Frank and Drake Review – A Surreal Adventure You Shouldn’t Distance Yourself From

    Title: Frank and Drake
    Developer: Appnormals Team
    Release Date: July 20, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Chorus Worldwide Games
    Genre: Adventure

Remember how some older point-and-click adventure games used the painstaking process of rotoscoping to create fluid animations and graphics? I haven’t seen one of those in a while. It’s a really fun style that, when done well, creates extremely fluid animations that are full of life (why wouldn’t they be, they’re literally animating over videos of people).

Appnormals Team apparently agrees as they thought it would be a great medium to use for the animation in their new point-and-click narrative adventure game, Frank and Drake. Published by Chorus Worldwide Teams for PC via Steam as well as Xbox and Playstation series consoles and Nintendo Switch, this surreal adventure game is an enticing experience for the narrative enjoyer.

Frank and Drake is a point-and-click with a very blatant gimmick. You play as both Frank and Drake, apartment roommates who work the day and night shifts and thus will never meet. Frank is suffering from a classic old case of amnesia and has started filling out a diary to make it easier on himself if it happens again.

Frank and Drake 1

He feels something is suspect in the building he lives in, though, which would seem like stock paranoia. Still, his suspicions turn out well-founded when he receives a mysterious letter with a smoke bomb packed with anesthesia and other mystery compounds.

This is on Drake’s first night at the apartment. Great start. Since inhaling some of that Gas, Drake has started seeing dead people who give him cryptic messages. Neither of the two is having a good time, yet it’s still up to them to somehow solve some mysteries and hopefully not get fired from work.

Frank and Drake 2

The gameplay here is best described as ‘follow the prompts.’ While it is a point-and-click adventure game with various puzzles, they’re all extremely contextual. Arranging things into a particular pattern, spotting something strange on security footage, rummaging through someone’s room, cracking open a safe, siphoning blood, floundering your way through a maze, they’re all different and provide some extra interactivity to the narrative as it happens. And besides the maze, they’re pretty fun. The maze sucks; my guy says, ‘Normally I’d jump the fence, but now I’m down to play these games’ when we’re under a time limit. Buddy, please, you do not have time for this. But this is an outlier.

There’s no exploring the apartment and picking up items to be used later, pixel hunting is only to find the next thing you need to progress, and even then, everything is outlined in an excellent shaking outline.

Frank and Drake 3

It matches the outlines of our two-player characters. I love the animation used here. Usually, there’s like a >hold direction< prompt during small animated sequences just to give it a bit of extra weight and good emphasis. Frank and Drake has a unique visual style outside of just the lovely rotoscoping, which lies in how both of our leads see the world.

Clicking an object will net you a description. Normal enough. But Frank will personify the object, treat it like a conscious thing and have words with it, or imagine it talking to him. Meanwhile, Drake narrates everything with minor quips and things. While they both fill out their journals, they write down very different things and even use different fonts. The two being out at other times of day means it looks and feels different even when they go to the exact location. Each side of the coin has its own atmosphere.

Frank and Drake 4

This is also because of the music. Each of our protagonists has their own style, with Frank having more somber and pensive tunes, while Drake has a more jaunty and whimsical vibe. I love the soundtrack, and I’m pretty happy I’ve got it in my metaphorical hands now since you can buy it on Steam alongside the game.

As you progress through the seven-day story, you’ll be given a litany of choices between two tasks leading to new events, puzzles, and reveals. But you won’t get everything on your first playthrough, not because there’s a specific true ending per se, but rather because there’s a collection of potential outcomes with variations depending on your protagonist’s relationship.

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You cannot see everything because you won’t encounter everything, and your first ending, even if good, will likely leave you frustrated with many unanswered questions. However, that’ll be fixed with a replay, and once you get the gist of things, you’ll realize that feeling of things unresolved doesn’t pervade successive endings.

The narrative structure is ultimately really good. Even though there’s no skip button and you need to replay the whole game from square one, full replays are short, and various choices will recontextualize more and more information as you progress their routes, which makes the beginning of each run all the stronger.

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Frank and Drake is an exceptionally well-crafted game, and I was transfixed for almost the entire experience, uncovering the secrets and mysteries it held. The unique atmosphere conjured from the distinct visual styles and fantastic soundtrack is utterly amazing. If you want to kick back with a narrative full of intrigue, then this is definitely not a title to pass up.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Pyre Kavanagh

Senior Editor - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so they can buy more murder mysteries. @PyreLoop on twitter