Welcome To Elk

Welcome To Elk – Hands-On Impressions at PAX East 2020

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There’s nothing better at major events like PAX East than finding a small corner of the event with a home-run-hitting indie title, outside of the confines of the mega booths from the major publishers. One of those experiences was with Welcome To Elk from Triple Topping Games. 

This experimental “biographical adventure” takes you to the sparsely-colored world of Elk. Here you play a young woman named Frigg, who has interactions with various locals that lead to some tales told by real-life people. You heard that right — this title takes literal recorded footage of people relaying an interesting or momentous story and transforms it into video game form. 

Welcome To Elk

In the demo I played through, we met a woman and her child at the local watering hole, where with the basic chat interaction, we discover a part of their dark history. We learn that they are alone after the passing of her husband, but the way he passed is shown to us in the form of a flashback, where a couple of the townsfolk we met earlier (in quite a negative interaction, I might add) rounded the husband up for a murder he committed while trying to survive through a prison sentence. After the confrontation and discussion, these ne’er-do-wells end his life in front of his wife and child. Gruesome and rough to watch, for sure, even in the hand-drawn art style. 

Welcome To Elk

At this point, we are taken to real-life footage of the younger brother of the developer, Astrid,  telling this tale that he heard when he was living in a trailer park in California. This was a true story, which is even more appalling than what was just witnessed. In this gritty commentary, he even notes the reactions of the wife and child afterward being that they were forced to live off of squirrels to survive, and that poor, poor child’s trauma, stating “The day daddy died, I’m never gonna forget that day.”

After this, the demo concluded, and I was forced to hold back tears. Welcome To Elk is going to be a bombshell once the dozens of stories are told through this medium and I cannot wait to see what else is in store, even if it stays that dark and devastating to hear. Currently slated for a 2020 release on PC, Mac, and Steam, Welcome To Elk will offer a tough look at life and how to get past those struggles with laughter and community. Hopefully, that journey comes to the Nintendo Switch as well.

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