Dordogne Review – A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Dordogne Review

Video games can tell stories in a manner that is unique to the medium. While certain experiences offer an archetypal Hollywood structure, others opt for a more nuanced approach that drip-feeds information. Dordogne sits firmly in the latter and tells a cozy story about family, childhood, and lost memories, but is this nostalgic trip to the south of France worth taking?

You take on the role of Mimi, a young woman who spent a portion of her childhood with her grandmother in Dordogne. Although your memories of the time are faint, you decide to visit the house to collect items and learn about your recently deceased ancestor. As you rummage through each area, recollections of the past begin to form, teleporting you to a different time. The restrictive narrative heightens the impact of revelations as you learn the origins of suppressed memories and gain knowledge about your family with Mimi. The methodical pace lures you in. At first, mundanity resides but this slowly develops to offer a thoughtful narrative that captures a snippet of life.

Tinkering with Life

Each location houses items to discover which gives you more information about the tale. Letters allow you to see characters from a different perspective and help to create deeper personalities. Particular items require tactile interaction which adds small gameplay sections to the adventure. Light puzzles link key items to memories and also tie the narrative and gameplay nicely. Although the tasks vary throughout, they are relatively straightforward and can get quite fiddly. Most segments involve directional inputs and while this may work well with a mouse or touch screen, it can get a little awkward with a traditional controller. Despite that, the menial errands help to flesh out the character. The little jobs you perform are ones that many kids do during the holidays and due to this, you form a connection with the protagonist.

As you wander from room to room, you’ll eventually find an item that will reawaken a memory and take you from present to past. Here you’ll begin to get a new insight into the situation and your time in Dordogne. Mimi matures as time passes by and begins to appreciate her surroundings. You document your stay in a binder where you are given the freedom to place stickers, photos, and more about that chapter of your life. This gives you more incentive to search your environment and collect all the items hidden within. However, even if you have everything in your possession, you can only include a limited number, which means you have to be selective about which memories to add. 

A Wonderful Watercolor World

The world itself is stunning. Each area is a beautiful watercolor landscape that could easily adorn the walls of a museum. Due to the awe-inspiring locales, this urges exploration as you want to discover what lies in every corner, however, due to the small environments, simple layouts, and several invisible walls, there isn’t the opportunity to do so. The subtle score accompanies the visuals beautifully. In order to not overwhelm, Un Je Ne Sais Quoi uses light synths that add an element of serenity. With natural diegetic sounds that seep in to anchor the memories in reality, the audio and visuals merge to create an unforgettable triumph in design.

Mimi’s meandering pace grows tiresome. She plods throughout which makes traversal a chore. While this is a game to savor rather than rush, the inclusion of a run button would have improved the experience, easing frustrations. Due to the point-and-click style of gameplay, interaction with objects is straightforward and allows you to easily navigate to items of interest quickly and efficiently.

Dordogne is a gentle and comfortable adventure that manages to capture an authentic quality. The intriguing narrative threads are thoughtfully implemented to allow you to tie strands together. Gameplay aspects are rudimentary and at times feel unnecessary, however, they do help make the jaw-dropping environments feel alive. While at times you may wish that Mimi could run, that thought seems to dissipate as you take in the beautiful surroundings. Although this is not for everyone, those who enjoy narrative-driven games will fall in love with Dordogne.

*** PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Incredible Art Direction
  • A Lovely Gentle Story
  • Wonderful Sound Design

The Bad

  • Fiddly Controls
  • Slow Movement
  • Some Tasks Feel Needless