Dropsy - Review

Author: Andrea Maderna
Date: 2020-07-30 23:13:00
The genre of graphic adventures is one of the most vivid, interesting and all in all experimental in recent years. Of course, it is and remains limited to a niche audience, especially if we do not take into consideration certain strands that some consider to be such evolutions, from Telltale Games-style cinematic adventures to first-person narrative games such as Gone Home or Everybody's Gone to the Rapture but in short, what do we care? The important thing is that beautiful, intriguing, particular and slightly crazy games like Dropsy keep coming out. The rest is background noise.

Developed by the independent team A Jolly Corpse, composed of rolling pins who call themselves retrogaming lovers, Dropsy is a difficult game to tell, even if only because enjoying its thousand surprises without knowing anything is a real pleasure. It tells of a strange clown, frankly disgusting in appearance, and a psyche imbued with dreams, to say the least disturbing, but whose soul is full of love. The opening sequence sees him involved in a tragedy: during a circus show where he works, a fire breaks out, with dead and wounded in abundance, and the next day Dropsy finds himself without a purpose in life. So he decides to devote himself to love, going around the city still wounded by this tragic event and trying to make others happy, perhaps only with a hug, perhaps solving the problems that torment his fellow citizens.

In essence Dropsy is a pure-hearted simpleton, but penalized by strong communication limits, by not quite elegant manners (fart as if there was no tomorrow and putting objects in his underwear!) And a somewhat disturbing appearance. Also for this reason, in addition to the fact that, clearly, many identify it with the recent tragedy, it is a bit difficult to relate to many people. Well, all the more reason to try to help them and convince them that a warm (and humid) hug from our clown friend is the best possible thing!

The interaction with the various characters is at the base of the enigmatic structure of Dropsy and takes the form of hugs (obvious) and through conversations based on symbols and drawings reproduced in thought clouds. There are, therefore, the canonical tree conversations, which perhaps represent the only real lack compared to the classics of the genre. The downside is that the heart of the puzzles often lies in the need to interpret the content of the clouds and understand what actually is asking us who is in front of us. Once you take this step, often, the riddle is nice and solved, even if there are situations where things remain complicated and there are a couple of absurd puzzles as they once were, although mostly limited to optional tasks.

"Optional" is a key word in interpreting the particularity and some of the reasons of interest offered by the game. Dropsy, in fact, is an open world graphic adventure, which proposes a line of main puzzles, to be solved to complete the game, but also a totally open map from the first moment, populated by characters who have small problems (of heart ) to solve. Returning the joy to the whole city is an enterprise within reach, but entirely optional, which leads to the release of some tasty extra elements and greatly expands the possible duration of the adventure (if instead you go straight to the end, you can reach it relatively quickly, although it always depends on how much you get stuck on this or that riddle).

The puzzles are based on rather classic mechanics, with actions to be performed interacting on objects and characters and with a system of multiple protagonists with very specific skills. And when I say "very specific" I'm not kidding, since Dropsy's companions are a dog and two other animals that are added later. Some of the best moments of the game from the point of view of the mechanics, as per tradition of the genre, are those in which you have to get around among all the characters, moving them around the same environment in order to activate assorted devices. Some of the least successful moments, always in the name of tradition, are those that see us bouncing here and there to solve puzzles from messengers. They are few, but they are somewhat intensified by the size of the map. Luckily, about halfway through the adventure, a fast travel system is unlocked and at that point wandering around the town becomes much more relaxing.

But Dropsy's real heart is, uh, in his heart. From the mechanics point of view it is a solid adventure, original in some of its discoveries, fascinating in the open nature and with some good enigma, but without particular revolutionary solutions. It works. Where it reaches a higher level is in the construction of an out of mind world, outlined by means of phenomenal sonorous, visual and narrative brush strokes. The soundtrack is something simply amazing, dazed, schizoid and perfect in accompanying the constant mood swings of the characters and the world in which the story takes place. And the graphics? The graphics comment with the immortal words of our Andrea Babich: “But does it have the best pixel art that I have seen for centuries or am I wrong? Like someone who has understood everything about graphics? ”.

As for the story, well, it's simple, funny, to a large extent scemotta, but always fascinating for the way it outlines the various supporting actors and capable of making itself excruciating in the moments when it decides to push on the accelerator. There are small moments that touch the heart and there is an evolution of the story that really knows how to leave its mark, then finding an epilogue of those that push you to embrace the monitor and love it very much. How many video games can do it?

I played Dropsy thanks to a Steam code received from the distributor and completed the adventure in just four hours, but leaving several optional puzzles behind me. By the way: if you want to complete everything, keep some saves, because once the final part of the game is "started", the map is blocked and what is left behind is lost.