Draugen Preview - Norwegian Horror


Ragnar Tørnquist is something of a celebrity to me. He is the creator of the Longest Journey/Dreamfall series; one of my favorite series in all of gaming by far. His studio, Red Thread Games is now working on a Nordic survival horror game entitled Draugen.

While this is the second game his studio is making (Dreamfall Chapters being the first), apparently the studio was founded for the purpose of making this game. With a release date set for 2016, this is looking to be one of the most unique horror titles coming to PS4. Let’s take a look and see what mysteries this game has waiting for us.

The Road to Development: How Draugen Came to Be

When Ragnar left Funcom to form a new studio, people assumed that his purpose was to finish the Dreamfall saga he started more than fifteen years ago. In reality, though, he doesn’t own the rights to Dreamfall, he licensed the rights to it. That means that sales for the previous games still go to Funcom, not Red Thread Games.

In an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Ragnar talked about the true purpose behind his new studio.

“Dreamfall belongs to Funcom, it belongs to my youth, it belongs to the fans. It’s become their story rather than ours, and not everybody here worked on The Longest Journey or Dreamfall. Some of the team are young and new. Draugen will be our game.”

It’s clear that all the time he’s spent on Dreamfall has been wearing Ragnar down, so as much as I love the series, I’m happy to see them moving on to something new. Dreamfall Chapters was funded by Kickstarter, but Red Thread Games is being funded by the Norwegian Film Institute for this new title.

Since the game is set in Norway, the country is happily funding the game through a grant. This isn’t the first time a country has funded a game. Much like the way many governments grant tax breaks to films that are set in their respective location, games are now earning the same consideration.

The grant was $150,000 and the total support for the game is $370,000 which is enough to move into production. They plan on bringing the game to Kickstarter in the near future, but for now they are able to work on it. Now that the game is in full swing, let’s take a look at what the game is actually about.

The Story of Draugen

The title of Draugen is inspired by the Old Norse word “Draugr” which is the name of an undead creature similar to a ghost, that is present in many stories of Norse Mythology. Draugrs are also present in New England Gothic, and Scandinavian fairy tales. They’ve even made an appearance in H.P. Lovecraft tales.

The quick description of the game is as follows:

“Draugen is a psychological survival horror game, and the player will have to survive and stay sane for one whole week in this harsh and alien environment, while investigating the many mysteries, exploring the village and its surroundings, and escaping the things that moan, whisper, and sing in the uncanny shadows.”

That’s a great setup, so where does all of this take place, besides Norway I mean. Here is how Red Thread Games describes the experience:

“Draugen is set in an isolated coastal village in northwestern Norway in 1923. The story is experienced through the eyes and spectacles of an American traveler, a stranger in a strange land, searching for his missing sister. But when the traveler arrives in this village on the edge of the civilized world, he finds that nothing is quite what it seems...and there are things out there in the deep,dark waters.”

It’s easy to write this off as a Lovecraftian game, and believe me, that would be fine because we need more of those, but I think this game will have its own spin that sticks more to the Norse mythology present in that part of the world.

Red Thread Games is experimenting with different ideas at this stage, so nothing is set in stone, but some of the ideas rolling around are pretty cool. Check out some of the concepts:

  • Your glasses will become dirty or cracked, distorting your view of the world
  • Hallucinations that may be the result of something like Charles Bonnet Syndrome
  • The game may take place over seven days and seven nights
  • A direct threat to the player at night
  • The presence of Draugr that emerge from the sea
  • Letters to someone in America to commentate on the events
  • Story events inspired by local legends and Norse mythology

Again, these are all ideas that they’re throwing around, but the pedigree of the company, along with the unique setting are enough to put this one on my radar for sure. What do you think of Draugen? Let us know in the comments below!

Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 4/1/16

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