So I managed to get a sneak peek at the upcoming, grisly detective drama “Dry Drowning”. A game where it rains all the time, private detectives smoke like a chimney, grisly murders out number people 2 to 1 and only one man with a shady past can do anything right ... Well sort of.
Dry Drowning is labelled as an adult/dark crime drama which is intended for mature audiences. Now whenever I see things like this I’m either thinking this could be a rather mature and dark story that’s not for the faint of heart (something like Killer 7 or The Last of Us). Or my brain thinks of teenage boys writing overly complicated short stories, involving nudity, senseless violence and swearing to seem edgy, cool and more grown up than they really are. I’m always a little dubious whenever I hear any creator stating their story is dark, gritty and mature. Because you don’t need much to make a story engaging and dark and pushing too much just makes the thing fail apart.
While I’m sure Dry Drowning is hopefully the former in the both examples, but there’s only one way to find out.
Dry Drowning is a bleak tale set in the near future where it constantly rains and everyone wears leather (aside from handsome private eye). It seems like there’s been a horrid murder and only one man is blamed for the crime. The stakes are raised considering this man is the head of a very controversial political party who's ideology gathers those who are considered worthless to society and takes them out in a number of violent methods. Yet things have changed with the party, they have re-framed from using violence it seems but still push an unholy agenda. As private eye Mordred Foley, you have been tasked with finding the real killer and proving the innocence of a highly controversial politician. Yet things aren't going to be easy as the murder resembles an old case Foley tackled many years prior.
Dry Drowning features murder, conspiracy and the darker side to politics. It's an interesting setup, one that's been done before but there is enough charm and gravitas to pull players in. Considering there are physiological elements that play a big part in the story, how everything is very grey in terms of the morality behind certain actions and motives. So far there doesn't appear to be an easy solution but rather interesting choices which you make based on your own agenda.
The story does cram a lot of elements to make it “ultra-dark” and gritty but it’s never overkill in my opinion. I was expecting it to feature everything purely wrong, distasteful and immature (the three things “edgey” writers fall for when they craft a story) but thankfully certain elements are handled well. There’s themes involving racism, social politics, class war and violence and all of these elements blend well into a decent story.
I will admit that the dialogue at times can be cheesy or just plain weak with the tongue in cheek character designs being a little distracting, considering the game is trying to pull off a mature story.
Later on the story does become more interesting and turns out some compelling characters you’ll like and hate. The choices appear to be more meaningful and sooner rather than later, you’ll feel the impact. Questioning yourself whether you did the right thing. It is stated there are 150 branching story choices (which is pretty impressive) but only three endings? Does this mean most choices will mean very little to the overall story or will large factors in the journey itself change? Hopefully it's the latter.
The interface is very simple and allows players to engage the control scheme and UI within a matter of minutes. Players can do the usual thing in point and click adventures where they speak with various NPCS to find out more information on the situation, gather and examine clues and other objects and also look up information on various characters you meet throughout the game.
There’s not much from the investigation side of things, aside from gathering evidence, looking at crime scenes and asking NPCs about certain topics of interests, there’s not a lot of depth to the overall structure. Aside from when you collect enough evidence and can reconstruct a crime scene/what happened. These is a nice break from the simple point and click side to the gameplay and offers some tension as you have to work out things for yourself. But in the early stages there’s no failure as you can just select the evidence you want and not face any serious punishment.
Yet something came up which if plays out, could be an interesting mechanic. I was discussing the case with a certain NPC and soon enough another NPC entered the scene to discourage my input and her face turned into a ghoulish creature. It was later implied that this meant she was lying about something. So if the main character has the ability to detect lies and use it to their advantage. This could be a rather compelling mechanic in interrogation and detection.
The art direction is nice, with some beautiful art in the menus, cut scenes and decent character art in game. Although there are various tones mixed together, some is slightly abstract, some looks fairly anime and other look like beautiful matt-paintings. There are some odd changes in the visual style but it’s all nice and the game is oozing with atmosphere.
Dry Drowning is a slow burner which feels as though it wants to prove so hard that it’s dark and mature. However there are some great elements here with a decent story that’s paced well, nice art style and some genuinely difficult choices. If new elements are introduced in the later stages of the game, then it will be very engaging and even a brilliant point and click/mature adventure game.