September 17, 2015 1:00 AM | Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Gnome
People will tell you that Dropsy is a traditional point-and-click adventure staring a creepy clown. That clowns are scary and point-and-click adventures boring. Of course, people are wrong and though Dropsy is definitely a clown and clowns --for reasons I never understood-- are indeed considered creepy, the only thing creepy about Dropsy is people considering Dropsy creepy.
Ergo Dropsy subverts the concept of creepiness and, quite obviously, any game pulling off something like this cannot be traditional; especially when being an adventure all about hugging that sports an open world and wonderful day-night cycles. Besides, traditional or not, point-and-clickers, as Dropsy and Lucasarts' best effortlessly prove, can tell stories in ways no other genre could ever hope to approach.
Even more impressively, stories that don't use a single world -- not even in menus and definitely not in dialogues-- yet effortlessly let you know they are all about a clown whose circus burned down five years ago, has been blamed for it and is, probably, looking for redemption. You know, ambiguous, heart-warming stories that are open to interpretation.
Just as deciphering the game's stylized dialogues and odd alphabet (yes, it's doable) is part of the overall experience, so is piecing together Dropsy's backstory and figuring out the plot. All you have to go by are the hundreds of frames of expressive animations, the beautiful, dynamic soundtrack, those stunning backgrounds, a menagerie of great characters and the point-of-view of a child.
Dropsy, you see, despite his size and obvious age lives in an incredibly simple world. An innocent, colourful, mostly sad place, but also a place where happiness is a mere hug away. An aesthetically brilliant and at times surreal world that's too evocative for words and can be used as a huge spiked club to crush cynicism with. A world of wonder and surprise that makes sense in a way only the nonsensical tropes of adventure gaming would allow it to.
Solving puzzles is not something that's been bolted on Dropsy to provide the gameplay. Far from it. They are integral in exploring the game and understanding its characters. Difficult though many of them might be and despite the obscurity of your in-game goals, solving things and progressing provides a deep sense of satisfaction, that, if I remember correctly, feels a bit like the rare breed of satisfaction we used to experience as kids when figuring things out.
And as almost each and every puzzle in this wonderful game --from helping a stranded alien to coming up with medicine for Dropsy's dad-- does involve overcoming people's discomfort and being incredibly nice to them, solving puzzles and getting your hug is incredibly rewarding. As is Dropsy. And his animal companions.