Prior to learning of the existence of Dewdrop Dynasty, I would have never imagined a scenario in which you play as a bee with a gun would fit well into the search-action (metroidvania) genre. Thankfully, the game’s demo has given me hope in a future in which the world’s worst insect carrying America’s most debated-upon tool can prove to be a fun venture. Have I mentioned that I despise bees?
“Run, dash, and crawl your way through a fast, Metroidvania. Battle with giant bosses, find new guns and abilities, meet quirky characters, and most importantly find your way home.”
In the process of finding a trailer for the game, I’ve come to discover that the individual behind the development of this game is actually a fairly large YouTuber, with close to 90k subscribers (and videos with view counts exceeding 100k). They’ve also made a decent collection of other games. (This has nothing to do with reviewing Dewdrop. I just like random asides.)
Back on schedule, what may immediately greet potential players about this game is that its pixel-artistry is more on the simple side. Lots of blocky, simplistic environments with brightly colored objects to make things more visibly apparent. While I do not personally take issue with this, there are those that may look at this and think of ye olde days of when the Atari was all the rage, prompting a “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Like a mix of Renaine and Ruination, it appeals more to a vision of minimalism that can have its perks. Things are clearly marked as dangerous, of interest, interactable, and otherwise, though not in a way that mocks the intelligence of the player, which I like. Much is left to the imagination of the player, if not already detailed by text onscreen. The player character is more than visible enough and their bullets, too, provide all evidence necessary to gauge range and power.
Environmentally, however, I feel it lacks quite a bit, at least within the confines of the demo. One starts off in what appears to be an underground mine. As such, there is a lot of darkness in the background and brown practically everywhere. One will see almost nothing but dark browns and blacks and muted colors for the duration of its entirety. Bland to look at and slightly easy to get lost in, if not for an adequately detailed map.
Still, this is no art project. Its merit as a game follows more closely to its adherence to its genre and gameplay mechanics. Fortunately, it’s pretty fun.
Dewdrop Dynasty has a sort of strange sense of humor. You play as a bee, but it does not have wings. It cannot fly. To alleviate this motor weakness, they’re provided with a gun. This seems strange to those untrained with the art of creativity—what they cannot see is the opportunity for absurdity this provides.
Your weapon also acts as a double and triple jump. These jumps are not substantial, mind you, though the design of the environment necessitates that you learn to use your unlimited-ammo killing machine like an impromptu jetpack. All throughout rooms are layers and suspended platforms that are just out of reach for a single jump. Shooting downwards at the appropriate timing, however, propels you just enough to reach most things. It adds a layer of importance to timing and movement that is actually quite clever.
As a small nitpick, though, one is only provided two bullets at a time, which reload upon running out. I’m not 100% sure if there is a dedicated reload button (never tested to see), but one would be nice specifically for platforming. Sometimes there’s a gap that can only be traversed using two bullets. I don’t realize I only have one bullet loaded, so I jump, find out too late, and bumble down to the bottom of a room. This happened enough to turn it from comedic accident to genuine irritation.
Combat is also slightly clunky. Enemies typically just move back and forth (including the boss) and take a decent number of bullets to have explode. There is a dodge button, only I found it more efficient to simply jump over enemies and shoot them from above… or just tank hits and shoot point-blank. Over the course of the demo, I was a lot more fond of simply traversing the environment and finding secret goodies as opposed to fighting things.
Speaking of absurdity, eating cheese gives you the ability to crawl. That is a genuine power-up in this game. If the idea of a bee with a gun wasn’t enough to give you a glimpse of the game’s sense of humor, that should do.
One final thing I’ll note is the soundtrack and a sound effect. The former feels so heavily inspired by Paper Mario that I genuinely wondered if the electronic instrumentation was ripped straight from it. (Probably not a coincidence that it’s inspired by it.) The boss theme was also fairly inspired, making what was an otherwise simple (but tough) fight all the more memorable.
And then you get a specific upgrade that makes a big boom whenever you use it. Always satisfying.
Very solid effort, even if the demo was slightly on the shorter side (about 35 minutes of content). What I’m most looking forward to is seeing the variety of environments that could come in the future, because the demo was pretty same-y to a detrimental degree. Otherwise, there’s enough present to give Dewdrop Dynasty a sort of quirky charm, if the search-action adherence doesn’t immediately hook you from the start. I like what I like.
Dewdrop Dynasty has a demo you can play now on Steam. (Link under “Game Summary.”) It is also live on Kickstarter as of this writing.
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Thank you for your time. Have a great rest of your day.