LifeisXbox’s Drowning review | Drowning is a short game, developed and published by Sometimes You, about a boy who quickly discovers he has depression in his earlier years of high school. I did not know this game existed until the recent release for the PlayStation 5. Dealing with mental health issues myself, this game immediately spoke to me. I was very curious to see how the developers would tackle this subject, and whether or not the game would leave an impression on me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too thrilled with the results.
This is a short review, our usual the good, mixed and the bad was difficult because of the nature of this game. We played Drowning for about an hour on the Nintendo Switch. This game is also available on Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4/5/Vita.
Drowning is a walking simulator. You walk through various scenarios while text shows up in front of you. At first, there seems to be only one voice, but near the end, there will be a conversation. And that leads me to the first remark about Drowning: the conversations were confusing. Different colored text indicated two speakers, but it honestly all was a little too unclear. Now, the text itself was intriguing but it wasn’t as engaging as I wanted it to be. The typos I spotted definitely didn’t help either. I thought I would absolutely ‘enjoy’ this story, and even though some times were very recognizable, the story starting with depression as a friend, just threw me off completely. I know mental issues are very personal, but I couldn’t identify with this in the slightest and this just made me less interested.
Luckily the soundtrack was a plus, and was very heartfelt. I did miss voice acting and I just wish that there wasn’t a typing sound every time text appeared, this definitely distracted from the emotional journey. There were also some bird chirping, which made for a peaceful feeling in the beginning. I passed several waterfalls, all having the sound of falling water accompany them. However, some waterfalls just looked like a big chunk of blue instead of actual water crashing down. Even though the low poly graphics were good looking, things like this really made the whole experience ‘less real’ in a way. I did like that the scenery changed and grew grimmer as the boy grew older and his depression became worse.
Now, basically, you’ll just be following a path the entire time. This means constantly having to press down on your joystick. My thumbs felt quite sore after a while. Anyway, there are four endings to this game and it even features some achievements. Unfortunately, the Switch doesn’t have achievements so that kind of sucks, huh.
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