Genre: Indie | Puzzle | Point and Click
Modes: Single Player
Developed by: Appnormals Team
Published by: Chorus Worldwide
Initial release date: July 20, 2023
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4,
Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One
Platform I played on: Xbox Series X
Thanks to the Appnormals Team and Chorus Worldwide Games for the review code!
When I first heard of Frank and Drake, I was immediately intrigued by the games premise, and art style. After finally getting around to checking this game out, I found myself unravelling a relatively unique, branching narrative title that begs for multiple playthroughs. There were also a few nice twists that I wasn't expecting, and made the experience that much more enjoyable. Frank and Drake somehow wind up in the heart of something so sinister, it's almost impossible to guess as to where their mysterious pasts may lead you.
So, who are Frank and Drake?
Frank and Drake are two roommates with polar opposite schedules, who never meet in person, but are both involved in the heart of a supernatural mystery. They don't know this yet, but they will. Coincidence, or were these two brought together by unknown forces?
Set in the fictional city of Oriole City in the USA, Frank is the super of a run-down apartment building (where he and Drake live). Frank works during the day and he's also losing his mind in ways you can't begin to imagine. Oh, and how could I forget to mention, he also has a dog named.... underdog! (10/10 goodest dog). Drake on the other hand is "allergic" to the sunlight, so he works and lives throughout the night, and sleeps during the day. As the player, you'll play as both characters - Frank during the day, and Drake at night, respectively.
Due to their different lifestyles, Frank and Drake never see each other in person. However, they do communicate with each other via post-it notes that they leave for each other on the fridge. The post-it notes were among some of my favourite aspects about this game. It's clever, and makes their bond even more important.
Depending on your choices as both characters, you can either make Frank and Drake's friendship close, neutral or distant. Without going into further spoilers, forging a specific bond between the two is key in how the narrative will unfold. While playing as each character across seven days, you'll also have the choice to pick which locations to go to and explore. Depending on what you choose and uncover, it will have a profound impact on the story and characters.
All dialogue throughout the game is text based through Frank and Drake's journals, various storytelling elements, and the post-it notes. There's no spoken dialogue until the very end of the game, which I believe made the ending that much more impactful. Of course, this will depend on which ending you get, as there are 6 possible endings to unlock. With the endings I got and have seen so far, I think it's worth unravelling where the narrative can branch off too, as the story is compelling enough to see through the lore and mystery.
One thing to also note is that the pacing and writing to me in some parts of the story can feel a little off, but it's not that overpowering where it ruined the experience too much.
To me, I would describe the gameplay as a challenging, minimalistic simple point and click, though I still did have some issues with particular puzzles. Right off the bat, some puzzles were a bit clunky and unclear to understand. The game doesn't tell you what to do, you just have to figure it out for yourself which does present a challenge. Now don't get it wrong, to an extent I don't think it's a bad idea when games don't always guide you, but with some puzzles and moments, it was just a bit frustrating, and a bit of guidance would have sufficed.
The gameplay also provides a decent amount of exploration areas, and heavily relies on the player to sift through and read texts. Another nit-pick for me is that some texts were a bit too small for me to read - especially when they didn't provide a text box to read specific handwriting.
In each location you go to as either Frank or Drake, the game will give you the option to choose which location and a puzzle to select. This puzzle will need to be solved in order to progress the story to switch to the other character, while some puzzles are optional and will uncover more backstory.
Rotoscoping A Unique New World
While Frank and Drake isn't (and won't be) the first game to use rotoscope graphics, it isn't utilized as often in video games these days, which is why Frank and Drake caught my attention initially. The muted colour palette visuals are rich with details and character, capturing the mysterious world that surrounds the characters.
Sound Design | Soundtrack
As there is no spoken dialogue until the very end of the game, music is the heart of Frank and Drake with it's fantastic music change for each character. As both characters are polar opposites, the character themes are no different.
First thing I thought of when listening to Frank's theme was the Gone Girl Soundtrack. It's not as intense as Fincher's Mystery Thriller Soundtrack, but there's still quite a familiar sound with it's ominous, dark tone. Alongside this sound, there's some hip-hop rhythm infused which works perfectly together. It has a much darker tone compared to Drake's theme.
Drake's theme on the other hand is jazzy, swingy, and much more upbeat than Frank's theme. My first thought went to La La Land, and, and overall the vibe of a mysterious underground jazz club. I just don't know how else to describe it or if that's the composers intention, but that's how I'd describe it.
The soundtrack was composed by Kai Engel, who has done quite a bit of work on various short films, tv series and even a podcast series. Some of his work includes TV Series The Handmaiden, Podcast series Cascadia, and Short Leo.
Length | Replay ability
With six possible endings and multiple branches to take, Frank and Drake provides great replay value for those especially wanting to nab a platinum or bump up their gamer score. One standard playthrough will take under 2 hours, so if you have a free weekend, you could see everything in just about one or two sittings.
Glitches | Bugs | Issues
I personally didn't encounter any issues, bugs or glitches. It was smooth sailing all the way through (despite my frustration at some particular puzzles). As I always say though, this isn't to say there aren't any, just that I personally didn't come across any.
Despite some flaws I found with it personally, Frank and Drake still overall provides a short, unique story that's well worth checking out. If you're looking for something with quick time events or heavy action, you won't get that with Frank and Drake, but if you're someone who's looking for something a little bit different, then look no further than Frank and Drake.