Dropsy Review: A Beautiful Point and Click

With the new wave of point and click games from the likes of Telltale that focus on a narrative streamlined approach, players seem to enjoy the always unfolding drama, with no tedious puzzles to dampen the experience. For others, newer games are missing the challenging puzzles that made point and click rewardable and in turn, enjoyable. Dropsy feels like the point and clicks of old, bringing in the traditional ideas and polishing them up, creating a fairly testing but beautifully crafted game that will sometimes leave you stumped. Dropsy serves as a great nostalgia trip to the past, for better or for worse.

A light but inspiring tale, you take the role of Dropsy, a clown on a downer due to the recent loss of his mother in a circus fire accident. Initially tasked with simply visiting your mother’s’ grave, the story unfolds into a heartwarming tale of a dopey clown finding solace by making other people around his town happy. Each person around the town has some sort of problem upsetting them, from a child upset that her rose withered to a church group annoyed with a loud preacher. While some are fairly straightforward, others can be quite difficult to solve, which can lead to some tedious ‘try everything in your inventory’ situations. The problem here lies with the creative direction of having no speech in the game, instead having speech bubble above each character with images in them. Although this is a suitable match for the aesthetic of the game, and really adds charm, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what each character wants, and where to find the items that appear on the speech bubbles.

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The gameplay brings classic point and click to the modern day, polishing it up and bringing the good, and consequently the bad along too.  In each section of the open world, there are many things to find and pick up, and each will be required to be used with another object or a person to continue the story. While being able to freely explore the colourful world was a joy, I did have trouble in the initial stages of the game, as it becomes open world immediately after the opening cutscene, and so I spent my first moments stumbling around the map, picking up anything I could see. Eventually I got my bearings and slowly but surely started using the items to progress the story, though at times I was missing a crucial item, and although the open world is both varied and beautiful, I still would have to scour its entirety to find the one object i needed, which was naturally irritating and time consuming at times.

Dropsy’s story takes around seven hours to complete, and you can be assure that all of this time is spent with an experience that is very well paced and well crafted. Between retrieving the correct item to advance were some really well produced, though simple cutscenes, some of which really hit the heart as you build an emotional connection with Dropsy and the universe he exists in. There were a few neat point and click puzzles during the game, which made a nice change to the gameplay. Helping people around the town feels very rewarding, especially if you have spent a while working out what you need to do, and being able to hug NPC’s after making them happy just makes it that much sweeter.

I’m not sure quite where it hit me, but after some time with Dropsy’s world, I began to fall in love with the game, I absolutely adored the pixel art style, and the animation gave it a crisp retro feel. It was always so bright and wonderful, with each location different from the next, a pleasure to explore. The Music in the game was equally evoking, with a few different tracks played depending on where you are, and what time of day it is. It was this artistic design that game that made me look past its gameplay imperfections. Sure, a point and click game can be tedious if you get stuck, and I did get frustrated at times. But my attachment Dropsy’s world made me stick with it. 

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The payoff when succeeding and making a character happy was priceless. There are a wide range of interesting, weird and wonderful characters, all of which add just a little bit of charm to the overall design and kept it fresh. Points of the story made me happy,  while others made me sad. Ultimately it made me emotionally attached, albeit it took some time to do so, but even so, any game that does this gets well deserved high praise from me.

It’s difficult not to recommend Dropsy to anyone on its charm and character alone. However, the bad aspects typical of the point and click genre are present in this game as they are in any other. Anyone who doesn’t enjoy the genre perhaps won’t find anything innovative or interesting here. But those who can tolerate some of the trial and error mechanics found in similar games such as Sam and Max or Grim Fandango, will definitely find something interesting this title. While Dropsy doesn’t do anything particularly new, it offers a well polished, inspiring tale in a fantastically  realized, colorful environment that’s absolutely packed with charm. Nothing is ever cheesy or tacky, and each moment of the story strengthens emotional attachments between the player and characters, making you feel invested in this mumbling clown and various other members of a vibrant cast. If you can overlook the somewhat frustrating item hunting and repetitive  ‘let’s try everything until something works’, you will find Dropsy to be another great addition to an ever expanding library of well produced adventure games. 

 

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Author: Tom Cotton

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