Dropsy

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Dropsy Game Poster Image
Adventure about making people happy is very confusing.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Try to help everyone you can, even if they're not necessarily kind to you because of their immediate struggles. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dropsy is a being of pure love, patience, compassion, even when his environment doesn't return in kind. 

Ease of Play

There's a lot of exploring, a lot of trial and error, not a lot of guidance, hints. 

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dropsy is a downloadable adventure game that's designed to be confusing. It seems to be a game for kids, but it's more a game about the adult world seen through the eyes of a man-child. Though it pays homage to classic point-'n'-click adventure games, players really need to know how those kind of games work; this isn't a game for beginners. Your character is illiterate, which means you can't understand what anyone is saying or anything written in the world around you. You must be extremely patient to progress and make your way through this game, although it is not an extremely long game. However, this last element certainly makes for a lot more guesswork than might otherwise be called for. 

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What's it about?

In DROPSY, you play the titular clown, who awakes from a nightmare about his deceased family and wants nothing more than to make other people happy because that, in turn, makes him happy. This is never bluntly stated or explained to you: You see the dream sequence, wake up, and start wandering around the town. You find other people who also feel sad or miserable, and you do what you can to help improve their immediate demeanor and long-range outlook on life. There both is and isn't more to it than this, though any further elaboration would serve to spoil later reveals. Just know: You're a clown, doing clown-like things, though not in a circus tent, rarely performing tricks. 

Is it any good?

This is a very weird game that's simultaneously patience-trying and yet also entirely transfixing. As mentioned earlier, your character appears to be illiterate, and it's a great handicap to understanding the people and world around you: You'll see squiggles and shapes where words actually are, and people only talk to you in pictographs. The main thing you can glean from your surroundings and neighbors is that nobody seems to like you much, perhaps due to a fear or distrust of clowns -- which could allow players to read this game as a look at prejudices and stereotyping. However, that likely doesn't work either because it falls upon Dropsy to change people's minds about him, when all he did was walk around and say hello in the first place. That's part of what makes this game so very challenging and confusing, because pretty much nobody will talk to you, but there's a huge, huge world to explore and try to make sense of. 

On top of that, there's also a day/night cycle, and you can take naps at places where your companion dog -- who can access areas you can't -- can dig holes to sleep in. The purpose of this is not only to help Dropsy feel rested but also because people in the town go to different places at different times of day, so you can study their patterns and get a sense of what's missing from their lives to help them out. With a huge map and an inability to communicate with people, obviously, it just makes it hard to get your bearings. But Dropsy is also charming in a quirky way, so though it's certainly worth a try, you should be aware of its less penetrable aspects before jumping in blindly. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about appearances. Is someone who looks scary or unwelcoming always going to scare someone away? Do they want to? 

  • When should you help a stranger? When shouldn't you? Why?

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