetitive. Every time you take a step forward it almost feels like the game forces you to take two steps back. Whether that is restricting the amount of objects you can craft at a specific time or forcing players to travel to a brand new map every few hours, there feels like a lot of unnecessary padding that makes Drake Hollow more of a grind than it should be.
Drake Hollow begins with the player's character traveling through a forest and coming into contact with a talking bird who leads them to a portal to another world. Your new bird friend neglects to inform you though that passing through this gateway could possibly be a one-way trip, and you find yourself trapped in a mysterious and very dangerous world. The bird explains to you that this world is being assaulted by monstrous creatures who are attempting to completely eradicate the peaceful and absolutely adorable inhabitants called Drakes.
Keeping Drakes Alive is a Blast
Drakes are loosely based on the mythological Mandrake creature, but rather than being creepy mummified roots (like in Harry Potter) they more resemble tiny leafy toddlers with lots of personality. The overall objective of Drake Hollow becomes collecting the different Drakes that are spread throughout the world and returning them to the home base where you can grow and protect the little guys. Unlike some survival games that don't have much in the way of an overarching objective, protecting and collecting the Drakes becomes a really good reason to keep playing and progressing through Drake Hollow. Especially because in order to obtain more complicated crafting items, players will first need to collect and level up as many Drakes as they can.
These Drakes require several things to stay alive, so players will need to collect food, water, and build places for them to sleep back at the home base. When Drake Hollow begins players will mostly be out collecting things like berries or juice boxes to keep their Drakes fed and watered, but as time goes on you are able to build wells and small gardens that will automate the process of collecting these resources. This in turn gives you more time to explore the world without having to worry about each Drake's individual needs.
Build the Perfect Home Base
There are other important things that players can craft as well. There are several types of beds available to craft, such as the single use bed rolls that are perfect when you are low on resources, or the permanent but harder to craft bunk beds that take up less space in the player's base. Some of the buildings will produce electricity for powering the more complicated crafting objects or water to help larger garden plots grow. Building up the base becomes a fun way to spend time, while also allowing players to obtain items to help them progress further in Drake Hollow.
While the main portion of Drake Hollow is collecting resources and crafting things at the base, a significant portion is focused on exploration and combat. Players will need to travel to different islands separated by deadly water-like substance called Aether, in order to begin looking for resources and weapons. Weapons are incredibly important in this world because players will need to defend themselves and their Drakes against the shadow-like creatures that have populated this world. All of the weapons in Drake Hollow are normal household items like brooms, candlesticks, wood axes, or even hockey sticks. Players can also acquire a few ranged weapons like nail guns or even a bow. All of these weapons feel pretty diverse and give players a wide array of actions in combat.
Combat Needs a Lot of Work
This is definitely necessary too because there are several different kinds of enemies in Drake Hollow and each one requires a specific strategy to bring down. The small Grunts like to gang up on players, so it is best to use a bigger melee weapon that can attack several at once. Fangs on the other hand attack from a distance, so players can either fire a ranged weapon at them or attack their projectiles to knock them back at the enemy. The variety between enemies is nice as it helps make combat more interesting, and forces players to strategize a little more before each fight.
The major downside to combat is that the mechanics don't always work as intended. Enemies are far faster than your character is, and I felt like more often than not I was spending more time fighting with the camera than the monsters running around me. The main issue with the camera is that despite being a third-person game with a focus on melee combat, there is no lock-on mechanic. With faster enemies like Fangs, it makes it impossible to keep track of where they are at any given time as they bounce around and try to circle behind you. Without the ability to lock-on, combat against more than one or two enemies becomes an absolute mess.
I Have to Start Over?
There is a much larger issue at play here though. It is incredibly fun to harvest the islands surrounding you for more resources and items, despite the small size of the beginning area. After completing everything in a given area, players are then told to move to another location, but this forces the player to start on a completely new map. You get to keep the base and Drakes, but the supply chains and fast travel waypoints that were set up are removed. Starting fresh every few hours is incredibly frustrating, because as a base grows it requires more resources. The first hour or so of each new area is incredibly stressful because players will be forced to rebuild their supply chains in order to keep all of their collected Drakes from dying, since they now have no idea where to collect the needed resources at.
Over time things become pretty repetitive as players are stuck in this loop of find the Drakes, find a steady source of resources, build up the base, move to a new location, and start all over. End-game content also becomes wildly more difficult as well, if you are playing single-player, as the base will become so large that you wind up spending more time with upkeep on a base and defending Drakes from attacking monsters. This leaves very little time for exploring, which makes acquiring building resources a struggle. This issue can be mitigated by playing cooperatively, but lone players are at a severe disadvantage.
Drake Hollow Misses The Mark
Drake Hollow is a really cute game, and it is a lot of fun to collect all the different Drakes and take care of them. As time goes on though the game becomes frustrating and repetitive especially when it comes to combat. If there were a few tweaks to the combat mechanics and changes made to the end-game content's difficulty I have no doubt that Drake Hollow could be a stellar survival game experience. In its current condition its problems left me wanting more from my time with it.
TechRaptor reviewed Drake Hollow on PC using a code provided by the developer. The game is also available on Xbox One.
- Cute Graphics
- Fun Areas To Explore
- Engaging Crafting Mechanics
- Poorly Designed Combat
- Repetitive Gameplay