Dry Drowning (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 01.08.2019

Review for Dry Drowning on PC

Style over substance isn't necessarily a bad thing. A well stylized game can naturally find substance in its style. Unfortunately, whether or not style can become substance generally depends on the genre. In an action title like Devil May Cry, style is the substance. In a visual novel, style can only go so far, though. What makes a visual novel worth playing, above all else, is its script. Strong presentation can help bolster a lacking plot, but a poorly written script can, and will, drag down any text heavy title - like Dry Drowning.

As far as premises go, Dry Drowning has one of the more unique visual novel stories out there. While protagonist Mordred Foley might be a bit too clichéd for his own good - a private dick with plenty of personal demons to keep him jaded and indelicate - his exploits are genuinely quite interesting. Specifically, the fact that he's hot on the trail of a string of serial killings, all of which reference Greek mythology in some way.

For mythology buffs, the killings make for an inspired reimagining of Grecian lore. The imagery in particular stands out. While character models take on a pseudo-photorealistic approach, the art style shines most when it's repurposing Greek mythology's animalistic and almost tribal imagery. Paired with an aesthetic that comes off drably real at times, the killings have more impact as a result.

Screenshot for Dry Drowning on PC

In general, the title shines when it comes to presentation. Backgrounds are vibrant, typically bursting with only a single colour at a time, and the muted palette that's draped over each character pairs well with the neo-noir inspired environments. Aesthetically, the project is reminiscent of both Bladerunner and Hotel Dusk, but never to the point where the general style stops feeling fresh.

Of course, no detective story is complete without the appropriate soundtrack. While the use of a live soundtrack is by no means fresh or novel, it does help keep the story grounded in reality. There's a very "real" quality to the sound direction, one that's charmingly immersive. At times, it's almost as if the music is being heard from Mordred's ears specifically.

For as top notch as the overall presentation is, however, unfortunately, Dry Drowning suffers from an undercooked script. Not to the point where it outright ruins the experience, but a visual novel shouldn't be fumbling when it comes to its writing. It seems as though more time was put into crafting the world than writing a story in the world.

Screenshot for Dry Drowning on PC

…Which isn't an inherent design flaw, but the quality of writing is at odds with the genuinely intriguing story. Moments of prose tend to be overwritten and flowery, prioritizing irrelevant imagery over moving the plot forward. The script tries to be introspective and cerebral, but it does so without any sense of tact, hitting the audience over the head with seemingly complex themes without ever scratching beyond the surface level.

The title prides itself on a supposedly living, breathing world where Mordred's actions ultimately affect the NPCs around him, but when every character is more or less written with the same absence of voice, caring about any so-called "moral decision" is asking quite a lot from the audience.

Screenshot for Dry Drowning on PC

Worse yet, the time travel system leaves a lot to be desired narratively. It's meant to be a way to weave gameplay and story together while also revealing parts of Mordred's past, but the visual novel is already on the long side, dragging the pace out. If nothing else, the physiological investigations (which seem to take a not so subtle page from later Ace Attorney titles) do provide some memorable set pieces and visuals.

With such a lacklustre script, it's difficult to recommend Dry Drowning to fans of the genre. The investigative purposes are par for the course - light exploration with lighter puzzle solving - forcing the title to more or less rely on its interesting, but poorly paced and poorly written story.

Screenshot for Dry Drowning on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

As far as presentation goes, Dry Drowning does put its best foot forward. The excellent sound direction pairs well with the muted, almost gritty art style. Unfortunately, for as aesthetically and stylistically pleasant as the visual novel is, its script leaves quite a bit to be desired. It isn't so much that the story is bad - there's a very intriguing layer of horror that permeates over the narrative - but that dialogue is especially weak. Mordred is not a particularly compelling protagonist, and most of the character writing comes off distinctly voiceless and surface level. The story revolving around serial killing inspired by Greek Mythology is enough to keep the plot engaging, but it's hard to ignore a visual novel whose greatest flaw is its writing.

Developer

Studio V

Publisher

VLG Publishing

Genre

Visual Novel

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date 02.08.2019   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Insanoflex, Ofisil

There are 2 members online at the moment.