Dropsy first made a name for itself when Jay Tholen launched a Kickstarter for a truly unique point and click adventure title in 2013. Over a thousand folks helped fund this title thanks to its unusual premise and now it’s finally nearing launch. But what exactly is Dropsy, the game, and why is its protagonist, also named Dropsy, so obsessed with hugging everyone in his path? The background seems simple. Once upon a time, Dropsy the clown was a much-loved icon of the circus. This all changed one day when the entire circus tent was burned down — bringing that joyous event to a terrifying close. It seems that the townsfolk now attribute the blame to Dropsy, even though it seems impossible such a fun-loving hugging fan would have ever done such a thing on purpose.
The game presents itself as a point and click adventure with multiple unique aspects. Most immediately apparent is that there’s a lack of spoken or written dialogue. At least, it’s not presented via words. Instead, when characters chat with Dropsy they do so via comic text bubbles filled with images meant to impart what they’re saying as well as what they might want from you. Some symbols are tremendously easy to discern, such as when townsfolk show an angry Dropsy face and appear terrified or angry. There are occasions where things don’t seem super clear, but exploring the town and surrounding areas may provide the insight necessary to solve something.
Dropsy also happens to be an open world-styled game. This means that, unlike many point and click adventure titles, you’re free to walk a ton of areas without having to solve puzzles in a specific order first. Some areas are still gated off, but the way you get through them may be via a different series of puzzles than someone else. One player may never even do a certain puzzle while another solves it early on. Right from the start players will notice just how many puzzles exist in this world. Most characters have a task for you and many areas offer item pickups. The hardest part so far seems to be keeping every potential puzzle in mind. After all, after walking to the far edges of the map you may have completely forgotten about a far away screen and associated solution.
Meandering through town reveals how gorgeous the pixel art style is. Sure, the town itself may look rather drab and run down, but so would any place when compared with Dropsy’s colorful demeanor. The contrast between a more “realistic” setting and fanciful protagonist is striking. Along with that, other characters also manage to be quite lively and colorful in their own ways. Of course, Dropsy himself is the most “animated” of all. This rotund clown may no longer perform officially for people, but his face still remains decorated with typical clown coloration and a wide smile. It also appears his existence is still centered around bringing joy to others. It’s a bit of a sad thing, really, to see how fixated with other’s happiness he is even when they reject him. Dropsy smiles and undulates in both a creepy and adorable way when things finally work out and that adds even more charm to the character.
There seems to be far more to Dropsy than first meets the eye. Yes, it looks like a colorful, weird game and so far it is proving to be that, but you’ll find more to the experience after playing through for a while. The expansive world invites continued exploration as you meet tons of new people, creatures and solve puzzles all along the way. The implementation of image-based speech may not excite some players, but it makes the point and click gameplay more interesting. The whole experience also simply makes you want to know more about Dropsy. Why is this clown so unlike everyone else in town? What’s the story behind the circus disaster — and whose fault was it? Is there more to what’s going on than is immediately apparent? Somehow, we’ll be able to discover all Dropsy’s secrets when the game launches on September 10 for Windows, Mac and Linux.