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Video Game / Draugen

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Draugen is an Environmental Narrative Game developed by Red Thread Games of Dreamfall Chapters fame, and released for PC on May 29th, 2019.

It is set in 1923, and follows the story of a scholar from Hanover, Massachusetts named Edward Charles Harden and his ward Lissie, as the two arrive from the US to the Norwegian town of Graavik, to search for Edward's missing sister, Betty, a journalist working for a New York newspaper. Betty recently went to Graavik for reasons unknown, but disappeared under mysterious circumstances during her trip.

However, they find the town abandoned, and seemingly for a long time — else the fishing boats wouldn't have started rotting and equipment in the mines would not have gotten overgrown. The fact that the town's craftsmen abandoned their prized tools of trade to such fate only underlines the gravity of the situation, and deepens the mystery before the pair. The game is mainly inspired by works from Norwegian Romanticism, including Henrik Ibsen and the painter Hans Gude, taking a look at the darker underbelly of rural Norway, but also adds a dash of the works of H. P. Lovecraft.


Tropes present in Draugen:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Lissie typically refers to Edward as either "old bean", "old sport" and "old boy". At times, she may even call him "Teddybear", much to his annoyance.
  • Agent Scully: Edward firmly believes that all of the strange events him and Lissie experience must have a rational explantation, and dismisses her notions of curses, ghosts, and monsters. In the end though, he must admit that he cannot come up with any logical explanation for how he learned about Graavik and why wanted to go there in the first place, suggesting that it might indeed have been some kind of otherworldly pull that attracted him to the place.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: An unusual example, as the game was designed to be playable with the mouse alone.
  • Apocalyptic Log: As expected of the genre, you'll soon begin to discover various notes and letters to shed the light on what happened.
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  • Arc Symbol: The rather-Lovecraftian Norse brooch seen on both the cover art and being the game's loading symbol. It was part of the Viking trove found in the Fretland mine, and one of the things Ruth had with her when she died.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Early on, Lissie calls Edward a "Debbie Downer". The word "downer" as a way to describe a depressing or mopey person wasn't used before the 1960s or so, around 40 years after the game is set.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Many of the notes in game are in Norwegian, and while Edward does translate his tendency to merely skim rather than read in full leaves a lot of context for those who can understand Norwegian to find on their own.
  • Cain and Abel and Seth: The twins Johan and Fredrik Fretland had a younger brother named Arne. Arne's untimely death made their already deteriorating relationship worse.
  • Campbell Country: The game is set in seemingly idyllic and picturesque rural village in the developers' native Norway, but adds a lot of creepiness and foreboding by having said village be eerily empty.
  • Creepy Crows: Several ravens have taken residence in Graavik since the village's abandonment, and they oddly seem to lead Edward toward hints of what happened.
  • Crisis of Faith: The whole community of Graavik eventually succumbed to this, after all the terrible events they had suffered, believing their town to to be cursed and that God had abandoned them.
  • Dead All Along: Betty was never in Graavik, having died as an infant. The woman in the photo is actually an actress who Edward equated to Betty in his madness.
  • Death by Childbirth: Margarethe, the wife of Fredrik Fretland, died giving birth to their only son, Simon. This served to deepen the brother's feud as Margarethe and Anna's sisterly bond had kept the two cordial if not happy.
  • Death of a Child: The tragic death of Ruth Fretland is what set the tragedy into motion, turning the brother's feud into all-out war as the town tore itself apart, with the survivors either fleeing or killing themselves after.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Enabling "1923 mode" turns the game's visuals black-and-white.
  • Dialogue Tree: Edward and Lissie converse in this manner. However, all dialogue occurs in real-time, and you can freely move throughout, much like in Oxenfree.
    • You can also start talking to Lissie with your back turned...but she'll immediately demand that you look at her, and will not listen until you do.
  • Driven to Suicide: Many of the townspeople killed themselves shortly before Edward's arrival, with him and Lissie finding one still hanging from a tree on the town's outskirts. And both of Edward's parents committed suicide when he was a child.
