Preview: Dropsy at PAX East ’15
Sara previews Dropsy at PAX East 2015.
This review was posted on the Marooner’s Rock website in March, 2015
Dropsy is an outcast in the world after a fire destroys his family’s circus. He’s left with his father and dog, Eughh, trying to survive day-to-day and rebuild his image as a local hero. Although he is grotesque and would give someone with coulrophobia nightmares, the only language Dropsy speaks is love. His babbles don’t make sense to your average person, so hugs and kindness are his only ways of communication. Though he does have a knack for conversing with animals.
Like all point and click adventure games, there’s a puzzle aspect to Dropsy where you have to figure out what the townspeople want and how to give it to them. Thought bubbles with symbols appear over NPCs’ heads stating their emotions and wants. Good guy Dropsy does everything he can to help out this dysfunction suburban city despite being very much plagued himself.
Dropsy is a game that I Kickstarted in 2013. After successfully making a little over $24,000 ($10,000 more than the original goal), the game was picked up by Devolver Digital to fund the stretch goals that weren’t made like voice acting. PAX East was its first convention appearance.
Creator and Developer Jay Tholen manned the two-person station where one computer screen projected to a much larger screen behind it for passersby to gain interest. I played on that PC so Jay focused on my game when talking to people waiting in line to play. Behind me, he would say things like, “I want to give you a hint so badly” or “Check that out.” Once, he lead me to a port-a-potty where Dropsy entered and a cacophony of fart sounds proceeded. I asked if he did the sounds himself. He proudly said yes, then quickly added that he made them with his mouth and not with other body parts.
Dropsy is an open world game, so it’s up to the players to decide where to explore. Jay stated that he wanted solutions to be figured out in an organic way, rather than linear. The way I went about playing was talk to every person along the way and keep a mental note of what they wanted. A little girl wanted a flower and an elderly lady in the alleyway wanted a sandwich. Despite the easy tasks, I couldn’t help but feel the townspeople gave off a strange Courage the Cowardly Dog vibe.
There’s no text in this game. Jay wants Dropsy to be an emotional journey that anyone, regardless of the language they speak, could experience. Due to that aspect, it sometimes became confusing on what to do. You also have the ability to take control of his dog. Oftentimes I found myself wandering around. When all else failed, I just gave a little love. Those who didn’t want an embrace, like the bodyguard outside of a night club, opted for a fist bump instead.
Though I didn’t get to play this part in the demo, Jay mentioned that an optional “Dreamworld” area is available. After going to sleep, the player can explore Dropsy’s past and learn more about his personality for five minutes at a time.
Before Dropsy was a point-and-click game, it was a choose your own adventure game via the Something Awful forums in 2008. An example of this can be found on Jay’s website. Before even that, Jay had our lovable clown in a platformer game he developed in 2004. It has come a long way since then, but you can still see he’s kept the same spirit from the concept.
I’m looking forward to the full release of the game coming out this summer on Steam. You can expect a follow up review on the game then.