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STUDIO V
presents
DRY DROWNING: Is every happy ending a lie ?

 

DRY DROWNING begins with an eeriness of wispy smoke and darkness designed to create a scary atmosphere. As images, black & white and out of focus, fade onto and out of the screen conjuring thoughts of old style horror movies, you are asked some fetching questions, such as "What are you scared of? ... Loneliness? Death? Failure?" you wonder what is in store for you. 

This takes place in 2066 in and around the City of Nova Polemos where all citizens take the five year test known as the Patterson Test. But back to the beginning of the game and what you know to begin with - nothing! You soon discover that the main character is Mordred Foley and you, along with Hera Kairis, operate the Foley Investigations Detective Agency. Foley is aged 45 while Hera is 35. There isn't a lot known about Foley and the scarce details on Hera proclaim that she is of Greek descent and that she plays the piano.

 

The story for this game unveils via conversations, mainly between Foley and the other characters as they are discovered, again mainly through conversations. We soon learn that there is quite a lot of animosity between Foley and the local Detective Profiler, Freya Goldsoul who is also the daughter of a prominent Banker and, one wonders, possibly an ex-flame of Mordreds. I haven't found any actual proof or clues about them being exe's but the enmity between them is thick enough to cut with a knife.

At the game's locations Foley slides (literally a cut-out style picture of him) in from the left and a swirling cursor is there for you to move around the screen until you discover a hotspot, at which the cursor expands and pulses. Clicking on the cursor will allow you to examine whatever it is you are looking at. It's worth noting that the 'grammar police' can have a field day with the spelling errors and omission of words from sentences so if wrongful use of words ('Draw' instead of 'Drawer' for example) then I suggest you either give this game a miss (which would be a shame as it is worth playing) or you turn a blind eye (grit your teeth and bear it) and carry on.

 

Early doors we discover that the Foley Detective Agency has a poor reputation due to Mordred assisting in the trial, possibly falsifying evidence, verdict and eventual execution of two 'murderers', collectively known as Pandora, who, after their deaths, were found to be possibly innocent. Foley is convinced he was correct in his assumption the pair were guilty but his professional integrity was called into doubt and now he is struggling to make a living.

The City of Nova Polemos was built many years ago by the affluent Canburry family in a corner of Northern Europe. It grew exponentially and is now regarded by its citizens as a small but important country. 

Treasury Park is by name and nature a 'National Treasure' of Nova Polemos so not long after a girls half-nude body is discovered tied provocatively to a tree there Mordred receives a visit from Julia Ward the PA of Richard Baker an ex-mobster who is now the political Black Bands, party leader. The dead girl is Mr Baker's lover, Alicia Hart and Baker is prime suspect as he was discovered at the scene, a bit groggy but enough for the police, especially Freya, to be more than interested in him.

 

There was an eye-witness to some of what went on in the woods, one Abigail Sherman who just happens to be the sister of Baker's current wife. Mordred's job for Julia Ward is to clear Baker's name at all/any costs and while doing so he can earn a pretty penny and possibly clear his integrity, name and reputation at the same time - the stakes are indeed quite high.

At the top of the screen there are several icons, some on the left top and some on the right top, these being the actions you can take as Mordred and include being able to Save/Load/Exit; Speak, Examine, Inventory etc. etc. all the regular/expected actions.

Wherever Mordred goes he keeps in touch with Hera, back at the office, via a body camera and audio (probably the 2066 version of bluetooth). He can ask her to check things, get her advice plus she can ask questions of folk encountered. Often when you get to question someone you have a choice of what to say or do and your choice makes a difference to the direction the game proceeds in.

 

This is what is nowadays called a psychological thriller with more than a touch of the supernatural about it. Mordred has an ability that is both wonderful and frightening; if somebody lies to him he 'sees' them to be wearing a grotesque mask, not always the same creature but generally fierce and daunting. Sometimes it is up to you whether you confront the liar while other times it is automatic. Speaking of 'automatic' when you reach certain points in your inquiries any useless rubbish you have collected in your inventory is automatically deleted.

The murder of Alicia Hart is terrifyingly described, enough to make the hairs on your arms to rise. She has had her throat cut, stripped naked and tied to a tree with her hands high above her head. Then she has been stabbed through where the throat is cut by a large heavy metallic arrow (discovered to be lead - so amazingly heavy), and her hair arranged deliberately over her chest to drape seductively over the breasts and to hide the nipples. Around her feet, ankles and legs some specific flowers have been deliberately positioned; higher up, from thighs to waist she has been covered with some type of cloth. Everything points to some kind of ritual killing and everything also points to the Pandora murderer. There is more detail of the crime, a fair amount more and a lot more gruesome and grisly, but I think I have got the point over.

 

I cannot say I am a fan of the way the game's visual mechanics work, with character cut-outs being slid onto and off of the detailed location. Text/vocal conversations can be clicked through at your own acceptable speed, but do read them all, don't skip read as they often contain hints, clues, new locations and names etc. Sadly this is one of those adventure games where if you speak to a character again, unless something else has pushed you back to them, they continually repeat the same answers to your questions time and over. Another regular feature of this game genre is that the new names and locations appear on your map automatically so you can click on them to visit whenever you feel the need, you also keep a ledger that is auto-written as things occur.

As stated I don't particularly like the animation, what there is of it, but the story itself is so intriguing, unusual and addictive that the lack of any decent action does nothing to keep me away from it. I think I have a fair way to go to complete the mystery, but I do believe have gone far enough into it to be able to give my impressions. If what you want is an animated point and click adventure this isn't it. If however the background story is the most important part of the game for you then this will not let you down. It is a mystery within a myth within a mystery.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015