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SummaryA good murder mystery with some problems.
The GoodThe game takes place in a dystopian city state which works very well. The background lore is interesting and the oppressing atmosphere can always be felt without becoming too heavy-handed. I was also impressed by the parallels to current events in the USA at the time of this writing (early 2021) despite the game being released in 2019.
The main mystery is very captivating; I was directly hooked and wanted to know how the situations will play out. I probably don't have the whole picture because I only got one ending (more on that later), but I still feel the revelations and plot twists gave a satisfying solution. The frequent choices have a big impact on the story and - at least the ones I experienced - never feel arbitrary or unimportant.
In comparison to most other games with heavy visual novel elements, the game never becomes too long-winded. The dialogue is always on the point and the length of eight hours (for one playthrough) is exactly right for the told story.
The BadWhile the plot is good, the biggest weakness is the dialogue. I wouldn't say it is badly written, but it always feels slightly off. I am used to that feeling because I played many Japanese visual novels, but Dry Drowning is different. This is probably because it was translated from Italian.
I did not enjoy the puzzles, e.g. working out a code for opening a safe. They are easy, but don't quite fit the story and feel tacked-on. Fortunately there are only a small handful of those to be solved and the second puzzle mechanic, interrogations which work almost identical to opening memory locks in the Ace Attorney series, is fun.
Later in the game the player will learn more about the past of the protagonist and his girlfriend/assistant. I can't go into the details because of spoilers, but this part of the story did not work for me. The reasons for their past actions did not make sense and came out nowhere.
Dry Drowning lacks standard features for games with Visual Novel elements. While there is an option to automatically forward text, you can't set the speed. I would consider myself a relatively fast reader and I already had problems to keep up. If you prefer a slower pace you either will miss half of many dialogue boxes or are forced to click through every one manually. More importantly there is no option to skip already read text. This means there is no easy way to experience alternative options. Normally I would have been interested in seeing the other endings, but the lack of this option kills my motivation.