This week I discovered a great game while trawling through the Humble Bundle store, and despite my ever-growing library of unplayed games (and my ever-growing queue of undone work), I felt an urge to immediately dive into this one. I was rewarded with immediate feelings of sadness, self-loathing, and an urge to hug the nearest clown, despite the creepy-crawlies that clowns induce in me.
I suspect that a large percentage of the world’s population fears clowns, and that this game was designed to make people feel guilty about their fears and prejudices by having them play as a bedraggled representative of the clown species, the eponymous Dropsy.
Dropsy deals with relevant societal issues.
Dropsy looks horrifying, like something out of a scary-clown movie (do any other types of clown movies exist?). At first, I suspected that this would be a game where the goal was to scare as many people as possible, but I was pleasantly surprised (and then immediately consumed with guilt) to find that Dropsy just wants to hug people, and I mean that in the nicest, non-perverted way possible.
Can hugs make portable toilets happy as well? Dropsy is willing to try!
The game plays like a fairly standard point and click adventure where you gather items, put items with other items, move items, and give items to people, but with a few twists. Dropsy cannot understand language very well, and I suspect that he cannot speak either, for the dialogue throughout the game is represented entirely by pictures. However, Dropsy still wishes to make everyone happy, either through hugs or solving problems. One of the mini-goals of the game is to make as many people happy as possible by hugging them. Dropsy also has a knack for befriending animals, who then help him on his quest to perform random tasks.
The lack of dialogue and the process of learning Dropsy’s way of thinking (interpreting the dialogue pictures) essentially sets the tone for the entire game. Dropsy lives a sad, sad life, and most others around him seem to as well. I’ve never related to a clown so closely before in my life, and while I certainly never wish to do that again, I admire the game’s designers for their ability to make a game about a clown relay some poignant messages about human communication and difference.
We all have a little bit (or maybe a lot) of Dropsy in us.