Tristan Kalogeropoulos
10 Oct, 2007

Drawn to Life Review

DS Review | Life is pretty good.
The creation and destruction of worlds is definitely not an untouched theme in games. Constantly protecting a universe, or taking apart another is the video game hero’s eternal vocation. And then there are games in which you play the detached deity, either malevolently warding over the lands you’ve created, or slowly tearing them to pieces in order to wreak havoc upon the inhabitants. It’s not all that often that you’re properly acknowledged by the artificial lifeforms held within as an outside influence on, or indeed the creator of, these game worlds. As equally as uncommon is a Nintendo DS game that properly utilizes the unique aspects of the handheld’s design, creating a game that works better on the double screened platform than it would on any others. Drawn to Life is a game that pulls together both these rarities into a tight little platforming package.

Drawn to Life takes place within a book that is paradoxically within its world, a world that is brought to life, or rather ‘drawn to life’, by what its inhabitants call the creator. These small creatures are known as the Raposa. For years they understood the power of the tome that held the creator’s plans for their universe and kept it closed away within their village. However such power is irresistible to some, and a Raposa named Wilfre took it upon himself to begin to draw his own world into The Book of Life. Out sprang inky monsters which he was able to control and slowly the world was covered in a black mess as Wilfre embarked upon his quest for power.

From the very moment that you enter the game’s world as the creator you’re asked by Drawn to Life to flex your artistic muscle. After drawing the world, the forests, the mountains etc. of the universe, as if involved in some postmodern heathen Genesis, you're tasked by the Raposa with creating a hero to save them from the dastardly Wilfre and the shadows that have engulfed their world. And so begins your quest.

As the creator of this pristine world how could you just stand idly by and watch its inky destruction?

As the creator of this pristine world how could you just stand idly by and watch its inky destruction?
Reviews often ramble on about user customizable characters, but here we have almost unlimited potential – barring a few understandable guidelines, such as specific areas to draw arms, legs, torso's etc. – to invent your avatar. There are a few preset character options available to choose from, but where would the fun in that be? What’s more interesting is sketching your own hero. What you create is essentially superficial ‘skin’ and has little impact on how the game is actually played, but Drawn to Life is not the first title to show that things that you do within a game do not have to be results based in order for them to be fun.

The gameplay in Drawn to Life is broken up into two sections. There’s a classic platforming section and a portion where you cavort with the Raposa in their village. The village is where much of the story exposition takes place. Unfortunately there are far too many quests that involve someone telling you to go and talk to someone else. However the moments when you’re asked to put stylus to screen and bring part of the town to life hold the bulk of the enjoyment to be had in this area besides the whimsical story.

Much of Drawn to Life’s platforming gameplay ends up being pretty by ‘by the books. ’There’s gaps to vault over, enemies on which to bounce or shoot, and coins to collect, all of which are controlled using the D-pad and buttons. This is all well implemented, especially the use of the shoulder buttons to view what’s coming up along the horizontal plane, but nothing really jumps out as overly innovative in the mechanics of play. However what it lacks in a novel take on getting through a level it more than makes up for with bucket load of charm. Commanding an avatar which you’ve created from scratch is incredibly fun, and to see your below par drawing taking on the inky monsters created from Wilfre’s twisted drawings makes the relatively derivative gameplay seem a little fresher than it actually is.

As you make it through the levels you come across little signs that when tapped on will pop open a screen beckoning you to create a specific part of the level. Clouds, cogs, weapons and transportation are just a few of the things you are tasked with bringing into the universe. These designs are then inserted into the level and aid you in traversing the highs and lows of its platform riddled world. Additionally the stylus, or your grubby fingertips, are used to clear away some of the blackened sticky ink left behind by Wilfre’s clumsy drawings, portions left spilled throughout levels.

Your scribblings might not always look the best, but at least they're yours.

Your scribblings might not always look the best, but at least they're yours.
Drawn to Life holds four lots of environments which include areas such as snow, beach and forest themes along with one in which you’re a giant version of your hero, with the tiny village beneath your feet. Each level also offers up a specific weapon to be used – and of course this is something you’ll have to sketch. To exit each world there are fragments of the Book of Life which must be collected (four within each) before a door can be unlocked to return to the Raposa’s village. Additionally there are villagers scattered throughout each of the areas whom you must rescue and return to their home. There’s enough variety within what’s on offer to keep it all interesting. And if the main quest isn’t enough for you, each level contains plenty of music, art and other unlockables scattered throughout for the obsessive compulsive's to collect.

Along with the fact that you’ll have to create sections of the world, Drawn to Life’s other strong point is its story and its often tongue-in-cheek self aware nature. At one point one of the Raposa ponders the existential query, 'what if creator had us living in a white box with two windows and a magic wand that he controlled us with?’ His companion replies that this is a ridiculous notion. The concept that the game questions its own existence is a great one indeed. It's not overtly pretentious about its musings either, with the bulk of the narrative focusing instead on the lives of the Raposa and simply rescuing the world from evil.

Drawn to Life is a title that should provide quite a number of delightful hours to kids and adults alike. Its platforming is laid back, and although not overly innovative, when you add in the charming fact that that you can illustrate sections of its world into being, the game which would probably not stand out otherwise is taken to a whole new level and ends up evolving into a fun little experience.
The Score
Drawn to Life offers up some solid, yet safe, platforming. Where it really shines is in the concept behind its world and the ability to draw sections it. There are few games that let you get creative, but this is definately one of them.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Drawn to Life Content

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05 Nov, 2007 We speak to Pixel Art Enthusiast Rob Sharp.
6 years ago
Good Review, actually wanting to see how this game plays.
6 years ago
It deserved a 8.5
6 years ago
El Taco wrote
It deserved a 8.5
Thanks for that El Tacizzle. Maybe next time you wanna give us reasons as to why you personally believe a game should have received a different arbitrary number.
6 years ago
Its unique, but the gameplay feels OK not too pleasant.
6 years ago
its going to have a gimmick value to the fact that you can design your hero, once that wears off and youre finished giggling then it might not turn out to be such a good game.
6 years ago
Good review, got to agree with the score. Its a fairly decent game, creating the characters is fun and the graphics are nice and vibrant but the only problem is after a while the gameplay gets a bit repetitive. Also I find the story a bit dull. I would say this a good game for younger audiences but it could also be good fun for older audiences for a while also.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  20/09/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Year Made:

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