INTRO – A Dystopian Visual Experience
Dry Drowning is a M-Rated psychological investigative Visual Novel set in a futuristic, dystopian city. With that much/little knowledge going into this game, I knew I was gonna be in for one hell of an experience.
I tried getting into Visual Novels before with the also-M-rated Xblaze series – which is a visual novel series of games that are prequels to the Blazblue series of Fighting games – and got disinterested real quick. Not helping their case was that playing those games and reading the books was effectively mandatory to understanding a complicated and convoluted plot that puts Metal Gear and its’ series-spanning story to shame!
However, As this is a standalone game with elements of Greek Mythology (in regards to the killings anyway), I’m willing to go into this game with a relatively open mind. Let’s do this!
STORY – A Dystopian Murder Mystery
The Story goes as follows:
“Dry Drowning is a psychological investigative visual novel set in a futuristic dystopian city (Nove Polemos). Follow the story of Mordred Foley, unscrupulous private detective haunted by his dark past, and look into a series of macabre serial killings inspired by Greek mythology.”- Nintendo Eshop description.
There are lots of murders to solves, tons of dialogue, and 4 different endings. (3 of them are serious and depressing to a degree, while one of them is a anime-style joke ending) The anime ending joke got a good laugh out of me. And this image from Ending A, definitely got me emotional. (after an average-length 11-hour playthrough, of course) I’m not gonna much else beyond the below image.
With that said, let’s move on to the gameplay, and see what this game is about.
GAMEPLAY – A Visual Gaming Experience
One thing I want to get out of the way right now is that this game is freaking gorgeous!
The dystopian city as depicted in the intro looks beautiful at night. The grey-painted characters contrast the color of the city and perfectly depicts a doom-and-gloom style murder paradise.
Making small decisions in various dialogue options and critical key moments will help flesh out the eventual fate of the city, its’ citizens, and Mordred and Hera. The mystery will get deeper and more complex as the game goes on, kinda like Persona 4, only without the fully-bright city and bubbly-positive music of that game to help offset the darker moments.
The game’s cyberpunk-like nature in how citizens and their rights are treated by police and corrupt officials are a great reminder and parallel to the divisive politics in American society today.
The voice acting in the intro was so good that I was expecting a fully-voiced game. . . here’s where the issues start piling up. 🙁
For one, there’s no (official) voice acting past the intro sequence. It sucks! Really. it does. I suppose I’ll have to wait for a unofficial fan-dub of the game t hear personality. Another complaint I have with the game is how small and unreadable the text is, especially with the wavy effect applied to certain pieces of text/dialogue for the sake of emotional emphasis. There’s also NO pause button, and a brief option to permanently enable/disable subtitles with the Y button (when playing on the Switch) when the game’s production ad development companies flash by on-screen.
There’s admittedly a good message in the game found at the very start: That every happy ending is a lie. (pictured below) As for puzzles. . . they’re standard.
FINAL THOUGHTS – A Point-and-click Good Time
Overall, the game is great. Despite my numerous issues with the game’s text and UI, the rest of the game more than makes up for it. It has an engaging story, very complex characters, multiple heartwrenching endings, and a bleak – but in a good way – setting.
I recommend you buy this game!