By: Justin Hobley
Sound of Drop – fall into poison – is a horror themed visual novel title by aiueoKompany, released on Steam last by Sekai Project for Windows, Linux, and Mac users to equally enjoy.
The controls for Sound of Drop are fairly simplistic, relying on the space bar, mouse wheel or left mouse button to advance the story, and the right mouse button to access the in-game menu for saving or loading your progress. The cursor arrows on a keyboard can be used to navigate on-screen selections, making the game playable without completely relying on your mouse.
There are no configuration options that would allow players to re-bind keys to a favored configuration, if they would prefer to play with only the keyboard.
The visuals of Sound of Drop are silky smooth and fit well with the story on screen. As Sound of Drop tells its story, the images are vivid and presented with a style befitting the progressing story. The tone of the story is kept on track with these pictures, leading to an edge of the seat sensation as your investigation progresses.
The sound effects are also fairly balanced, with appropriate noises as events happen. Surprisingly loud audio events are also used to unsettle the player as they progress.
The music was mostly bland and uninteresting, and it struggled to deliver the same mood enhancements the sound effects did while exploring the aquarium. The short audio clips used for music do loop smoothly, but each piece is very short overall — ranging from 30-90 seconds — encouraging players to not linger in one part of the story.
Your story begins with a warning of gruesome content and a chance to turn back. Failing to turn the player away from Sound of Drop, it leads into pair of school-aged ladies discussing the creepy stories that surround the Manten Aquarium, such as fish with human faces, tanks of water that turn to blood and people going missing after visiting. Our protagonist, Mayumi, is a soft-spoken girl that expresses some dread at visiting the aquarium with her friend Himeno after hearing these tales.
Succumbing to the pressure put upon her by said friend, however, the two visit this supposedly haunted aquarium in the middle of a very busy high rise in the city of Manten. As Mayumi and Himeno explore the aquarium, unsettling events happen that defy what players know about time and space, providing strength to the growing vibe of unease Sound of Drop attempts to instill.
At points, the game builds enough tension to leave players worried that something is going to jump out at them, screaming at the top of its lungs. That type of tension carries on throughout Sound of Drop, thanks to strong world building.
That strength is further proven as deeply repressed feelings from each character you encounter bubbles to the surface, such as the true reason for Mayumi’s reluctance to visit Manten Aquarium, or Himeno’s real sentiments about our protagonist.
Very little levity is introduced throughout the story, which keeps everything grounded in what little reality exists when viewed through Mayumi’s eyes as you wander the dank, dark corridors of the aquarium.
There were points where Sound of Drop made it very obvious that a choice could result in your death, rather than obscuring it until you’ve blundered yourself to pieces. There is no option to turn off this type of handholding.
Getting past that, though, one perk to look forward to is completing the game, and then restarting to get the rest of the story out of Sound of Drop. Instead of immediately repeating the beginning, players are treated to a story divergence that does a great job of adding more atmosphere to the replay.
This being said, I feel that someone rushed through the script without checking it carefully. Sound of Drop is fond of punishing the player with “Bad End” cases for jumping the gun. My thoughts here are inspired by that very concept: there were several cases of incorrectly used words throughout the storyline, which breaks immersion for avid readers.
While annoying, it doesn’t cause a game-breaking issue. Ideally, this is the type of issue that can be fixed by a simple update through Steam.
Sound of Drop – fall into poison – is, by and large, a grand effort at storytelling, with plenty of divergent paths and possibilities of failure with appropriate punishment for rushing in without thinking. It makes for a spooky evening jaunt that may change the way you view aquarium visits in the future. Sekai Project’s work in localizing this for an English speaking market is certainly appreciated and quite welcome.