Summary: 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.
Welcome to Elk is a game full of joy, and also harsh realities. The devs took the horrors and high points of life and wrapped them all in a cute package to great affect. This walking sim combined mini-games, mystery, and live action documentaries to share true stories about some folks in Iceland.
The art and animation in Elk grabs your attention first. The player is guided easily through points of interest though contrasts inline work and full color renderings of objects. Character sprites all have a very bouncy walk cycles that is just fun to watch. There are some unsettling scenes in the game that this friendly design style shaves the edge off of nicely.
Many gameplay styles are represented in Welcome to Elk. It is primarily a walking simulator, and requires you to navigate around a small map to help local residents with daily live. Interspersed with those tasks, there are a few different mini-games. Karaoke, cards, and pouring the perfect beer are just some of the activities captured in mini-games. These all functioned seamlessly without requiring a ton of explanation or practice to succeed. I have to commend the dev team on creating so many mini-games that all feel perfectly tailored to the world.
The final major component of this game is the story, and it’s such a powerful one. Everyone has a story to tell on the island, and a lot of those stories are based on real life struggles. Some of the real life people even appear in game as NPCs, and in life action interview clips.
The main character, Frigg, comes to know and love the inhabitants of Elk through their stories. The game shares an important message about remembering to focus on the happy parts of life, even when we have sad stories to share. I found that really beautiful and, I really enjoyed my experience of the game. I think the creator’s love of careful story telling is a large reason why!