Dordogne review

Dordogne is the debut game from Umanimation, which has a beautiful watercolor arts tyle. It’s a game about a Kayak Trip in Dordogne, in the south of France. It’s available on a range of platforms, including Xbox game Pass, so if you have that service then I’d recommend giving it a try.

The game focuses on Mimi and her grandmother Nora. When Mimi is in her early 30s, Nora passes away and leaves a letter to Mimi asking her to visit her old house in Dordogne. Mimi’s father Fabrice had been arguing with Nora for a long time, and she didn’t know why, but it can be traced all the way back to their family visiting Noras house. Mimi has fond memories of family holidays back then, but suffers from some kind of memory block.

The game has a mixture of visual styles, with the hand-painted backgrounds and blend of 2D and 3D environments. You can free roam around areas. Mimi can interact with key objects, which transport Mimi back to memories of her and her grandmother during those summer days with the family. The game switches up the timelines too, being able to control Mimi as a child and then briefly as an adult.

As a child version of Mimi there’s a lot more to do. You can explore the house, learn about Nora and her late husband Edouard, plus interesting items are introduced as you play, plus you can collect items for a scrapbook to store memories in. Each page has a poem, photograph, sound recording and a sticker. Mimi can collect these throughout her adventures with her grandmother. These include planting herbs, or heading off down the Dordogne river.

The interesting game mechanic is the scrapbook. As you go about your day you can collet various items, multiple of each type, however, you can only place one item per type in the scrapbook. This makes it a very personal book, tailored to each player. It also forges Mimi’s memories, meaning you have to let certain things go. The scrapbook cannot hold everything, and therefore Mimi can’t remember everything also. The choices in Dordogne are meaningful and have an impact.

Nora provides context to help cope with the small loses. Nora lost her husband, and she allows Mimi to have some of his possessions to help bring them back to life. Nora’s lesson her is that everything has many lives; even when they slip away from you. Dordogne is touching and poignant, and a great example of how to tell a story well. While the story is great, the gameplay mechanics are less so. There is a lot of holding down buttons to complete actions, or mimicing real life actions with the controller. This is something that Nintendo has successfully introduced to players, although here it feels a little out of place and repetitive.

Moving around the world as Mimi can feel a little off too. Mimi walks very slowly. There are invisible walls that make walking around more frustrating than it should be. It’s not terrible, but it could certainly feel better than it does.

Overall, Dordogne is a lovely story, albeit held back by frustrating gameplay mechanics. It’s a beautiful looking game, with touching elements, with a story that will live long in the memory. It’s the perfect game pass game, and good for a palette cleanser inbetween big games.