Words About Video Games

Dropsy's Big Heart

Dropsy is a fable about a character who is maligned by the world, but finds the capacity to go on loving and forgiving in spite of being feared, hated, and ostracized. It is a rejection of what so many games are about--power, violence, control.

The brilliance of the game is that all of this is communicated through the play, through the strange way Dropsy perceives and interacts with his world. The town is full of struggling, unhappy people who blame Dropsy for their pain. He makes an easy scapegoat--he looks and acts strange, frightening even. And without language, he sees their needs and meets them where they are. He doesn't always succeed at winning them over, but that's not why he does it.

As lean and full of forward-moving momentum as Resonance is, Dropsy is meandering. It wants you to explore, to dwell in the needs of the people in the town and remember them as you stumble on solutions. It's a structure that could have gone horribly wrong, but it works, tying a series of disconnected anecdotes together into a singular journey. I know that I still haven't discovered all there is to find, or hugged everyone there is to hug.

I spoke to the game's designer, Jay Tholen, briefly at Adventurexpo. He asked me what I thought of the ending; if I thought it was a cop-out. I didn't, and I still don't. I won't spoil anything, but I think the ending puts a cap on the themes of difference and miscommunication at the heart of Dropsy's journey. Above all, it celebrates the role of the outsider and the outcast, the person whose ability to help stems from his ability to see the world through different eyes from our own.

We could use more stories like it. That, and hugs.