I regularly wonder if my thoughts on a game are too shallow or surface level, that I don’t really dig into the greater and subtler meanings of a game, and instead choose to jump from one game to another about once a week. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it gets to me when I play a game and feel like I’m just reciting what snippets I heard of it before, as I generally agree with the common conception about it. Anyhow, I played Dropsy, wrote a review of it, and am putting it up during the week of E3 because scheduling demands it.
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Developers: Tendershoot and A Jolly Corpse
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Dropsy is the tale of a soggily misshapen clown going on a quest to bring joy to the denizens of the world as best he can, and… that’s pretty much the entire premise of this point and click adventure game. It is enough to attract attention simply as a joke, and the house to some unusual imagery, but that is thankfully not all there is to this eccentric little title.
It is equal parts disturbed, twisted, and greatly unsettling as it is also heartwarming, loving, and delightful. It is a game where the main character’s first main objective is to visit his mother’s grave, place a dirty sock on top of it, and then hug the tombstone of his maternal figure. It’s a game wherein you can play as his pet dog and urinate on a fire hydrant for your own pleasure, and where you can hug a one armed man after you giving him some change.
There is an undeniable sense of silliness to Dropsy based on looking at its titular main character, but its world is often dreary, mundane, and a little upsetting. A world that is home to much tragedy, and only slightly improved through Dropsy’s commendable actions, creating a both optimistic and melancholy experience. One with more strong emotions per minute than just about any other game I could mention. There is something about hugging one of the colorful minor characters in this game after performing a simple favor for them and being greeted with a smiling image of Dropsy, gleefully letting out a sound of distilled happiness.
At least for a while. While trying its hardest to be a condensed four hour experience, the core gameplay loop of Dropsy is repeated dozens of times, and the sense of satisfaction for helping everyone in this world diminishes as time goes on. While I cannot recall the last time a game made me so overwhelming happy as I was when helping out a young girl and giving her a warm snuggily hug, the favors began to feel more like fetch quests I was pursuing for the sake of completing everything I possibly could in the game. Which proved troublesome for me.
I’ll be honest here, my direction in games is not the best, and I used a walkthrough to get through most of Dropsy, following its directions to ensure I did not miss everything, and there is a lot that can be missed if you aren’t looking in the right spot or get distracted by something or other. This particularly applies for the wide amount of technically optional content in the game, the act of making everyone, but the main story that ties everything together is home to its own share of confusing elements. Made no better by the endearing but mechanically unnecessary inclusion of three animal companions, which can both complicate and extend the duration of some puzzles.
I should explain that Dropsy only presents dialog and the like through a series of symbols, meaning the information it can provide you with is limited. While intriguing and adding to the game’s charm and unique world, this obscures many objectives, and makes progression harder than it ought to be. Though, the concluding segments of this four to five hour game manages to be well worth the trouble. Culminating in a joyful finale that leans on the fantastical in the best way.
All of which is presented to channel the appearance of classic LucasArts games, and it does so very well. The sprite art is well done, distinct, and imaginative throughout, with new animations being a reward in and of themselves while new environments and characters are interesting largely due the craft that went into them. Namely the… unique animations of Dropsy himself. All while the game’s tone and general atmosphere and both dictated and well realized with a wonderful soundtrack that fluctuates between the soft and endearing, and a disturbing sort of dread. I love it!
Dropsy was a game that I loved, but loved less as I thought about it. Though after mulling over it for… weeks (my review schedule is weird at the moment) I still find the very idea of the game too endearing and execution too good to say anything other than if this game were a person, I would offer them a nice snuggily hug for being so gosh darn delightful, dark, and beautifully bizarre.