Hands-on Preview – Dry Drowning

Dry Drowning (Studio V, VLG Publishing – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch) Release: August 2nd 2019

Unmask the truth

Dry Drowning is an investigative thriller that unravels a twisted and very mature plot in a dystopian European city. Set in the near future in 2066, we’re introduced to Mordred Foley, a private detective with a questionable past. Between countless packets of cigarettes and conversations with his partner, Hedra, Foley is tasked with solving who is behind a series of disturbing serial murders that appear to have odd connections to tales from Greek mythology.

Armed with a keen eye and a mouse/controller, players will have to search for evidence, question suspicious individuals and draw conclusions based on all the information you’ve unearthed. As Foley, you’ll have to prove that you’re worth keeping on a case and will have to make accurate reconstructions of crime scenes to both earn the respect of other police officials, and in some cases, survive. We found that in some instances, you’ll be required to pick the exact piece of evidence necessary to move a conversation forward, with a lot of room for error. However, at climactic points in the story, the game utilises a three-strike mechanic, in which you’re afforded three failed attempts at establishing a timeline at a crime scene or tripping up a suspect before the game ends. This quite literally delivers on the typically overstated ‘choices really matter’ claim and makes you feel more invested in your actions.

Making mistakes may get you killed

Developer, Studio V, has previously stated that there are over 150 story branches and three different endings to discover, providing us with a lot of replay value. As the game doesn’t feature any voice acting, you’ll have a lot to read through, as Foley is almost constantly in conversations with other characters. After uncovering a piece of evidence or meeting a new character, you can also read through biographies and item descriptions to glean as much information as possible and solve the contorted mysteries that continue to crop up.

Complimenting this visual novel’s dark atmosphere, Dry Drowning puts a unique spin on the notion of lying. Foley is equipped with a very strange power that distorts his perception of people if they decide to lie to him. When another character lies, an animal mask will materialise to cover their face. In these situations, Foley will have to quickly and accurately separate the truth from false information, slowly revealing their human face again in the process. These moments can feel very tense as too many oversights can prematurely end Foley’s investigation. Other portions of the game require you to solve problems, which will depend on you not only sourcing relevant evidence, but also analysing it to fit the puzzle in question. All of this made for a tense experience that kept us alert and engaged.

There have been some concerns as to whether the game’s text has been proofread as the demo build features a variety of misspellings and grammatical errors. We are happy to report that the first chapter of the game remedies these qualms. We spent our time playing the PC version of the game, however, there will be ports for all of the current generation consoles. Judging by the graphics setting in which there are no options but ‘Simplistic’, we would say that you should have no issues picking up Dry Drowning on any platform. To be fair, this game is a visual novel, so it would be a bigger surprise if it suddenly ran poorly on any of these machines! As Dry Drowning is broken into chapters, we’d personally recommend the Nintendo Switch version as it gives you the option of playing the game on a handheld, or docked to a TV.

If you like the sound of Dry Drowning, make sure to check out the game’s demo on Steam and GOG. The developers have ensured that saves from the demo will transfer over to the full version of the game, so you can pick up right where you left off when the game releases on 2nd August.

Written for the August 1st issue of DailyBits.