Dry Drowning Review (Nintendo Switch)
Dry Drowning is an investigative thriller-oriented visual novel set in the futuristic dystopian universe of Nova Polemos.
A shady socio-political situation dragging everything down to the abyss, a serial killer drawing strength from this darkness, a tormented detective, and his assistant craving for redemption.
Dry Drowning challenges the player to find the truth, going through ambiguous characters, riddles, clues, and unexpected events while telling an extremely compelling and mature story.
- Choices really matter: Players choices can lead to an always different story, with more than 150 story branches and 3 completely different endings
- Heavy moral choices: Dramatically change the way you live the game, affecting background politics, technology, environment, NPC encounters, who lives and who dies
- High replayability: More than 20 hours of gameplay to see everything about
- Time travel: Explore the detective’s flashbacks and investigate cases from the past to help you solve new ones
- Psychological interrogations: Break the masks and uncover the truth with the Living Nightmares system
- Original soundtrack: dynamic OST with more than 50 audio tracks, some of which live recorded, for more than 2 hours of music
At first glance, Dry Drowning is a typical visual noir-style game that we have seen done a few times before. However, this time around there are some stand-out differences with Dry Drowning. Its environments are very cyberpunk in nature with its dystopian setting. The game is VERY heavy on politics and class warfare where the rich have all the power and the poor working class are suffering just to get by. There are numerous twists and turns in the story that really starts to come together closer to the end of the game, which can make this one a tough one to get into overall. However, its short run time makes it easy enough to jump back in and make choices. To remain spoiler-free the game boasts that the choices really matter, which we have definitely heard promised many times before in the gaming world, but Dry Drowning does actually do a decent job of it. Now, there are three separate endings so some choices can shape which one of those you get but most choices really just affect how you get there vs shaping the narrative too much. You play detective Foley who is your typical disgruntled private eye trying to deal with the ghosts of his past and following a trail of clues left by a serial killer.
The game does feature some amazing artwork, which was all hand-painted by developers. It really has a great aesthetic in character design, atmosphere, and the like. The music is also a pretty significant highlight as well, much of it really adds to the grandness and storytelling of the game.
The gameplay is pretty standard fare for the visual novel gamer. It has its standard point and click portions where you investigate the areas and look for clues that will help you during the dialogue-driven interrogation sections. How the interrogations work is you present the different evidence you collected to refute statements from the guilty parties. Similar to Phoenix Wright yelling “Objection!”. There are some other light environmental puzzles to experience throughout the game as well, which are very simple in nature and serve more as a way to break up the dialogue heavy gameplay.
Overall this was a pleasant playthrough and a worthwhile experience for fans of visual novels. But with that being said there are some issues with the game on Nintendo Switch vs playing it on Steam where it was initially released. Number one, the interface wasn’t retooled for the Switch which causes some issues with controls (not being as intuitive as it could be and the text is quite small when playing portable). The point and clicky-ness of the game doesn’t translate so well either, you can clearly tell the game was designed with a mouse in mind, which doesn’t stop you from playing but makes it a lot harder to go through. The other issue is more of a personal thing, and that is there are no voiceovers. While not necessary for these types of games, this would have been a VERY welcomed addition now and then for sure. The introduction to the game was the only part where there was a voice-over and it would have helped with the hard-to-read text or just make it easier to deal with the game overall.
All in all, this is a great game for fans of visual novels, however, if you aren’t already into these types of games regardless of how great the story maybe it’s going to be hard to win over new fans to the genre.