Welcome to Elk is a biographical adventure set on an island like no other, where every character you encounter has a story to tell. From the weird and wonderful to the dark and desperate, all the tales told on Elk are based on true stories of life on the road less traveled.
Publisher: Triple Topping
Reviewed on: PC
Also available for: Xbox One, Mac
Developer: Triple Topping
Team: Andreas Busk, Anne Louise Laugesen, Astrid Mie Refstrup, Dennis Hansen, Karina Psoborg, Konrad Mampe, Mikkel Anttila, Murray Somerwolff, Simon Stalhandske
Storytellers: Ingrid Refstrup Majgaard, Jan Hyldgaard Christensen, Lauge Majgaard Christensen
Welcome to Elk is like nothing else I’ve played. It’s a weird and wonderful game full of heart and carries an emotional deck like none other. A love letter to storytelling, our oldest art form, in a way I’ve never seen before. The entire game only takes about three hours to play, but it’s impossible to put down and I couldn’t stop thinking about it hours after rolling the credits.
I would implore anyone interested to just play Welcome to Elk without knowing anything more. With that said, I will be trying to keep as spoiler-free as possible because the game deserves it.
You play as Frigg, a young girl who has just arrived on Elk Island. You’re here to learn about carpentry from Jan, an older man, and a friend of your fathers. The island is mostly just a collection of fishing supplies and cabins, but the location you’ll be spending most of your time in is the bar. The ‘Hermit Bar’ is where all of the citizens of the island hang out on a daily basis. You meet them all on your first night. A collection of mostly nice people who have their own unique personalities and stories to tell. Most of these characters are based on real people, or at least parts of them are. For example, one of the heaviest drinkers during your first night in the bar is Sue. You’ll learn later in the game just how much she likes to drink and how if “there’s no beer, she’s outta there.” An apparent common saying from the real person who inspired Sue.
Welcome to Elk mostly plays like a typical adventure game: you move Frigg around the island, interacting with objects and characters. There are no puzzle elements or fail-states, it’s a narrative-driven experience through-and-through. Although, there are several fun mini-games throughout the game. They mostly exist as ways to help the pacing of the game. At the start of the game, for example, Sue challenges Frigg to a dancing competition that involves pressing different face-buttons at the right time. Later in the game, there’s a golfing game that may or not be a cameo of What The Golf? But not everything in Welcome to Elk is fun.
Although the game features a stunning minimalist art style that looks like a kids cartoon with characters that walk with ragdoll physics, this is an adult game. At several points in the game, you’ll have to play a mini-game that’s not fun at all. Instead, they’re emotionally draining and demanding of Frigg as a character. These are also some of the most beautiful moments in the game. They draw you in and connect you to the characters of Elk Island in an almost spiritual way.