Drawn 3: Trail of Shadows Review

By Nicholas Krawchuk

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If an artist is creative and skilled in painting a picture, it can inspire even more creative thoughts: say you are looking at a painting of a boy and behind the painting is an entire world, an entire story. Drawn 3 is not just a game, but a painting. But instead of seeing one static image, you travel inside the painting, visiting the entire world behind the image and the taking part in the story that happens around it. You will have to solve puzzles, draw objects, paint pictures within pictures, and save the world from being painted into shadows by a dark wizard. You will travel from a magical garden to a deep cavern in the beautiful hand-drawn world. Drawn 3 is gorgeous and challenging with an intriguing plot and mind bending puzzles. The life and vibrant colour scheme is sure to impress, especially if you’re getting tired of games where the entire world is tinted brown.

Sit Down and I’ll Tell You a Story…

The framing device is that an old man is telling a story that may or may not be fictional. It reminds me a bit of The Princess Bride, which is never a bad thing. The story he is telling is of a young boy who had a passion for painting. He became so skilled at it that he was able to step through the paintings into the worlds he created. One day, he paints a door behind from which came a dark wizard who wants to paint the world into darkness. He takes the boy into one of his paintings where he will be able to make the paint required to darken the world. After all of this happens, you come along to save the boy and the world from the dark wizard. It is not made clear exactly who you are but you are the hero of the story. It’s an original story and it is what some would refer to as ‘cute’. It provides a lot of background on the beautiful worlds you travel through giving you a problem and the means of solving it.

Welcome Home

It had been a while since I’ve played a point and click game but the game didn’t hold that against me; as soon as I started I felt welcomed by the game. The relaxing atmosphere and peaceful puzzle solving of Drawn 3 is a welcome break from the mainstream market overflowing with violent military shooters. There are multiple kinds of puzzles to be solved, from the lovingly jabbed “pixel hunt” puzzles to more timing based mini-games. Unlike many point and click games however, the puzzles are not so difficult that you have to resort to clicking random items until the puzzle is solved: they are easy enough for most players, both casual and experienced gamers, to solve without having to look at a hint but difficult enough that the puzzles don’t all feel trivial. To me, that is the beauty of this kind of game. It takes intellect and problem-solving skills to progress in Drawn 3, not just prowess with a mouse and keyboard. That means everyone is put on a level playing field which makes this game a perfect opportunity to get that significant other to give gaming a try.

The mini-games range from shooting arrows at birds to colouring in a drawing on a canvas. The difficulty level definitely jumps around a bit but it is never big enough of a leap to make progression too easy or too hard. When you start a new game, you are given a choice of difficulty level. There are only two, casual and experienced. I first played through the game on casual and had no trouble with the mini-games. Some took a few tries to figure out but I completed them eventually. When I tried again on experienced, it took a while to notice a change. The puzzles were all exactly the same, nothing was different whatsoever. It took a while into the second act to notice that some of the mini-games were slightly more difficult. For example, one requires you to move a light between blocks and eventually to three eyes which close when hit by light. On experienced, if you take too long the eyes will open again.

One issue about the game is that when you want to navigate back one screen, it can be cumbersome to find a spot that you are allowed to click. You are supposed to click near the bottom of the screen but the inventory bar covers most of it, leaving a tiny section left to click. I did encounter one bug and though it would seem minor, the impact of it was game breaking. At one point I needed to find an item to progress but I couldn’t find it. I finally gave in and looked at a hint and it told me where to go. Huh, I thought. I was pretty sure I’d looked there. Well, I got there and it still wasn’t there. So I looked up a game guide and it told me the item should have been there too. I tried everything and no matter what I tried the item would not show up. In the end, I had to delete my save and start over which was pretty frustrating.

Hand-crafted Beauty

There is no doubt about it, everything about this game is gorgeous. Every single screen in the game has a beautiful hand-crafted look and feel to it which is perfect since the entire world is supposed to have been painted by the boy. When the wizard tears apart pieces of the canvas, it leaves behind a void in the middle of the painting which leads to some great visual effects. The artists definitely did a good job of making sure the items you have to find blend in well with the backgrounds which annoyed me while I was scavenging every screen for some idea of what to do only to find out “oh, it’s that small rock which I thought was part of the background”. The worlds created are vibrant and full of life and when you complete goals, the paintings often will come to life. At one point you find a canvas in front of a corn field. Up close an outline of this scene is visible but with a path through the cornfield. When it is coloured in, a breeze creates the path through the cornfield with some ambiance added for emphasis. The music is equally gorgeous and I find parts of it playing on repeat in my head for some time now.  All of the wonderfully unique and atmospheric elements Drawn 3 brings completes the feel of the game.

Is It Worth Your Money?

For $10 dollars, the standard edition of Drawn 3 is a great purchase for fans of the point and click genre. It’s full of puzzles to satisfy and beautifully drawn portraits to ogle at. It is definitely a short game; a single play through takes from two to four hours but those hours are full of content. One problem I have is not with the game itself but the difference between the collector’s edition and the standard edition. The collector’s edition boasts a single extra act, the game’s soundtrack and artwork. The problem is that it costs $20. Not only is that extra $10 a very low price to value ratio, but the extra act feels like it was cut out of the original game in order to have something to add to the collector’s edition. It fits perfectly with the story and it wasn’t until after some research that I noticed it is not included with the standard edition. My personal problem with the collector’s edition aside, the standard edition is well worth your money and is available.

Drawn 3: Trail of Shadows – Technical Summary

  • Time Played – 6 hours
  • Widescreen Support – No
  • 5.1 Audio Support – No
  • Bugs – Item required for progression never appeared
  • Control Scheme – Point and click
  • Demo – Yes
  • Availability (Windows and Mac) – Big Fish Games
  • DRM- There is a DrawnIIIDRM.exe file in the review copy we were given by Big Fish Games.  This file is the exact same file size as the regular DrawnIII.exe.  We are waiting on a reply from Big Fish about exactly what type of DRM they use, but it appears to be very minimal and unintrusive.

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2 thoughts on “Drawn 3: Trail of Shadows Review

  1. Pingback: Drawn 3: Trail of Shadows Review | truepcgaming | Solve Math & Science Problems - Solveable.com

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