“Dordogne” : A delightful summer video game with mesmerizing watercolor art
“Dordogne”, an independent game developed by the Bordeaux studio Un je ne sais quoi, captivates players with its soft and unique artistic direction, featuring fully hand-painted watercolor landscapes.
Pack your bags! In Dordogne, we follow the character of Mimi, a 32-year-old Parisian, who is searching for a memory. The memory of a summer, when she was 12 years old, that she spent at her grandmother Nora’s house. Today, Nora has passed away, leaving behind a box in her house in Dordogne, which could help Mimi piece together her memories.
Visually, Dordogne is stunning… but gentle like a caress. Grandma’s house and the landscapes are vibrant watercolor paintings that you can explore. The game’s art director and watercolor painter, Cédric Babouche, produced nearly 180 paintings for the game. “Almost everything was a first draft,” he explains in an article published on the Steam gaming platform. The result is ethereal, luminous, and incredibly comforting.
Exploration between the present and the past
In this family house, the heroine discovers lost memories through collected objects. “Flashes” then transport her into the past. That summer in Dordogne, where everything changed. The player takes on the role of young Mimi, a city girl convinced that she will be bored all summer at Grandma Nora’s house, but who will learn to appreciate this environment that is perfect for adventure and discovery.
Some exploration phases, prompted by collecting objects, compensate for the linearity of the game. “The places, the objects should have multiple lives,” explains Nora to young Mimi. These objects transport us through different times, each with its own stories. The past is invoked through photos, sounds recorded on cassette tapes, poems written in an old notebook, and resurfacing emotions. Some clues are revealed without being fully explored, like elusive reminiscences.
As Mimi’s investigation progresses, the story takes a darker turn. Family conflicts shed light on the distance that has grown between the little girl and her beloved grandmother. Letters scattered around the house unearth long-standing resentments. They give meaning to the words and emotions that young Mimi picks up (literally) during her adventures, like Little Thumb finding his way back with the help of pebbles.
The narration takes precedence over very light gameplay. The game is mostly divided between cinematic scenes and mini-games. The puzzles are not very challenging, sometimes almost trivial. Making tea, brushing teeth, or cooking: the game fits perfectly into the trend of the “cozy game,” with smooth progress, conducive to contemplation. Dordogne is a love letter to the countryside seen through the eyes of a child, a poetic stroll that warms the heart like a beautiful summer afternoon.
What we liked:
– The breathtaking watercolor landscapes.
– The feeling of being on vacation.
– Endearing characters discovered through collected objects.
– The possibility to play in Occitan!
What we didn’t like:
– Some unanswered questions.
– The relatively short game duration (3 hours).
– Having to wait until next year to visit Dordogne because vacations are already planned.
Dordogne, priced at 14.99 euros, developed by Umanimation and Un je ne sais quoi, published by Focus Entertainment. Available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.