Circus Dropsy

Here on Guns and Pixels, we writers are huge endorsers of independent games. Our reviews and a couple of insights (By Pol Jordan and yours truly) prove that. Occasionally, a triple A game hit the front cover but, overall, indie games have found in our site a true defender and supporter. Pitiful it is when one of those games misses the target.

 

Game: Dropsy

Year: 2015

Developer: Tendershoot / A Jooly Corpse

 

I(ll) Pagliacci

Dropsy is a clown. A creepy clown (is there any clown that isn’t?) that was involved in a huge fire in the circus tent. That’s as much as we know. The rest will be unraveled through the gameplay. ‘Dropsy’ is a point-n-click adventure that puts us in the role of the hated –by the community- clown. He wants the love of the people back (actually, we don’t really know if he was ever loved or respected) and for that he will embark on tasks and puzzles all over the town. For accomplishing that he will befriend with a nice doggy that will dig up things out of the soil and get into places where he can’t get. All in order to receive some hugs, universal demonstration of affection.

Are we OK?

Well. Here is where things get messy. This could have been a nice mediocre platform game, but apparently ‘indie’ also means deep and profound. So, a graphic adventure suddenly turns into a dark, disturbing metaphor of something that really doesn’t gets to the point or it’s clear in any way. The clown has no arms but two of those stretchy balloons. Metaphor? His name is ‘Dropsy’ god dammit.

 

Nothing but a Clown

The visuals are not good. In full screen and high resolution, the pixel art is messy and confusing. I had to play the game in window mode to understand the scenery. Its years behind latest pixel art games like ‘Fez’, ‘The Deer God’ or ‘Shovel Knight’. It looks like an old Lucas Arts graphic adventure. Sadly, we are in 2015 and games should try a little harder. Even more when others in the same category raised the bar so much while ago. It doesn’t help either that the game has no dialog. All characters make random sounds and instead of words we get image balloons. And most of the time is really hard to understand what the hell the NPC wants from you. The only thing clear is that the whole town –but a fellow co-worker- hates your guts. Apparently, you are the scapegoat my man. My really eerie man.

Music is actually fine. I actually have a tune of the game in my mind I can’t get out. Like many others of the genre, the songs change between screens and environments around the town. Chris Schlarb (also composer of ‘NightSky’ for the 3DS) did a wonderful job with the obscure premise the game has.

Gameplay is ok. Being a point-n-click game, ‘Dropsy’ is fully playable with one hand (the one on the mouse) while the other holds gently your chin while you try to understand what the hell you have to do. Oh! There’s a map! Yikes! Let’s go there. Bummer, everyone despises me.

 

Pennywise but sad

I know. I seemed cranky throughout the review. I wasn’t. I’m not. It’s just that this game could have been good, and it isn’t. Not for today standards. You can’t develop a game that is meant to be metaphorical and wrap it up in a chaotic way. And ‘Dropsy’ is not chaotic for his pace. The game is relaxed (well, maybe not those sinister dream situations). It’s confusing because you have somewhat of a plot and you don’t care to get the player to discover and resolve it.

Jay Tholen, the developer tried to be deep with a vague method that doesn’t work. Or at least it didn’t work for me. I don’t enjoy a game when I don’t understand what I have to do. I hated those retro puzzles like the one in Castlevania (follow this link). Those weren’t puzzles. Those were unfair challenges designed to prolong the game lifetime. But at least there were actual words to try to solve. Dropsy’s frustrating image language makes the game harder with absolutely no reason.

‘Dropsy’ is hitting the virtual shelves September 10th on Steam through Devolver Digital (the publishers of Serious Sam and Hotline Miami sagas). Maybe you should check it out a few gameplays on Youtube before inroducing numbers of your credit card.

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