Drowning – Review

  • Developer: Polygonal Wolf
  • Publisher: Sometimes You
  • Release Date: 1/31/2019
  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Reviewed on: PS4 Pro
  • Review code was provided

Drowning is a short indie game that aims to shine a light on what it can be like for individuals that suffer from depression. Several other games in recent years have been made with the purpose of putting players in the shoes of someone suffering from different types of mental illness. Hellblade and The Town of Light are examples of other titles that have been successful in this endeavor.

Drowning places you in the role of a high school student that is wrestling with depression. The story unfolds as you are placed in different environments and walk forward through them as text appears on the screen in front of you. As you walk (or sprint) through the game, the narrative continues to get deeper and more of what this young person is going through is literally laid out in front of you accompanied by a selection of music that perfectly suits each environment.

While I do not suffer from depression myself, it is something that several people close to me deal everyday. There are segments of Drowning where the narrative was very close to the experiences that many of the people I care about share with me. By the end of the game actually found myself wondering what I could do to better help those around me that struggle with depression. Was I was being a good enough listener in those times where they just needed to vent? It was a pretty heavy experience that others playing the game may not share but I think anyone that gives this game a playthrough will at least gain a better understanding of what depression can feel like to people that are trying to come to terms with it.

With all of that said, Drowning has a few issues that pulled me away from the experience just a bit. The games environments are described as low poly but the pop up that happens with trees in the wooded areas is downright jarring, After a while it was all I could focus on until the next area began. There are also a few typos* here and there but nowhere near as bad as the randomly appearing trees.

*an update to fix the game’s typos was released as I was writing this

Overall, Drowning is pretty decent if you are a fan of walking, adventure games such as Dear Esther and Gone Home although it isn’t quite as pretty as either one of those games. It is short and can be completed in less than an hour but multiple endings and an asking price of just $2.99 made that a bit more bearable. All of that and a Platinum Trophy made my time with Drowning more informative and enjoyable than I had anticipated.

Final Score: 6.75/10

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