  • Enemies List: Fredrik Fretland kept one of the people in town he considered "traitors".
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: At the end of the story, it's revealed Edward was the only living person in Graavik all along, with all of the villagers as well as Betty being long dead.
  • Exiled to the Couch: A different variation. Even though everyone in Graavik appears to have vanished long ago, Edward still sleeps on the sofa of the house they were originally invited in, instead of simply going into the vacant guest bedroom, because he feels it be very impolite to do without permission.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Note that Lissie seems to move without you looking, and that she never seems to interact with the objects.
    • On the first day, Lissie thinks that the scarf on the mannequin which matches Edward's picture doesn't prove anything and claims that Ed's memory of his sister dancing around in it didn't happen. He hastily denies this, then has an "episode". This is our first real indication that something's not quite right with him.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: It's established early that Edward is not at all physically fit, getting easily winded from short walks. Later, the player can jog around, and Edward doesn't have an issue with such exertion except when needed by the story.
  • Genki Girl: Lissie is excitable, imaginative, and always moving about, in contrast to the melancholic, serious, and reserved Edward.
  • Holler Button: Edward can call out to Lissie through the use of one.
  • Imaginary Friend: What Lissie actually is to Edward.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Betty was one, and came to Graavik as the she was the first to suspect something was off and there's a great story in the making.
  • Invisible Wall: It is occasionally possible to stumble into these if you poke around hard enough, though usually, the natural features are sufficient.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The "curse" upon Graavik is eventually said to be common tragedy, stemming from a brother's feud and their prideful refusal to reconcile destroying an already-strained community. But, the ravens showing the way to the Viking trove and other inexplicable coincidences remain.
  • Moral Myopia: Soon enough, Edward brushes the fate of everyone else in the town to the wayside to re-focus entirely on finding Betty, which Lissie never fails to call him out on.
  • Nordic Noir: The game's site even calls it "Fjord Noir" as a retro spin on this genre, with the plot focusing on unravelling the mystery surrounding a rural Norwegian village taking elements from the darkest parts of Norwegian folklore and rural society.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: There is some indication that Edward makes an effort to watch his language around Lissie. Notably, when he comes across Fredrik Fretland's Enemies List, he wonders aloud why he would keep a "shitlist", but catches himself before he can say the entire word and does a Verbal Backspace into saying "list of undesirables" instead.
  • Off-Model: The facial animation is not exactly the best in business.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Lissie will often reappear near the player if they wander too far from her, and in too little time for her to have traveled the distance by running. Justified, since she is a figment of Edward's hallucinations and can freely teleport anywhere in the story's last third.
  • Riddle for the Ages: In the end, Edward and Lissie doesn't fully uncover the exact circumstances of Ruth's death, leaving it ambiguous whether she was actually murdered or the whole thing was just a really unfortunate accident.
  • Rugged Scar: Edward, despite being a bookish scholar, has a distinctive scar on his upper lip which makes him look quite imposing.
  • Sanity Slippage: It eventually becomes clear that Edward is slowly undergoing one, as you spend days in Graavik while only scratching the surface of the mystery. By the end of the game, it's revealed his grasp on reality was unstable long before the story's beginning.
  • Scenery Porn: Graavik and the fjord it's settled in is gorgeously picturesque.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Hoo boy, the feud between Johan and Fredrik Fretland was less "rivalry" and more "deep and abiding hatred," so much so it led to Graavik's destruction.
  • This Is Reality: Edward at one points calls Lissie out on treating the events in Graavik like something out of a mystery novel:
    Edward: This is real life, not a whodunit by Agatha Christie! There won't be a trail of convenient clues leading to some neat conclusion.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Graavik seems to have been an idyllic village nestled in a pristine fjord, but notes found in game shows that even before the tragedy there was a lot of terrible feeling just under the surface.


Example of: