๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ Dry Drowning | Review | Nintendo Switch | 7/10 | "A Cyberpunk Visual Novel" ๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ @VLGpublishing #IndieGames #GameDev

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A cyberpunk, visual novel with light interactive elements, Dry Drowning has great presentation and an intriguing story to tell but is held back by some elements of characterisation and gameplay.

Mordred Foley is your typical hard livin’ private eye living in the city of Nova Polemos during 2030. Prior to the events of the game, he and his associate - Hera Kairis – were involved in a case that blew up against them, pretty much wiping them out of the detective game, meaning that when a mysterious woman arrives at their office, enticing Mordred into investigating a murder case involving a shady political party, he has to accept this unpleasant offer for financial reasons.

The hand-drawn visuals and piano-led audio are really saucy here. With headphones especially, you can really get into the ambience of the game. Whilst a lot of Dry Drowning is dialogue-driven  - as it is a visual novel at heart, there are also some inventory-based puzzles and some Phoenix Wright-esque sections where you whip out certain items to point out errors in events and testimonies etc.

There’s also quite a neat and visually striking mechanic whereby people’s heads will morph into animalistic caricatures when they lie to Mordred, which is used to great effect in the game.

Mordred riled me slightly due to his constant snarkiness and churlishness and the game has 150 branching paths but whilst I could alter the events of the game, his characterisation and dialogue felt like it didn’t always match up to the decisions I was making.

I think I would have preferred a single narrative path with more focus on investigation and interrogation as opposed to making occasional binary choices as it would make the game a more linear but involved experience. It would also eliminate the refusal of Mordred’s character to adapt to the altering story paths. That said, I can easily see how other players may prefer that they can alter the events of the story and see past Mordred’s seeming emotional inflexibility.

This is a very well-presented world with a lot of lore-building and history. You can easily lose yourself as you mentally build up a picture of Nova Polemos and beyond. The political machinations and character motivations feel quite well-rounded and explored without being overly verbose.

Whilst I enjoyed the dark, serial killer plot and the morally murky world with it’s muted colour palette along with Giorgio Maiolo’s score, the fact that I found Mordred grating as a character never shifted and the deeper I got into the tale and the more choices I made, the more I preferred the thought of a more rigid narrative.

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