Written by Kerith Busby
Dry drowning is a investigative thriller visual novel which has been developed by In-House and published by the people at VLG publishing, the game is has a dark and gritty nior feel to the game with notes of old school detective agencies and a futuristic dystopian cyberpunk feel that takes place in the fictional city of Nova Polmos.
Before I get stuck into the game play and story, I want to talk a bit about the art style and graphics, I realise this is not normally the sort of thing I lead with, but it has to happen this time. The art style is a mix of western and eastern art styles and it is all overshadowed by future which has been portrayed really well in the art and it really grabs you, just try not to get so engrossed that you miss the clues though. The one thing that I did find well done but also with slightly creepy notes is you feel like the characters on screen could move at any point and this is not helped by the fact the still characters blink but over all it works really well.
So, onto the Dry Drowning itself, the year is 2066 you are playing as Mordred Foley and you run Foley investigations. You have just been found not guilty for the deaths of 2 people which happened during an investigation, you are approached by someone from a questionable political party and asked to investigate a murder that has taken place. The issue before you is your disgraced and hated by people and the police so you don’t have a lot of choices on the horizon, so you need to decide what to do each step of the way.
Dry drowning is rich with choices that will change and effect the outcome of the story as you move forward where you will be forced to decided how to progress, some decisions you don’t think are that important until you realise hours later you burned a bridge that would have been a massive help to you and could of helped you solve a crime.
Dry drowning has a large clue system some of which is based around the hologram tech that is available in the future to rebuild the crime scene after the police has left, there is biography pages on each character you meet as well as the usual evidence and normal sort of clues that you will acquire and find on you travels. It gives you a little more freedom in terms of traveling to other locations than I expected as you chase down clues and leads, you may find your self going back and forth between places to ask more questions of people when new information comes to light as well.
Dry Drowning offers 150 in game effecting choices and 3 different overall endings so the amount of replay value in the game is potentially huge, which is handy as it has a really good story. You will have to deal with some more touchy subjects in the game as the future is a closed-minded place with issues like Gender, sexuality, nationality and racism running rampant in Nova Polmos as the ruling political parties have their own agenda they wish to stick to.
Mordred does have a very different and unique ability where he can detect lies, if someone is lying to you they will develop a animalistic mask on their character and then more you pick away at the lies and get the truth it will start to fade. This won’t give you the answers as you are not sure what they are lying about exactly but it puts across the feeling of doubt you might get being face to face with someone who is lying quite well.
Not only will you need to fight with Mordred’s dark past in Dry drowning, but you will also have to battle against a crazed serial killer with a love of Greek mythology which you will encounter as you progress through the game.
I found the story to be gripping and I have not wanted to stop playing, I found myself playing for hours at a time as it really keeps your attention and the twists and turns will make you want to discover the truth before you.
Overall, I give the game a solid 8/10, for my first foray into the genre I am very pleased with what I have found.