Dry Drowning is a visual novel that touches psychological thriller themes accompanied by investigative elements. The title was developed in Italy by Studio V and VLG.
Previously released for PC (Steam and GOG) on August 2, 2019, this February the publishers VLG Publishing and WhisperGames, with great surprise, delight us by bringing to light on Nintendo Switch an old masterpiece that had fallen into oblivion.
The game won the Best of EGS 2019 and Best of JOIN 2019 awards, had an honorable mention at GAMEROME, and was also nominated as "BEST DEBUT GAME" at the Italian Video Game Awards 2020 declared Best Game of Join The Indie 2019 .
In our opinion, a porting is necessary both for convenience and to make this type of game better express. Thanks to Studio V and VLG, we were able to put our hands on the title. Will Dry Drowning be able to satisfy both new and old fans of the genre? Let's find out together!
Nova Polemos, a reality where not even the Gods can exempt themselves from the meanness of their peers
Our adventure takes place in the futuristic and dystopian city of Nova Polemos, in which any political authorities they claim to control every aspect of human life. The entire population is registered and subjugated by a technological network called Caligula. Freedom is only an appearance and people's status is assessed by an examination on which their future employment will be based.
We have been catapulted into a 2066, in the middle of the electoral campaign where the Black Bands party is gaining a growing consensus from fellow citizens. Everything would be perfect if the latter were not extremist, nationalist and xenophobic.
The events revolve around our two protagonists, Mordred Foley, a private detective tormented by a dark past and Hera Kairis, his trusted assistant. These are the founders of Foley Investigations, and right from the start of the game, they will make us participate in the events of the situation in which they find themselves.
The drama of the story falls within the canons of the cyberpunk genre with a hint of noir, managing to create a good intertwining thanks to some interesting characters that blend well with the style of the beautiful artwork.
There will be no shortage of choices, whether they are of great or slight impact and those of this grumpy detective will lead you to three alternate endings plus an additional one in the new game plus.
During the game our actions will not only affect the flow of events, but we will be faced with real moral choices that they will test our nerves, beliefs and values.
This component favors the replayability of the title by allowing you to discover some background of the story. But without any delay let's move on to the gameplay!
Investigate, choose and face the consequences
The title makes its strong point the long and engaging dialogues, however, presented in anonymously designed text boxes with no personality. The Log of these is particularly inconvenient to reach and very often we will feel the lack of a hotkey dedicated to this function.
Obviously, in such a technological world, an equally advanced device could not be missing, AquaOS, through which we will collect all the evidence of the various cases commissioned, accompanied by very useful information on the secondary characters that will help us to know them better.
The AquaOS will constitute our menu and within it we will find the inventory and other useful options, accessible at any time and able to provide you with new important information essential for the continuation of the story. We also appreciated the various quotes hidden in the biographies of the characters and in the objects that we can put in the inventory, some very beautiful and relevant to the plot.
The gameplay focuses mainly on the search of environments and crime scenes, using the cursor, which has not fully convinced us, but we will talk about this later. We will have to juggle between riddles and mini-games that will then lead us to a real interrogation in which we will have to "unmask" the culprit.
On the head of the protagonist there will be three disturbing eyes, which will close at our every mistake, leading us to the game over after three failed attempts. Don't worry though, the game will resume from the last interrogation so you don't have to find yourself too far behind in case you didn't save.
Interrogations will force you to pay attention to the smallest details because during this phase, you will be asked to present the right evidence at the appropriate time, following the clues and dialogues mentioned during your investigation.
The uploads between one scenario and the other provide details on the dystopian city and society of Nova Polemos, making the wait, already very short, useful and enjoyable.
A pause during the investigation
Unexpectedly at a certain point in the story you will unlock a very nice and complex puzzle at the same time. Obviously it doesn't matter if you find yourself in the course of the investigation or in front of a suspect, just open your device to start playing “be good citizen”.
The game in question consists of thirty levels of which at least only ten are really important. They will unlock a mysterious easter egg contained in the new game plus thus breaking the routine of the game. Pleasantly in all thirty levels we will be delighted by the company of a very pretty avatar.
Comfortable portability yes, but with some flaws
The convenience of being able to play such a title on a portable console is undisputed, but the lack of touch screen support is felt, which would facilitate investigations in "point and click" moments. The title in our opinion it has let slip the possibility of fully exploiting the functionality of the console.
The biggest flaw found lies in the docked mode, the size and color of the font make reading difficult and cumbersome. The white lettering is small and the black and white contrasts do not help during the game's “cutscenes”. Fortunately, during the dialogues they are not affected by this flaw.
An exciting musical sector
The sound accompaniment, entrusted to the piano, will cheer us up for the duration of the story in a convincing way, always keeping the player's attention high in the approximately 10 hours required to get to the credits. The music is composed by Giorgio Maioli and Alessandro Masi ("A te", "Ricordi", "Chissà se Pensiero") available for purchase separately on Steam.
Dry Drowning is a Visual Novel with excellent investigative elements and an exceptional narrative divided into three endings plus an additional one. The decisive, ethical and moral choices will lead to a crescendo of twists that will keep the player glued to the screen. But the lack of optimization on the Nintendo Switch won't do the title fully justice.
We recommend the title to those who love investigative Visual Novels, but also to newbies who for the first time want to try their hand at a different and stimulating narrative, which entertains with really interesting mechanics.