Sound of Drop - Fall into Poison - ReviewAmy Hazel
When was the last time that you visited the aquarium? That fantastical submerged dreamlike place where the great expanse and secrets of the ocean lie just beyond your very fingertips; where all that stand between you and the crushing beauty within is but a solitary piece of glass. Wandering the aquarium is a fun day trip for anyone and can also be both knowledgeable and relaxing all at the same time. Viewing exotic exhibits of fish and sea creatures seldom seen by human eyes in large tanks reminiscent of their true to wild homes in far off seas is magical. Beautiful backlit tanks filled with deadly jellyfish to walking through the darkest of tunnels surrounded on all sides by ever pressing water closing in while sharks and sea turtles swim carelessly overhead is a feeling one simply cannot replicate by watching even the most lifelike of documentaries. However, as amazing as these places can bewhat if things go horribly wrong? Of course, when I say things go wrong, it is horrible to think of the various fish and sea life ending up dead or mistreated or the caretakers befalling tragic accidents; but what if these misfortunes were to lead to a much deeper malice
This is exactly the core and backdrop for the horror supernatural visual novel Sound of Drop - Fall into Poison - by publisher Sekai Project. The Manten Aquarium lies within the heart of Tokyo and while it is one of the most beautiful attractions to visit the exotic sea life (and actually has become quite the romantic date spot as well of late), many urban legends have been floating around over the past five years. Stories saying that on a full moon the waters within all the tanks turn to blood, the fish take on human faces and the forever closed off deep sea fish exhibit becomes open to the public despite being closed down for unknown reasons.
So who could resist checking out these legends in person (and on a full moon, naturally!)? Obviously, not junior high school students Himeno and Mayu! Although Himeno is certainly the more enthusiastic of the two on visiting the aquarium, disappointing her best friend is the last thing Mayu wants to do so she begrudgingly agrees to meet up with her and see if the legends are really as they say.
Despite having some financial hardships previously, the aquarium is packed with people and is truly as beautiful and magical as everyone has said. The exhibits host some of the most exceptional species of fish and sea life, each with their own placard of information outside of their tank which Mayu takes in word by wordand Himeno waits as patiently as possible for her friend to move along. Everything they heard about in the stories appears to have been just that: storiesuntil Mayu catches a moments glance of her little sister, Mari, at the end of the tunnel tank the very same little sister that disappeared at Manten Aquarium five years ago. Mayu tears down the hall after her, running into passerby, crying and leaving a confused Himeno trailing behindand that is when everything dissolves into the nightmare they had been seeking.
Without ruining too much of the story, due to a horrific series of incidents five years ago, on every full moon Manten Aquarium splits itself in two: the normal area Mayu and Himeno were previously in and the Red Aquarium. The Red Aquarium is a place full of Malice where every door leads to a new deadly nightmare. A beautiful room displaying various colored tanks filled with various jellyfish both poisonous and not surrounding a room may appear just as it does normally; but when the glass on all the tanks shatter and the jellyfish litter the floor at Mayus feet, how will she get through without getting touched by any of the poisonous tentacles? What will she do when she next enters and finds the tanks filled with blood and decayed human heads in the tanks instead of the beautiful jellyfish? What about when they transcend the glass and come straight for her and the room itself fills with water? Will she escape? Will she drown? Orca Whales, Stinger fish, various other humans roaming about, Himeno, Mari, entry into the deep sea fish exhibitthe red aquarium doesnt have the play by the rules anymore. Survival is key, but at what cost?
Sound of Drop Fall into Poison is played through the point of view of Mayu as players unravel the mystery and horror of Manten Aquarium and the stories of those who are also linked to its tragic past and present. The visual novel is very well written and players will make numerous choices throughout the game to move the story towards the various endings (there are 4 true endings and 27 bad endings). Players will only have access to one of the true endings, the normal ending, on their first play through and once achieved will then unlock additional scenes and dialog which will allow progress and options to the other true endings (with a few of the bad endings hidden in there as well).
Personally, I found this game to be a great experience from start to finish. From the opening title screen, the soft piano melody drew me in and the soundtrack throughout from the opening and closing themes to everything in between really melded everything together beautifully. The anime style art was dark and fantastical from the normal dialog and background to the full CG scenes.
The story itself was everything that I love horrifying, fantastical, bloody and mysterious. It was a realistic setting with unrealistic expectations which constantly kept me on that edge of never feeling safe because anything could happen, yet it was never an unfair feeling as there was always a way out. Sometimes visual novels with a plethora of bad endings can seem somewhat disheartening as it just means it is that many more extra scenes to slog through to get to the ultimate goal; however, the bad endings in Sound of Drop are quick and to the point, they never seemed to draw out or extend their stay. A bad choice is made, a short dialog and scene is shown and then there is death and the adorable chibi bad ending scene and then you restart and move on! The choices are fairly straight forward when it comes to finding the bad endings as well so to make it easier for players to not fall back into the same trap they already tripped into previously. Choices that have a major impact on an ending choice will be highlighted in red (as opposed to non-impactful choices which have a light blue highlight). These red choices not only indicate that A. now is probably a good time to save so you can easily return and make the opposite choice next time, but B. there are normally only two choices, so one will usually lead to bad ending #X and the other will progress the story towards one of the true endings. It is a fairly straight forward system that really made it easy to see the entire story without slogging through repeated choices or endings unnecessarily. Cheers to that!
The story, art and soundtrack of this title definitely make this one I would recommend to anyone that is a fan of the genre or even someone just looking for a great story to pass some time (after all, visual novels are pretty much interactive books)! Using the fast forward feature to speed past text already read and utilizing the save feature at pivotal choices resulted in my finishing playtime for 100% at just about 10 hours (give or take any afk time).
So delve into the dark secrets hidden within the depths of Manten Aquarium. Perhaps, your local aquarium even has some secrets of its owncare to find out?
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
Just a happy-go-lucky girl working in the gaming industry and spending nearly all her spare time writing, recording music, working on cosplay, watching anime and horror movies, and trying not to obsess over getting that 100% completion rating on every game she touches.
About the Author: Amy Hazel
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