Welcome to Elk is a tricky game to review. Not because it’s overly complex and not because it’s a meaty game either – in fact, it’s quite simple, whilst the three-hour runtime is pretty short. Instead, it’s because I don’t want to spoil all of the special little things about the game. This is a game where the storytelling is important, where it’ll tug at your emotions with all of its little narrative threads, and where the mini-games offer neat little side tasks that help strengthen those narrative elements.

With that in mind, I’m going to try and keep things pretty spoiler-free here and not divulge too much detail about what makes Welcome to Elk work. Just know that if you’re a fan of quality and emotional storytelling in a game, you should just stop reading this review now and buy it… you won’t regret it.

Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:

Welcome to Elk puts players in the shoes of Frigg, a young woman who leaves the busy-life of the city behind in order to learn the art of carpentry under the tutelage of an old-family friend. This means moving to the island of Elk, a place full of eccentricities – both with its inhabitants and the landscape around you. Whilst you take on the role of a carpenter on the island, you’ll soon find that you can offer so much more to the folk you meet, with simple everyday tasks (and some unpredictable ones) helping them out and revealing more of their story to Frigg.

Some of these stories are funny, some of them are tragic, some are rewarding, whilst some are outright weird. Whilst you’ll never quite know what the next inhabitant of the island will tell you next (one that stood out for me was the fella who was convinced everyone on the island was dead), there is one consistency to be found between them all: quality.

I loved meeting each inhabitant of the island, hearing what they had to say, and then helping them out by completing a small mini-game, with the gameplay loop feeling both rewarding and refreshing as you progress through each day on the island. There’s an air of simplicity to the gameplay and the mini-games will rarely challenge you (even if some are creative), but it doesn’t matter because the reward of the storytelling just makes it all feel worthwhile. It’s hard to detail its impact too much without going into spoiler territory, but believe me, you’ll find it hard not to be engrossed by the tales of Welcome to Elk.

“I loved meeting each inhabitant of the island, hearing what they had to say, and then helping them out by completing a small mini-game, with the gameplay loop feeling both rewarding and refreshing as you progress through each day on the island.”

Want to know what makes them feel really special? The fact that they’re all based on true experiences of real-life folk. After helping someone out, Frigg will find bottles that reveal the true inspiration behind the inhabitants of Elk, with the stories told through live-action sequences. It’s a change of tone to the vibrant visuals seen in the gameplay, but the mixture of mediums works and helps strengthen each tale’s impact.

I think the thing I loved the most about Welcome to Elk was the way that it kept surprising me. I’ll be honest, on first glance I expected some cheery little tale that’d bring with it a few oddities along the way, but it goes so much deeper than that and isn’t afraid to tackle tough subjects. Some of these subjects were things I hadn’t really thought about before or hadn’t experienced in my own life, but seeing it divulged upon here and in such a unique manner really opened my eyes. Oh, and the way that the mini-games will have you performing a cheery act in one moment and something more unsettling the next? It’s surprisingly powerful stuff.

I went into Welcome to Elk with the expectation of an entirely different experience, but what I encountered instead was something I won’t forget. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t call it a jaw-dropping gameplay experience and I’ve even come across better narratives in games before, but the way it pieces together these little stories that tackle heavy subjects with mini-games felt so impactful. It’s a really special game and one that I’m really glad I got to experience for myself.

Welcome to Elk Review

Welcome to Elk blends together emotional storytelling, quirky mini-games, and little oddities into one brilliant and unique experience. I went in blind, not knowing what to expect from this slightly weird looking game, but it truly touched me with its mixture of emotional and comical subject matters. Seeing how the tales were inspired by real-life stories was just the cherry on top (even if some are a little tough to hear) and helped strengthen Welcome to Elk’s status as one of the most memorable forms of interactive storytelling that I’ve ever experienced.

Developer: Triple Topping Games
Publisher: Triple Topping Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Website: https://tripletopping.com/