The main goal is your quest through the town to clear the negative stigma attached to your name after the circus fire, something that’s admittedly been tough to do as you now inhabit the fire-scarred big top in abject poverty and insist on painting your face up like the most terrifying clown since Tim Curry’s Pennywise. Beyond your investigation into the mystery behind the fire you’re also going to spend a lot of your time currying favour with the townsfolk and using the abilities of your growing ball of animal companions to try to brighten a few days.
I think the open world works against it in many cases. Combined with the day/night cycle and the fact certain actions are only available at different times means there’s puzzle overload and finding solutions can be tough when you’re pixel hunting on 20 different scenes. Thankfully the game delivers a fast-travel system in the form of a clown car just as I was getting sick of walking back and forth everywhere to try new solutions. One particularly challenge involved you using a mouse to crawl into a poorly signposted crack and then moving past that into a different area (but only during the night) to hit a certain button. If i’d found the hole during the daytime it would have made no sense and I probably would have overlooked it. I often chew games out for a lack of signposting, but here with the big open world? It would have been valuable.
The puzzles themselves can often veer off into the obtuse, causing frustration. I only got seriously stuck once, although I did struggle with several of the solutions, often due to a lack of lateral thinking on my part. The biggest aspect of confusion for me was the games symbol-based communication. I’ve always struggled with nonverbal communication personally so perhaps it’s just me, but I had a lot of trouble discerning what was expected of me in the early game before I learnt Dropsy’s curious language.
There’s a few collectible tapes to be found that are of the game's’ soundtrack however the tapes look like standard hidden items and the first one you encounter also functions as a puzzle solution, so they’re basically gigantic red herrings. The revelation that they’re actually just recordings of the same inoffensively bland tunes that’ve been following you through countless screens is a bitter pill to swallow.
By and large, I’ve enjoyed Dropsy. It falls into many of the classic adventure game pitfalls but It’s a testament to the games character that I’ve managed to enjoy it anyway. There’s a lot of charm and spirit here, and at the current price (£6.99) you would be a clown not to pick it up.