Time To Come Out Of Your Shell In DROS

United we stand: you need a shell, I need some more oompf to get that elusive shell... an unlikely pair in DROS - out now on Steam.

Give me a review code, and I’ll review your game. Super. After playing DROS during the Steam Next Fest, I immediately added it to my wishlist, intent on purchasing it upon its release date. Alas, ’tis was a game for me, so there wasn’t much in the way of urgency to ‘get it done’. That is until a review code arrived in my inbox.

To say I was happy to receive the code was an understatement as this isometric puzzler from emergeWorlds was an enjoyable experience, and, considering it was on my Steam wishlist, a game I was eager to play. Unnecessary exposition done; what about the game?

In DROS, you play two characters: the Captain and the titular Little Dros that ‘occupies’ him. Sent in to nab the Alchemist’s flute (not a euphemism), the Captain is promptly defeated and left for dead. Little Dros, a snail-like goop, must find a shell to inhabit, and the nearest thing is the soldier. An unlikely friendship occurs, and the two set off to defeat the wrong ‘un, save the day, and return home in time for cake and lemonade.

DROS - Stop eyeballing me mister
Stop eyeballing me, mister. Source: Steam

DROS Review (PC)

DROS isn’t a two-player co-op, so expect to swap back and forth between the characters, utilising their unique abilities to their full extent. The Captain is the bruiser of the two and will handle the combat and all things switch-related, using their body to weigh them down. Meanwhile, Little Dros, the brains behind the duo, jumps out of the Captain’s body to get through nooks and crannies, hit switches, and scope out the area.

Little Dros is virtually keeping the soldier alive, and each time you leave his body, the Captain becomes inanimate. With a quick press of one of the keys/buttons, Little Dros will return to the body, moving the Captain through a doorway, getting him onto a platform, slashing an enemy, or returning home for tea. 

Putting the emphasis on strengths and weaknesses, Little Dros is the more agile character, using double jumps to reach all the collectables but can’t attack. Captain can attack and block against enemy Dros’, but they can’t jump. The latter can be an absolute pig when you fall off a ledge and have to sprint back. That I did not like.

DROS demo
Source: Steam

Give Me Your Best Angle

DROS is an isometric experience comparable to both Timelie and also Lightbringer. I particularly liked the visuals, and while it played great on the Steam Deck, it was even better with the settings ramped up on my brand-spanking new laptop. The DROS world has a cute steampunk vibe with vibrant, beautiful visuals.

The story is reminiscent of a Zelda yarn – defeating several guardians to reach the final boss and bring peace to the land. These narrative sequences are portrayed through two mediums: a visual novel talking head style (not voice-acted) and some beautiful, superb sketch-type animatics. Overall, the visual style was excellent and suited this narrative-driven adventure.

Once you grasp each stage, that’s not the end for DROS. Besides completing the story, each level has many collectables to obtain, plus some speed-running opportunities. I’m not a fan of the latter, especially when falling off a ledge with the Captain. That said, the core gameplay is decent and will keep you out of mischief for a fair amount of time.

Verdict

Was DROS worth it in the end? Yes, I think so. The classic story of two completely different characters joining forces, only to realise that they want the same thing and are more like each other than they first thought, is timeless. The combined efforts of sneaky pipe-sliding and brute force go hand-in-hand, and it helps that it’s so well-presented.