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After their 2016 sleeper hit The Flame in the Flood, The Molasses Flood is back with yet another survival adventure- Drake Hollow. Unlike its Roguelite predecessor, this time the focus is on exploration, simplistic combat, crafting, and tons of babysitting- how weird is that? Let’s find out.

Drake Hollow starts with a short montage featuring your character who isn’t doing so well. Totally out of the blue, a crow appears and pleads for your help. Before you know it, you’re teleported into the world of hollows which is infested with feral, shadowy creatures. Amongst them, these adorable plant-like creatures called Drakes are struggling to survive. The wise crow tasks you with keeping them warm, fed, and entertained.

drake hollow
You can create and customize your character

Exploring the Isles and Connecting the Dots

As I said, there’s ‘a ton of babysitting’ involved in the game- to a certain extent, that’s true. Your prime goal is the survival of the Drakes, so you gotta gather resources, craft stuff, and establish a livelihood for them. The first part is the exploration. This world of hollows is filled with procedurally-generated islands separated by a deadly mist, walking into which means certain death within a few seconds. Thankfully after a few tutorials, I was able to craft potions that offer protection for about 15 seconds. As you discover new Islands, you clear infestations, find new Drakes, get new schematics, whack cars, houses, and pretty much anything to gather resources.

drake hollow
In the event of death, you can choose to revive yourself at camp or spirit-walk to your body

At times, you can find yourself several isles away from your base camp. To make matters easy, the game includes a fast travel method through which you can connect the isles to your base Island using crystals. This quasi-fast travel system is reminiscent of the ‘Chiral Network’ featured in Death Stranding. It features craftable waypoints connected via purple beams. You can ride these beams and traverse between Isles in a matter of seconds. Clearing out infestations and finding the Drakes is an essential part of exploring these islands. Clearing out all the infestations stops the feral creatures from respawning. It also ensures the safety of the crystal used for the fast travel network.

drake hollow
Undiscovered locations are to be cleared of infestations

Creatures and Combat

Every undiscovered location is infested with grim-looking feral creatures. Heck, the ‘Stalker’ totally looks like the Demogorgon from Stranger Things. Fighting them is pretty simplistic, you can mash a single button and you’d still prevail. However, things can get pretty tense if they’re swarming all over you. Time and time again, these creatures will also try to raid your base camp, destroying things that your drakes hold dear.

drake hollow
Every weapon in your roster has limited durability

For combat, you can use both melee and ranged weapons. Melee weapons range from tree twigs to battle-axes, and some of the ranged weapons that I came across were a Weed Sprayer, a Nail Gun, and a Recurve Bow. The Bow is quite deadly but the arrows are scarce. All of them have limited durability, encouraging you to look for new weapons. You can also make potions to heal and boost your damage, improving the odds of your survival.

That sure looks like a Demogorgon

Keeping up with the Drakes

Each Drake has its Food, Water, and Entertainment levels to keep a close eye on that determine their well-being. Out of juice boxes? Well, whack a few cars and you’ll have plenty to drink for your Drakes. Are the Drakes hungry? Throw some food in the cauldron. Are they getting bored? Craft a rag doll or a yoga ball. However, your character doesn’t need anything to drink or eat. In other words, you’re not surviving for yourself, you’re surviving for the Drakes. As you craft more things and raise fortifications, your camp level increases as well. Likewise, the Drakes offer you charms, boosters, and gifts. These gifts often come with new weapons and gears.

Isn’t he adorable?

Weighing the pros and cons so far

I liked the fast-travel and inspect mode in the game. The semi-cartoonish visual-style reminiscent of Fortnite is appealing enough for me and I can’t wait till its full release as its 4-player co-op multiplayer is something I haven’t had the chance to try out yet. Inventory management and crafting systems are appealing. The game’s performance optimization was good as well: my GTX 1050 managed to maintain 45-60 FPS at medium-high settings during all times. It’s also going to be available on the Xbox Game Pass at launch which is pretty cool.

The beta sure was a lot of fun for me but it felt a bit repetitive and lonesome at times. The procedurally-generated world felt empty for the most part and dead too. The lack of a compelling narrative bothered me as well but it felt right as I’m not sure if it would serve any purpose here. Finding the Drakes was a bit difficult for me, as they look plant-like and are well hidden in the vegetation. It would be great if the devs added an option to highlight the Drakes.

As of now, Drake Hollow is available in limited beta and has no confirmed release date though it was previously slated to have an initial release on July 17th. Still, I’m left with a positive impression after playing the beta and I cannot wait to see what else it has in store for us.

Disclaimer: Drake Hollow preview code provided by the publishers with no riders.

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