The Drawn series continue to set the puzzle/adventure standard
With this third installment in the fantastic Drawn series, Big Fish continues to set the standard that all other puzzle/adventure games should aspire to. In Trail of Shadows, you meat a grandfather figure speaking to a young girl named Iris. Through his bedtime story, we learn of a young boy with the power to bring his paintings to life. One painting however, was better left in the boy’s imagination, as it unleashes a terrible wizard that draws the boy inside and traps him there, ruining the rest of the boy’s painted worlds along the way.
Your part in our story is as the creative, unnamed hero. You follow the boy into his paintings, where you’ll find magical creatures and friends that will guide you from one setting to the next. You’ll need to repair tears in paintings to continue on the trail, with each painting being as beautiful as the last.
As with previous Drawn titles, the gameplay here can be simply described as a “puzzle adventure,” but it really is so much more than that. The puzzles here are incredibly varied and while mostly challenging, are just as satisfying to complete. A few mini-games are even added in, seeing you being challenged to a full game of croquet or helping an animated figure past obstacles in a game reminiscent of those on classic home consoles. Unfortunately, if you find yourself stuck, the hint system will simply solve things for you, rather than guiding you in the right direction, but this doesn’t greatly detract from the experience (especially if you never use them).
The rest of the game is just as varied and highly detailed. While you may interact with plenty of items as-is, there are also numerous opportunities to draw (connect-the-dots or lines), paint (carve and paint figures out of wood), or otherwise interact with the world in an artistic fashion. Things start as cheery, bright and colorful, but over time turn to dark and frightening, with the environments’ color palettes matching your increased sense of danger as you progress.
Tying the entire experience together are frequent cutscenes where we head back outside the painting(s) to hear the bedtime story being told, with this mechanic being added to your own gameplay as well. You’ll come across many pages ripped from a storybook, with pop-up images and pieces of paper that can be rotated or manipulated to either reflect what’s going on in the outside world, or give you a clue as to how to progress next.
While the artistic elements in Drawn: Trail of Shadows may now seem commonplace to previous fans of the series, and the overall game lasts around 3 hours, the entire overall package here – graphics, soundtrack (complete with voice acting), varied settings, interesting puzzles, engaging storyline – is still one that is so polished and so downright fun to play that you’d only be doing yourself a disservice by not jumping right in.