Never have I ever played a game where you can hug every NPC as a yellow-toothed clown with an unflinching grin of pure horror. It’s not like I’ve never wanted to do that, I’ve just never been given the opportunity to give Leon Kennedy a big red nose, send him into the city and fight the zombies with their own tactics. Until now, games like Dropsy have been unable to rupture forth from bowel of my nightmares and cuddle me into Stockholm syndrome. This is 2015 though, and if the small amount of the game I played is any indication, Dropsy is shaping up to be exactly what you’d expect from it’s trailer: Weird.
Dropsy is a point-and-click adventure game that looks like Rocko’s Modern Life ran off to join Cirque du Soleil and got hit by a garbage truck on the way. You control Dropsy, a goofy, grotesque clown plodding through a strange, pixellated world while suffering the odd night terror here and there. You’re given tasks to complete, which is pretty standard fare for point-and-clicks, but everything is presented through abstract imagery rather than text. It ties into the atmosphere of the game, which is WTF coated in a murky glaze of surrealism.
Calling Dropsy ‘demented’ is like calling my brief love affair with a Panasonic microwave oven I found by the side of the road ‘an odd choice’. Everyone and everything you meet and hug is, in one way or another, a stranger version of what it’s trying to be. It’s all over the top, much like the style of Sam and Max Hit The Road, and since it still has half a toe in reality, the wackiness never loses it’s novelty. Mind you, this is still a point-and-click adventure game, so the puzzles can get pretty obnoxious.
There’s nothing worse than playing a puzzle game that relies on finding something in the most convoluted place you could imagine. While I managed to get through most of the puzzles without too much hassle, there were moments that left me screaming at my monitor. For instance, there was one puzzle that involved me unlocking a fridge to save a mouse from an oversized rat (trust me, made more sense in the game), but the key was hidden under a bed. There was no way of knowing it would be under there, but I guess that’s half the point of point-and-click games. Still, the pixel art didn’t make it apparent that I could even look under there, which is a bit of an issue.
While the pixellated art style is a lovely throwback to retro games of old, it did hamper my ability to actually play the game. While I was searching for things to help me out, I relied so heavily on my cursor to change that it became my main way of getting what I’d need. There were definitely a good amount of puzzles that required you to use your brain, but I felt like some of them would take just as long if I randomly waved my cursor across the screen. I guess that comes with the territory though, and I wasn’t too peeved by it when I got to hug everyone.
The strangest thing about Dropsy isn’t it’s visuals or puzzle design, it’s that even though he looks like a sentient urinal, I felt sympathetic for that damn clown. It’s not like I expected to feel much for the monstrosity, but the game had me emotionally invested pretty quickly. It’s no storytelling masterpiece, but it wasn’t just another typical crazy point-and-click either. I hadn’t gotten that far into the game either, so it says a lot about the potential this game has to offer.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised from what I’d played of Dropsy, even it was barely a couple of hours worth of hugging and smiling. It looks borderline Cronenberg, what with the whole mutant-looking clown thing, but there’s a bit more to it than that. If you’re looking for something that mixes the disturbed with the delightful, then Dropsy is definitely something to keep an eye on. And, hey, you can hug everyone you meet. Except the night terror face thing. He eats you. Don’t hug him.