“The buckets have eyyyyyyes!” This was what I was writing on twitter a half hour after starting up Drip Drip. Yes, the name is really odd, and no, it has nothing to do with heroin, though it is addictive. Drip Drip is a 2D strategy game where the object is to stop leaks from flooding the basements of various buildings during bad rain storms, by catching the water drips in various containers and emptying them at intervals out of windows. This is all done in a cartoony art style, with enough weirdness and random elements to make it feel like a proper indie title.
You use various containers to catch the drips, which vary in movement speed and capacity. The pan is a small, speedy drip catcher, while the garbage can is large, but slow moving. Too many large containers and too much water falls while you’re emptying the buckets. Too many small ones and the water overflows faster than you can maintain them. Then there are hammers and brooms that allow you to repair various damage in the leaky buildings, and a sump pump to get the water out of a flooded basement. And then, just to make things interesting, you also have a “wizard” – a Sorcerer’s hat with eyes – that allows you to cast various spells, albeit at great expense.
Meanwhile, various calamities can befall your work: There are the expected broken pipes and water damaged floors, but then there are also UFOs that try to abduct your buckets, and Tiki Masks that do rain dances, causing lightning storms. These are the gameplay elements that prove developer Imminent Games understands that you have to be random to be cool.
I can see this game is really taking off on the iphone. It’s simple but challenging, and the game is balanced so that getting 4 stars is a moderate challenge, but getting five is tough. However, one star requirement, making sure all the buckets are empty at the end of the level, is frustratingly difficult to achieve, and really doesn’t say very much about your skill in drip catching. You eventually figure out the trick to it, but it’s an irritating nitpicky thing.
On the whole though, the strategy involved in the various levels is interesting. At first I didn’t see the point in the wizard hat, but it can be handy. It’s probably the least-useful tool in the whole game due to its expense, but it’s a nice Hail Mary option when you haven’t properly planned ahead.
There’s decent variation on the level maps, and while the basic concepts are simple, Drip Drip has a deceptive amount of design and depth, similar to Plants vs Zombies. The containers’ various super powers are more than worth achieving, and the primary strategy component is figuring out the ideal compromise between the capacity and speed of various items. For instance, while the garbage can might hold the most, it’s also the slowest, so positioning it at a leak too far from a window means that too much water falls on the floor as the can is being emptied. Meanwhile the pan is the fastest moving, and great when you have to temporarily catch a gushing leak, but it fills up so fast that it’s not practical as more than a stopgap. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to approach each level. Some lend themselves to one strategy more than another. The only thing I found tricky control wise was selecting the correct unit when multiple objects are stacked in the same space. I wouldn’t say it’s a programming issue as much as something that, tactically, it’s best to minimize: because it’s a 2D game, it’s sometimes difficult to click precisely on the overlapped object you’re trying to move.
The one thing that could have definitely made Drip Drip better is a better ending. While the game was likely made frugally, I was really hoping for something that rivaled the “zombie on your lawn” song that makes completing the adventure mode of PvZ so satisfying. A nod to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. A dinosaur. The UFO aliens finally getting out of their ship. Something to be a better payoff than what you get. This probably wouldn’t bug me as much if I was playing a mobile version of the game, because long endings just eat battery life, but on a PC, it seemed like something was missing, but one of my game philosophies is that a bad ending is better than a bad game, so I wasn’t too rough on Drip Drip for that one disappointment.
Another minor quibble I had was that longer audio loops for sound effects would have been nice. I had to leave the game on a summary screen to make some notes, and after twenty minutes I wanted to punch wind chimes in the face.
Overall, however, Drip Drip succeeds in being a compact distraction. It’s a cute, innocent, time-waster, and well worth the $10 price.
And no, the running water sound effects did not make me want to constantly go pee.