Monday, February 20, 2012

Drawn: The Painted Tower and Drawn 2 Review (Spoiler-Free)

In the ruins of a once-glorious city, a little girl is trapped atop a tower. It is up to you to make your way up the tower by entering a series of wall paintings and solving their puzzles. Along the way, you learn more about the girl, her special history, and the insidious forces that are keeping her confined in the tower. The sequel, Drawn 2, picks up right where the first game left off.

Drawn is my favorite iOS game thus far and one of the best point-and-click adventure games I've played regardless of platform. The only complaint I had about the first game was that the movement controls were a bit unclear. There were a few times where I meant to enter a painting and accidentally walked away from it, or vice versa. The sequel, Drawn 2, corrects this problem by showing an arrow when you first tap on the screen and requiring a second tap on the arrow in order to move.

The art is delightfully dystopian and draws (no pun intended) a sharp contrast between the dark, crumbling tower and the colorful, lively worlds that exist in each painting. The soundtrack is so mood-appropriate that it's almost unnoticeable. Ominous, sad, orchestral music plays in the tower, while, for example a painting of a meadow is accompanied by the springy chorus of birds, crickets, and a babbling brook. In a good accessibility decision, the sound is never required for playing the game. It does not confer any hints or advantages, there are no puzzles requiring sound, and all of the cut scenes are both voice-acted and subtitled.

I actually preferred the cut scenes in the first game over those in the sequel. The first game tended to have cut scenes that were related to the puzzle, while the second game has a lot of cut scenes portraying the antagonist. The sequel seems to have more cut scenes overall as well.

The puzzles are appropriate for a range of ages and skill levels. On the easy end, some puzzles took me only a few touches to complete, while one puzzle took me over an hour (to be fair, I was simultaneously watching basketball). There is an objective bar in the left corner that gives a subtle hint as the objective title. When you tap it, it gives a specific step to take. If you're really stuck, there is a "Hint" button in the lower right corner that will show a picture of the area with a circle around the solution.

I've tried to use the objectives and hints as sparingly as possible, but using them definitely does not ruin the game because it is very story-driven. In fact, for actual puzzles (not objects you need to gather to unlock puzzles), there is a "Skip Puzzle" option that shows up at the top of the screen after a certain amount of time. I have not used that option yet, but it probably completes the puzzle, allowing the player to continue with the story. There are at least two puzzles that rely heavily on color matching/recognition, so the skip option could come in handy for people with colorblindness.

The game does have a chivalry motif at various times, depicting a male knight slaying a dragon to save a woman. However, the player character does not (yet) have a defined gender, though I have not completed Drawn 2, so a gender may be revealed at the end. I hope the player character's gender remains undefined; it would be a bit of a letdown to find out at the end that my character was a stereotypical male hero.

At $7 per game, they are on the pricey side, but there is plenty of content to make them worth the money. Drawn took me about 10 hours to complete, and I've put in about 8 hours on Drawn 2 so far. I will most likely not replay the games, but there is some replay value if you are going for achievements that were missed the first time around. If you like point-and-click adventure games and/or beautifully illustrated fantasy worlds, I cannot recommend Drawn and Drawn 2 more highly.

Have you played Drawn or Drawn 2? What did you think?
Do you have any questions that weren't covered in the review?
Do you have another game suggestion for people who liked Drawn/Drawn 2?
(Please, no spoilers in the comments.)

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