Review: Dry Drowning
Dry Drowning is a psychological investigative visual novel set in a futuristic dystopian city. We follow our protagonist, Mordred Foley, an unscrupulous private detective haunted by his dark past, and look into a series of macabre serial killings inspired by Greek mythology.
I have played my fair share of visual novel games, and I must admit, Dry Drowning is probably my favourite. Let’s start with the actual gameplay. Unlike other visual novels where the game is solely chat based, Dry Drowning, lets you not only speak to a variety of people to help with the investigation, but you can also explore crime scenes for clues. (At one point you also unlock a mini game which not only was enjoyable but can unlock a secret ending.) I liked the AquaOS system in the game, which let me see all the evidence I had collected so far, and read any documents I had obtained during gameplay. The game itself is easy to play, so beginners at visual novels would have no problem hopping into this game.
The art style within the game is pretty typical for most visual novels, (not that this is a bad thing,) the scenery and cutscenes are like detailed watercolour paintings, which match the tone for Dry Drowning. However, something unique about Dry Drowning’s art style is that although all the scenery is in colourful, all the characters are painted black and white. Not only does this make the characters stand out against the bright electronic city of Nova Polemos, but it could also represent how dark and disturbing the lives of the characters in the game actually are in this controlled city.
Something I liked about this game are the ‘game altering’ decisions. I have played many visual novels where it is very obvious which option is the ‘good’ choice and which one is the ‘bad’ choice and this can sometimes ruin the overall gameplay. However, Dry Drowning has the perfect balance between the ‘obvious’ choice and blurring the lines. There were a few times throughout the game where I didn’t know whether my option would lead to a good or bad outcome (which I will explain nearer the end of this review,) but ultimately, that’s what made this game more enjoyable.
Some other positive things to note about Dry Drowning were, firstly, the murders themselves. Each one was unique, intriguing to solve, well thought out but also clear that they were all linked the serial killer known as Pandora. The game did an excellent job of letting you figure out things for yourself, and not just dumping information onto you in long boring cutscenes. Also, I would like to note the representation of a trans character within this game (don’t worry I won’t spoil who,) but it was nice that when it is finally revealed that this particular character was trans, it didn’t become their defining feature, they are still represented by how they are as a person and how they do their job. Basically, what I’m trying to say it, sometimes games/show etc have a problem of making a trans characters only defining trait is that they’re trans, Dry Drowning did not do this and it was refreshing.
Okay, now onto my critiques. Originally Joel, another reviewer here at 60MW, was meant to review this game, unfortunately he had an instance where he tried reloading the game to continue and it crashed and completely destroyed his save file. Considering Dry Drowning is a relatively long-ish game (for a visual novel) this set him quite a bit back so instead of having to play the whole first half of the game over again, I offered to review it. The reason I mention this is to make readers aware that there is the possibility of the game crashing and completely erasing your save file which isn’t ideal.
Moving on, although I personally liked that each murder was inspired by a Greek myth, this could potentially exclude players. After the first murder, the game stops explaining how it is inspired by a Greek myth, I’m quite knowledgably in Greek mythology so I knew which myths each murder was referencing. If you’re someone who has little to no knowledge of Greek mythology, you could feel a little left out and lost since it’s integral to know about the particular myth in order to solve the murder.
Something else I didn’t like was the ‘final questioning’ parts of the game. Although I particularly like the masks and only getting three chances to mess up, I didn’t like that if you completely failed the questioning you had to restart the entire encounter, instead of just rewinding slightly. Another alternative which is already prevalent in lots of visual novels, and would have 100% worked for the style of Dry Drowning would be to see the consequences of failing your interrogations. Lots of your decisions effect the ending of the game, but it seemed that there was no option to ‘fail’ these interrogations, you had to complete them successfully to progress, it would be interesting if you could still progress even if you failed but it effects the plot in some way.
Dry Drowning is a fun and exciting story, that leaves you questioning your decisions and if you did ‘the right thing.’ I think I got the good ending but there again I also did start World War 3, so you win some you lose some. Other than a few grammatical mistakes I stumbled upon, the overall storyline is intriguing and enjoyable. If you’re looking for a darker visual novel with fun gameplay, Dry Drowning is for you.
Review by Megan.