Island exploration game Welcome to Elk is heading to PC on September 17, and if you've not heard of it before, it's definitely one to watch. The felt-tip pen art might make it seem whimsical, but it's a game that tells the stories of real people, and some of them are surprisingly dark.
You wouldn't know this from the start of the fifteen-minute demo, which is available for free over on Steam. It begins with a surreal dream-sequence of the main character Frigg singing karaoke with a talking llama wearing a pirate hat. Totally normal by dream standards.
Welcome to Elk is full of mini-games, and in this sequence I can press W, A, S, and D to make Frigg sing along. It's fun, and a little kooky. After waking up and exploring the island, Frigg skips to meet a friend and they go to the pub together where I take part in another mini-game. I have to pour the perfect pint, tilting the glass at just the right angle to get the perfect amount of foam. I do terribly, but it's all good! This is the direction I thought Welcome to Elk was going, a fun adventure with mini-games with a streak of silliness. But suddenly it all changes.
After chatting casually with a character about how her family unashamedly eats squirrels, I'm transported to a distressing memory and caught completely off-guard. The screenshot above gives you an idea about what happens, but I don't want to spoil anything. The scene ends and a black and white video clip of a man starts playing and he recounts a real-life tragic event that involves the characters in the game—it's pretty harrowing.
Welcome to Elk looks like it's filled with these accounts, and developer Triple Topping says that through these video clips you'll meet the living people who inspired the studio to make the game. I'm definitely excited to play more, even if I've got a bit more trepidation about exploring the island.