Frank and Drake review – something at work in my soul

Chorus Worldwide is back at it again with semi-surreal indie adventure Frank and Drake following the intertwined lives of two roommates.

Frank and Drake review: a character opening a door in front of a brick wall

Our Verdict

Meet Frank and Drake, two roommates living their lives in the day and night, working on their own problems together despite never meeting. Follow a week in their life by making choices and discovering their pasts through environmental story-telling.

I love gothic literature. Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite books, and while this isn’t a retelling of it, the fact it features “Frankie and Drac” as the main characters very much caught my attention. The two main characters aren’t literal reimaginings of Frankenstein and Dracula, but there are clear similarities.

Anyway, enough of my literature nerd ramblings. Frank and Drake takes place in modern society, but in a world where individuals have mystical powers. It’s a delightful cinematic, almost visual-novel-like adventure where your choices do have lasting consequences – so pick wisely.

The teams behind Frank and Drake are Appnormals and Chorus Worldwide – known for Coffee Talk and A Space for the Unbound. This should tell you all you need to know about the quality of the game. First and foremost, the rotoscoped art style is fantastic to look at, and really suits the mysterious tone of the game as you play sections between the two characters. Clearly a lot of love has gone into the art style, story, characters’ personalities, and into making the gameplay interesting and different from the norm.

To begin with, you control Frank, a superintendent of an apartment block in a worse-for-wear neighborhood. Here, you help look after tenants, including your surprise new roommate Drake. Only, you never see him, because he’s nocturnal. Your first task is to prepare his room by hiding the window to keep him comfortable – then it’s on with your laundry list of other tasks.

Frank and Drake review: an open book with a post-it note in it

The game is split into two sections – during the day you follow Frank’s errands, and at night you’re Drake. Each section has its own distinct mood, music, and mechanics like Drake finding mysterious symbols, and Frank fixing up the block. Though Frank and Drake never meet, they leave each other cute post-it notes on the fridge which builds a bond between them.

They’re very different people, but I find myself liking both boys equally and want to help them out. Frank is more stoic and working to find out about his past, whereas Drake is exuberant in the way he speaks and is haunted by spirits. I’ll leave you to uncover the finer details, but rest assured there’s plenty of supernatural story to be told here.

Frank and Drake review: a bee in amber and some writing on a black screen

Both these characters’ lives have choices of what to focus on at regular intervals, leading to different narratives and outcomes – but keep in mind that each of their actions can affect the other one. You live and die by their journals, which hold daily reflections and a handy weekly schedule showing which paths you’ve taken – perfect for planning a replay of the game where you can investigate the other options.

The branching choices lead to different puzzles and discoveries to do with Frank and Drake’s lives and some mysterious goings-on with other residents in the building. These puzzles are inventive and require logic to solve, and include things like fixing an old film projector or changing an elderly neighbor’s oxygen tanks.

Some of these puzzles do post a fiddly experience, so I find that using the fully integrated touch controls to be a better solution – Joy-Cons are not made for precise movements. Other than that, the game works perfectly well as a laid-back Switch title.

Frank and Drake review: a black pig in front of a pink shed

Frank and Drake is definitely a good choice for anyone who’s a fan of environmental story-telling, inventive narratives, and unraveling mysteries of the supernatural persuasion. I’m definitely going to be heading back in for at least one more playthrough to dig up as much of the two guys’ pasts as I can… and then reread Frankenstein and Dracula for the heck of it.

We’ve dipped our toes into plenty of new games recently – check out our Pikmin 4 review and thoughts on the latest A Little to the Left DLC.