Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading.
In this explanatory review, we’re covering Frank and Drake by developer Appnormals Team:
Frank and Drake: (The Explanation)
Frank and Drake is a single-player indie game now available on the Nintendo Switch. The game has a unique art style that incorporates rotoscoped video converted to video game animations and images. The style is sure to draw a lot of people in and to be fair, it was the main draw for me in wanting to play the game. Now with review code in hand, it’s time to play Frank and Drake for our Explain & Play review.
The game opens up with you controlling Frank and walking back to his apartment. There was limited movement with the L-stick moving Frank left or right, forward or backward. Some of the opening scenes of the game include some point-and-click-style gameplay as you interact with elements in the background. You can slow your walking frame by frame, which is cool as you take in the backgrounds which are each well-designed.
As you enter your apartment your journal acts as your task objectives. That game shows you that you can check off things on your list, which I got to do a few times in the opening days of the game. Entering your apartment building lets you interact with things in the mailroom that give you a bit of context into the world that Frank lives in, as well as, some of the happenings in the building and other neighbors.
With each new scene, you will want to move your cursor around with the R-stick to see what you can interact with. When you enter your apartment Underdog, your wheelchair-bound pup greets you and you get a letter that you will want to read. Since the game tells its story through notes and various interactive pieces and not voices, there is a lot to read and take in early in the game. The note I received gave me some choices to make. It was unclear to me if the choices I made in the game resulted in changes in the story or gameplay, but I can assume they did to some extent since the choices resulted in my preparation for Drake moving in.
While I sat Frank down on the couch, I played an interactive crossword game I found on the coffee table. By holding down the interact button and dragging to the end of the word, I was able to complete the crossword puzzle. After completing the puzzle book it was time to interact with other elements in the room. I could move around to the shelf where objects had a slight movement to their outline. The game employs this method of letting the user know what they can interact with. I thought it was better than having the glowing items or other methods that typically took me out of the interactive experience of the game.
After looking around the living room it was time to clean up the room and get things ready for Drake to move in. While getting the water bed ready for Drake I came across a gun and some ammo. I decided to take it and not leave it there for Drake to find. Plugging in a fan allowed me to move some dust out of the way which revealed some story words. Rummaging through the various boxes lets Frank reminisce about his past, see some recipes from his mom, and fix a window. The puzzle with the window blinds wasn’t really clear what I had to do or how to solve it, but I managed to figure it out.
Right from the start, Frank and Drake had me intrigued as to what the story is and how it will unfold. The gameplay reminded me of the old DS game Hotel Dusk which has a similar vibe to it and was a point-and-click narrative game. If you like interesting story games with atypical game design, Frank and Drake are sure to scratch that itch and fill a void. The smooth music and rotoscoped animation art is something that I don’t think I have seen before on the Switch, or anywhere for that matter. I recommend picking it up and giving it a try.
Frank and Drake: (The Gameplay)
Developers: Appnormals Team
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
No. of Players: 1 (Single System)
Release Date: July 20, 2023
File Size: 7.2 GB