I will never stop being impressed by the art style of indie title Dordogne. It's a watercolor paradise, which, if you've ever been to the south of France, does well to capture the colors and hues that you find there on a summer's day. When the rain clears later, the sun dapples through shuttered windows and pierces through the thin edges of leaves with that kind of green you only get in nature. It's all so rich and sumptuous that it almost feels like the world is about to bleed off the edge of the pages in front of you, all beautifully hand-drawn lines and swashes of color bringing the adventure to life.
The world contrasts beautifully against the more deliberate, harder strokes used to bring the characters like Mim to life. They pop against the hand-painted backdrops, adding an extra dimension of almost cartoonish-ness to the presentation. There's certainly some analogy to be made about the looser textures of the little Dordogne house and its surroundings being blurred by memories here, as the game's narrative sees you dipping back into childhood memories Mimi resurfaces as she walks around her grandmother's empty house.
In this opening hour, the initial lure is discovering a memory box Nora (the grandmother) has assembled for her. But to get it, she has to return to the Dordogne house, which is seemingly a forbidden place as much as Mimi's father is concerned, and I'm desperate to know why. So too is Mimi, though, so her return to this place where she spent full summers in her childhood is triggering all kinds of memories.
So, as you move through the sun-dappled space, Mimi finds things that make her recall specific moments from her childhood, meaning that the first hour is surprisingly emotional. Not only are we dealing with the death of a grandparent and lingering parental drama, but also the feelings a young girl has about being ripped away from her friends for an entire summer.
What's especially interesting about Dordogne is that it's wonderfully tactile. As Mimi's childhood emotions manifest – usually several at once – they flash up on the screen as interactable objects. For example, at one point Nora has prepared breakfast, and young Mimi is moaning about not being able to have her usual cereal. The words "alone", "deep", and "fear" appear over the breakfast options, and to continue the dialogue you have to choose where to take the conversation next by opting for specific breakfast items. Those words then become physical stickers you can use to customize the binder Mimi's been given to document her summer with Grandma. It's a really interesting way to tackle a young girl dealing with these big emotions, particularly in contrast to Mimi's own adult emotions elsewhere in the game.
That tactility is also mirrored by the gameplay. Dordogne is essentially a point-and-click adventure, but with the various objects you find requiring manipulation in some way to solve the puzzle they present. That might be taking apart a mailbox to find the house key that's been dropped inside, or opening up a matchbox to strike and light the match to bring light to the dark house. That interactivity reminds me more of ustwo's Assemble with Care in that way than your traditional point-and-click. There are no mysterious combinations to figure out, no obscure answer to a puzzle, just everyday objects and the satisfaction of twisting a key here or fixing a latch there.
The fact that the gameplay and narrative is also so interconnected is intriguing too – especially as the word choices you make mean that you've left something unspoken. Your sticker book will show a gap where those connections could have sat, which may well mean that there's plenty of replayability here too.
Which, when Dordogne looks as fantastic as it does, I don't think anyone is going to mind diving back in to see what else it has to offer. Even after an hour, Un Je Ne Sais Quoi's creation has me hooked, both narratively and visually, and I'm somehow even more excited for Dordogne than I was before.
Dordogne doesn't yet have a release date, but when it launches it'll be available on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. Keep track of all of the exciting upcoming releases on the horizon with our roundup of upcoming indie games.