There is a tremendous amount to love about Dropsy (both the game and oddball protagonist). Beyond the positive gameplay focus of bringing joy to everyone around you, the visuals, characters and variety of landscapes provide one heck of an experience.
When Dropsy's quest becomes grander, based around a larger conspiracy, some of this charm wears off. As the game becomes more "normal," Dropsy's original challenge of endearing himself to those he repulses fades, and the puzzles start seeming a little tedious. So many are based around a difficult to manage day/night cycle, and many others around the talents of collectible animals. But before things escalate, when it's just the story of a clown without a circus, the sentiment warms you like a hug.
Having played lots of the classic adventure games in the '90s, I find myself now completely bereft of nostalgia for them. Games, I've felt, have generally moved on and found better ways to impart an experience of "adventure." But Dropsy is deftly executed and so full of genuine heart and warmth that it overcame my cold-hearted distaste for the form. It's sweet without ever being saccharine, tells a story that disturbs without ever resorting to cynicism, and ultimately is disarmingly uplifting.
The subject matter in Dropsy is shockingly deep, and in a similar way to Horace, a platformer I reviewed a while back, the more you play it, the more there is to uncover, and what might seem like a shallow premise at first eventually turns out to be anything but. Dropsy is just that. Layer upon layer of subtle storytelling in a way that’s rarely found in videogames today. I was moved by it and I’m sure you will be too if you give it a chance.
Overall, in spite of needing to retrain my brain on how to interact with the world (it’s easier to travel without also carrying around a mouse and a dongle), Dropsy was a pleasant, interesting, if somewhat short adventure. It had heart, it had some truly gross moments, it had a horrifying cold open, and it was charming, however you can interpret that.
Games like Dropsy remind us of the power of small actions and simple pleasures. It reminds us that art doesn’t have to be challenging or complex to be meaningful, and that positive emotions are not as worthless as the world wants you to believe. It reminds us that it is OK to feel happy when things are going bad, and that there are still people who truly want to make the world a better place for everyone. It reminds us that it is easy to hate people and a lot harder to love them, and it does so with such earnestness that it is clear the game recognizes the difficulty of what it’s asking but believes it important enough to do so all the same. Dropsy is a game that is powerfully loving in a way most media only plays at, and I cannot overstate how rare and significant that is.
Dropsy is a stand-out in the point-and-click genre and a resurgence of classic mechanics. A simultaneously heart-warming and heart-wrenching experience, this game is able to convey emotion unlike any game I have played in a long while.