Drawn: Dark Flight is the direct sequel to last year's hidden object/adventure hybrid Drawn: The Painted Tower, and it spins another intricate tale of dark mystery and intrigue. It pulls you in with a delicious atmosphere crafted by sublime visuals and strong storytelling, and its adventure-centric gameplay builds upon that by getting you to think about the environment, the items you find, and the puzzles in front of you. It's easily one of the best casual adventure games ever released.
If you haven't played the original Drawn, some of the storytelling nuances will be lost on you. You can still dive right in, of course, as the sequel gives you a quick rundown before you begin, but the experience is so much richer having the first game under your belt. Iris, a young girl who can make her drawings come to life, escaped the evil king in the original game. Now, the Painted Tower has crumbled with you beneath it, and Iris has hidden herself inside a book. Your task is to work through the rubble and emerge in the library, then light the town's beacons to ward off the darkness so Iris can take her place as Queen.
Gameplay in Drawn: Dark Flight is very organic, leaving most obvious genre formulas hidden from view. Each small area contains a number of items you can pick up and store in your inventory. Use the items to gain access to other parts of the scenes, opening doors and moving objects out of the way so you can progress. Paintings serve as another layer of scenery, allowing you to complete pictures and dive inside to solve more puzzles for even more inventory items. Even when you complete an area, you'll still have leftover inventory items to use later on. Backtracking is an important part of the game, as is experimenting and paying close attention to plot details and events in each scene.
Short puzzles that serve as mini-games also appear in Drawn 2, but they're unlike anything you would expect from an adventure game. Instead of jigsaw puzzles or number riddles, you'll bang on metal bars in the right sequence, play with pop-up books, and assemble stone drawings by moving pillars and completing the picture. Drawn never breaks continuity and weaves these diversions right into the game, so you never leave the environment and your immersion stays complete.
Analysis: Drawn: Dark Flight is absolutely mesmerizing. Very few games have the ability to pull you in so thoroughly. Right from the start you'll be riveted to your screen, soaking in all the details about Iris and her plight, wishing you could hop in the game and run around the rich world. The gameplay feels like an extension of the story, and these elements get along so well, you'll begin to wonder how you could ever play a second-rate adventure game again.
Visually, Drawn sticks to its roots with a largely soft palette of cool colors and dark settings. This changes later, of course, and the brightly-colored places show off just as much artistic flair as you would expect. Each area is like a painting and is a treat to look at. When you catch the multiple paper cutout scenes, you'll be even more impressed! The voice acting is nothing to turn your nose at, either, which is a great change of pace for a casual game.
Drawn: Dark Flight requires you to actually pay attention to the story and details in the environment to progress. In other words, you can't play this game while working on a sudoku puzzle on your phone. If you aren't devoting your full attention to the experience, you'll miss a lot of what the game has to offer, and you'll find yourself stuck every few minutes. Even if the next step isn't obvious, Drawn: Dark Flight offers a way out with unlimited advice and hint systems to nudge you on your way. Use them when you're in a bind, but don't spoil the game by overusing them! Mini-games can also be skipped after a short time, though usually you'll be far too engrossed to leave them behind.
There is absolutely nothing to find fault with in this game. It's perfectly sculpted from beginning to end, crafting a story that's intriguing, gameplay that never ceases to be interesting, and an overall experience that will leave you satisfied but ready for more. Easily one of the best casual adventure games ever released.
A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a new quest with alternate ending, achievements to earn throughout the game, strategy guide, wallpapers, soundtrack, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.