A few weeks ago, Brandon from That Green Dude very kindly nominated Later Levels for a Sunshine Blogger Award (a huge thank you if you’re reading this!). As seems to be the case with most nominations which involve a set of questions, one of those he’d posed for his selected blogs stood out: which video game company do you like the most?
I considered several answers to this quandary. LucasArts was an obvious choice as the creator of my beloved Monkey Island series and the studio which set me on the path to becoming a lifelong adventure lover. But there was also Cyan, developer of the Myst titles and behind the Kickstarter campaign for the 25th anniversary edition. And who could forget Wadjet Eye Games – I’d been a fan of their work since playing the Blackwell series and really enjoyed their modern take on a point-and-click with Unavowed recently.
How about Red Thread Games though? No other series captured my imagination in the same way as The Longest Journey and the releases are some of the finest examples of storytelling in video games in my opinion. Rather than share an individual story in each episode, everything is connected in ways which aren’t at first obvious: separate elements that appear unconnected are eventually weaved together in a way where it slowly dawns on you how significant they actually were.
As well as producing some amazing titles, the Red Thread team are such lovely people. I had the pleasure of first meeting Ragnar Tørnquist and Martin Bruusgaard at Rezzed in June 2013 where I’d positioned myself in the front row at their developer session after becoming a Kickstarter backer for Dreamfall Chapters. They remembered me when I saw them again at the expo in March the following year and were even so kind as to send me a lovely email after the show.
I remember that event fondly as it was where Tørnquist and Bruusgaard shared new footage from Dreamfall Chapters and played through a demo for the audience. The team then shared the world premiere of the trailer for their first-person psychological horror game Draugen which was, according to Tørnquist: “Sort of like Gone Home meets Amnesia… a game about story, a game about mood and atmosphere”.
Hang on… that was over four years ago. What the hell has happened to Draugen?
It was meant to be a title set in the north-western coast of Norway in October 1923, where players experience the story through the eyes of Edward Charles Harden. The American traveller is with his young ward Alice in the remote village of Graavik to investigate the disappearance of his sister Elizabeth. Over the following week, they end up unravelling a mystery which goes back decades but also start to question Edward’s sanity: can we trust everything he sees and hears?
Forget Elizabeth being missing though – it seems as if the entire game has vanished! It was originally due to be released in 2015 following a proposed crowdfunding campaign but there seems to be hardly any information about the project. The details on the official website are sparse; the last mention of the game on the Facebook page was over two years ago; and the Wikipedia entry for the title doesn’t exist. The only recent update I’ve been able to find is a tweet from June saying that the game isn’t dead.
Now that I’ve been reminded of Draugen through writing this response to Brandon’s award nomination, I can’t think of another title I want so badly. I became so invested in the overarching storyline of The Longest Journey instalments, so much so that I still haven’t been able to complete Dreamfall Chapters because I don’t want it to end. The thought of there soon being another narrative-driven game from the developer therefore makes me incredibly excited and I’ll be looking out for any further news.
To anyone from Red Thread Games: if you’re reading this, please tell me there’s some truth in that tweet about Draugen and give me something to look forward to. I promise I’ll love you forever if you do.