The Drifter Preview: Dead Alive

by David Sanchez December 31, 2019 @ 7:35 am

This preview is based on the limited time Steam demo of The Drifter, which is no longer available to download.

You hop a train to make your way back home for your mother’s funeral. Inside the box car is another man. Much like you, this man seems to move around a lot with no single place stay to stay at any given time. You wake him up, and he screams at you. The train stops, and some mysterious dudes in masks flash their lights at you. You manage to hide, but you see as the other guy in the box car is gunned down.

You barely manage to escape… but you just witnessed a murder.

That’s all in the first five minutes of The Drifter, an upcoming point-and-click adventure game from Powerhoof. The developer, who is also currently working on the intense 2D action game Acid Knife, has put a similar release date label on The Drifter: “when it’s ready.” I’m starting to see a pattern here. But you know what? If the studio needs time to work on what so far are very promising games in different genres, then so be it! I know I’ll be happy to wait… even though I want to play The Drifter, like, right now.

Classic Style Adventure Game

In The Drifter, you play as Mick Carter. While it’s fairly obvious that this dude isn’t partying it up in a penthouse suite, he’s a working man who has the bare necessities. After jumping off the train and getting away from the band of mystery men, he gets in touch with his sister. Before he can figure out where she lives — her family moved — Mick’s phone dies.

This sets off a chain of very-adventure-game elements that include talking to homeless characters near a port, borrowing a knife from a journalist who’s hanging around the area to pry into these folks’ lives, and solving minor puzzles. The Drifter is very much a 2D adventure game in the classic style. In the Steam demo, I collected different items to jump start a car and get s tiny charge going on Mick’s phone battery. If you’ve played your share of adventure games, you’ll know what to expect.

Like any adventure game worth playing, the real intrigue is in the story and characters of The Drifter. The journalist, who seems to be in way over her head and is a bit too ambitious, is an especially high point. During her interactions with Mick, I figured there was more to her story — a reason why she’s so difficult and annoying and cocky — and while that story wasn’t revealed in the demo, I truly hope the final game fleshes out the character’s background.

You’re Dead

The first chapter, presented in the demo, immediately turns the surrealism switch and gives you the game’s big twist. The bad guys who shot the homeless man in the beginning take Mick’s things and kidnap the journalist. Mick, who’s seeing everything unfold from behind a crate, is spotted and knocked out. He’s then tied up, a bag is placed over his head, and he’s tossed into the ocean.

Mick drowns, and the screen fades to black.

That’s when things get truly weird, as he comes back to life, and the scene with him tied up underwater repeats itself. Mick gets a second chance. After he unties himself and surfaces from the depths of the ocean, he says, “They killed me… but I am no longer dead.”

Sadly, that’s where the demo ended. I’m really curious to see where this story will go. Mick’s a likable character who’s rough around the edges and realistic, so I’m really stoked to see what his ultimate fate will be. Not to mention the fact that the demo sparked a bunch of questions. Who are the mysterious killers? Are they targeting only the homeless? What do they want with the journalist?

All of these questions will likely be answered when The Drifter launches, whenever that may be (but hopefully soon).

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