Dordogne review Mimi looking around

Dordogne review – watered down watercolours

Ah, la Dordogne, the Tuscany of France. A magnificent rural area around the river which has fascinated everyone around the world with its old villages, castles and quiet simple style of life. This is where our story takes place; one of broken families, of reconnecting with your younger self and appreciating the simple things in life. This and more in our Dordogne review.

In Dordogne, we play as Mimi, a young girl who is back visiting her grandma’s place, after her passing. We read messages from her father who doesn’t want that, but Mimi perseveres. She is particularly curious to discover what happened the last summer she was there. A vacation that, for some reason, she has no memories of. What tragically went wrong? What secrets is grandma still hiding in the box she’s left for us to find?

Dordogne is a simple adventure game, a so-called “wholesome” title. We get to explore the house and its surroundings both as adults and young Mimi. In our exploration, we get to interact with the environment to do some tasks, such as brewing tea or going shopping in the market. Along the way, players also get to solve some simple puzzles, like finding the secret lair of a boy by following clues. But there’s nothing too complicated on offer here.

While exploring, Mimi also gets to use various tools, such as her Polaroid camera and an audio recorder. This is completely optional, but you can pause during certain parts of the game and record memories. Either take a picture or record the quiet sounds of the outdoors or the bustling of the town. It would have been interesting to see those elements used in puzzles, but Dordogne just leaves this part completely up to the player as optional tasks.

At the end of each day, Mimi records her thoughts about the day in her diary. This is where we get limited uses of the photographs and recordings. We can also add stickers and a little poem that is almost haiku-like – a nice touch. Stickers can be found along the houses and outdoors, and that also goes for words. See, words are scattered around the house and can be used in the poem too.

These same words can sometimes also be used for the dialogue sections of the game, which are mostly between the grandma and a boy. They don’t really seem to change the story much in the end, but it is a nice touch to be able to express more feelings and sensations in a game that leans on narrative like this.

Naturally, if you look at Dordogne in motion, you’ll realize the main selling point is the art. A wonderful watercoloured world that perfectly recreates both the outdoors and the more rural living of the town. The characters are, instead, done in a more 80s anime style, almost bringing us all the way back to the days of Doraemon.

While the gameplay keeps things simple and doesn’t really try anything new, not that it had to, what left me unsatisfied at the end was the story. All the mysteries I mentioned at the beginning of the review, about the grandma and her relationship with Mimi’s dad, do not really get a satisfying conclusion. There’s also something much darker going on, which can be glimpsed by some of the letters that can be – optionally – found around the house. I’m not sure if the player is supposed to find all letters and tapes to fully grasp the story because we haven’t had time to 100% the game, but that would be a poor design choice if this is the case.

The main narrative, along with the reason why Mimi has lost her memories of the summer, does not really leave the player with a satisfying conclusion. In fact, after she remembers a “tragic event”, Dordogne almost seems in a hurry to finish things. The story is quickly wrapped up in a matter of minutes and it all ends on a classic “enjoy life one step at a time” message. Cute and upbeat, but it’s not novel.

Still, in the end, you will enjoy your time in Dordogne. If you’re looking for a pleasant experience in a small package, along with a gorgeous-looking game, then you will be in for a treat. But, instead, if you are after a satisfying story, then probably you will have to be a little patient with this. Ah mon amì, c’est la vie.

Our Dordogne review was made possible with a key provided by Focus Entertainment. Dordogne is available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Dordogne: Dordogne is a gorgeous looking little adventure which stumbles on the narrative front, but makes it up with pleasant simple gameplay. Damiano Gerli

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Damiano Gerli

Damiano Gerli was born with a faithful Commodore 64 by his side. It taught him how to program basic adventure games and introduced him to new genres. Then, he fell in love with Sega -- while the Master System wasn't as powerful as the Genesis, it was where he played Sonic and Outrun. Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple. Damiano is a gaming industry professional and historian, loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs. Basically, Damiano is been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on X at @damgentemp.