Drawn: Dark Flight

Posted by Jess Beebe.
First posted on 28 September 2010. Last updated on 20 November 2011.
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Drawn: Dark Flight
The tower has been badly damaged by the King's attack.
Drawn: Dark Flight
The room of Iris's guardian, Franklin, now lies in ruins.
Drawn: Dark Flight
A mysterious tunnel lies beneath the tower.
Drawn: Dark Flight
A grand library is filled with many books and more puzzles to solve.
Drawn: Dark Flight
The man looks as unpleasant as the scenery in the poster where he is trapped.

Drawn: Dark Flight Collector's Edition

The Collector's Edition includes new quests with an alternate ending, unique achievements, original concept art and soundtrack, and an integrated Smart Guide not found in the original.

The ending of Drawn: The Painted Tower is somewhat abrupt and leaves the story essentially unresolved. Iris, the gifted young girl which you have been tasked to search for during the game, is confronted by a dark, ominous figure and shortly thereafter vanishes into thin air. Now, Drawn: Dark Flight picks up directly from this ambiguous ending and tries to tie up many of the loose ends left off by its predecessor, taking you on a journey out of the tower and into the gloomy surrounding town.

The sequel begins in the tower from the previous game, which is now in ruins. The narrator informs you that the King—the dark figure that appears at the end of that game—has since destroyed the tower trying to find Iris. After you find your way out of the destroyed tower, your goal is to light up the first and second of a trio of beacons surrounding the town, which have been previously extinguished by the King. You also have to find Iris again, since she must light up the third (and last) beacon on her own. Once all the beacons are lit, the King will be defeated and Iris will become Queen.

Comparatively, this sequel is as immersive and enchanting as the original. The haunting and atmospheric music, the beautiful hand drawn background art, and the perplexing puzzles are just as impressive, if not more so. Even though the story is minimal, it is very easy to lose yourself in the game's many locales as you search for Iris and the beacons. Not surprisingly, the many fantastic, surreal elements of the previous game are not confined to the tower alone: the surrounding town is filled with many bizarre objects and characters. A little boy made of wood and a broken window will speak to you, books will fly through the air like birds, and mysterious shadowy creatures will skulk in the streets, trying to stop you from completing your quest. Iris' magical paintings are also present throughout the town, and as in the previous game, you can step inside these paintings and interact with their many inhabitants. You will also be creating and using sketches that will turn into real objects or characters once they are placed in the appropriate spots—a gameplay element from the previous game that still retains its charm in this sequel.

Though the first few puzzles in this game are relatively simple, the later puzzles become much more difficult as the game progresses. Overall, the puzzles in Drawn: Dark Flight are considerably harder than those in Drawn: The Painted Tower. Even puzzles that appear simple at first glance may require a good deal of planning and forethought in order to solve. Fortunately, the game has a "Skip Puzzle" option in case you become stuck on a particularly hard puzzle. The game also has a help button which you can click on that explains the object of the puzzle you are currently working on.

The puzzles in this sequel are also more varied than those in the original. For example, in a certain puzzle, you have to piece together several tattered posters to form an image, and in another puzzle, you must catch symbols as they fall from the top at the right side of the screen while clearing a path for them to float up at the left side. There are not very many traditional adventure game puzzles here (such as finding a particular object to give to a character in order to trade for another object to give to another character, and so on), but the uniqueness of the puzzles that are in this game more than makes up for their absence.

The music in this game is rich and atmospheric and just as diverse as the game's puzzles. Though most of the themes throughout the town are sad yet beautiful orchestral pieces, a rousing little chantey will play when you speak with a pirate inside a painting, a peaceful melody will fill your ears when you bring daylight to a magical city—that is, until the music grows darker and driving near the game's finale.

The interface used in this sequel is nearly identical to that used in the original. You interact with the game using a single cursor. The items that you acquire during your quest are stashed at the bottom of the screen. Hotspots that can be interacted with will sparkle brightly, and the cursor will always change shape when it is over an important hotspot. The hint feature from the previous game is still available in this game, as is the chalkboard which informs you of your current objective. There are also 2 levels of difficulty to choose from when you start the game: the Casual setting begins with a tutorial and the objectives displayed on the chalkboard tells you explicitly what you must do, while the Experienced setting lacks the tutorial and the objectives displayed on the chalkboard only hint at what you need to do next.

As wonderful as this game is, it is not without its flaws. As a casual game, this game may still be a bit too short for adventure game fans looking for a game that will keep them busy for more than a few hours. It also has its fair share of pixel hunts, with some objects that are so well hidden that they cannot be located without panning the cursor randomly around the screen and waiting for it to change when it finally hits the associated hotspots. Moreover, just as in the original, there is no way to save the game—once you have gotten past a particular point in the game, there is no way to replay it without starting over from the beginning.

Overall, Drawn: Dark Flight is a worthy successor to Drawn: The Painted Tower. The backgrounds and animations are a feast for the eyes, and the puzzles are just as entertaining as they are challenging. Though the game's ending appears to bring Iris' story to a close, it nonetheless leaves the door open for another sequel. Judging from what I have seen so far, I eagerly look forward to finding out what awaits Iris in the future.

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