Drawn: The Painted Tower
Much like the Dream Chronicles series or the more recent Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse, the new casual adventure game Drawn: The Painted Tower drops you in a gorgeously drawn world filled with items to find and puzzles to solve. The story and artwork wrap the game in a brilliantly mysterious package, delivering a feast for your senses as you devour the simple (but tasty!) gameplay.
A shadow has fallen over the dark kingdom, but a legend tells of a girl who will restore the light. She lives out her dreams within the walls of the Painted Tower, drawing the world as she sees it and creating sketches and paintings with magical abilities. Imprisoned at the top of the tower, it's your job to work your way through the dark halls and set her free.
It's easy to spot the hidden object influence in a title like this, but once you start the adventure, you'll realize it's all about the story, the puzzles, and the breathtaking scenery. Each scene features a few clickable hotspots that contain mini-games, puzzles, or objects to collect. Quite often you'll come across pieces of things, such as scraps of cloth, shards of glass, etc., that need to be gathered in your inventory and assembled somewhere nearby.
Your objective is listed on the left side of the screen, but finding the right items to complete that objective may involve a little travel. A hint system is available, and it recharges a few minutes after each use, so if you're stuck, give it a click to see if it can nudge you in the right direction.
Weaving through the tower may seem like a drab affair, but thanks to the girl's vivid imagination, you'll visit a stunning variety of locations. It's a reward in itself just to see the inside of a new painting. The very first chapter takes place in a warm meadow, and the minute the screen loads, you'll be floored by the visual detail. When I saw a fully animated grasshopper crawl through the brush, I wanted to sit and stare at the scene rather than play the game.
Analysis: The biggest standout feature of Drawn: The Painted Tower is, well, everything you see and hear, from the artwork to the voice acting and even the music. The game comes to life on your screen, filling your eyes with beautifully illustrated locations that burst with vibrant (or murky, depending on the setting) colors. It's like wandering around in a slightly grim fairy tale. Appropriate given the game's plot.
The gameplay itself isn't anything new, per se, though I appreciate how easy it is to find, combine, and use items without fumbling with the interface. The usual battery of mini-games are strewn about the world, popping up in the form of jigsaw puzzles and the like when you've found all the pieces of a riddle. While the games are well-integrated into the environment, they aren't anything special, and sometimes I wished they were left out altogether. After a few seconds fiddling with each puzzle a skip button appears, so if you aren't having a good time with the mini-game, feel free to forget about it!
Beautiful presentation on every front, smooth gameplay, and an intriguing story that unfolds as you play. Drawn: The Painted Tower is a bit short, but the ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel. It may not reinvent the casual adventure game, but Drawn: The Painted Tower is definitely one of the shining stars of the genre.