Sound of Drop – fall into poison – is an HD remaster of the doujin title Shizuku no Oto from Aiueo Kompany, which includes new endings, scenarios, and CGs. I never played the original, but from what I hear it’s been given a complete overhaul. The story is a mystery with a smattering of horror, set in a strange aquarium called Manten Aquarium. An urban legend says that on the night of the full moon the Deep Sea Fish booth, which was closed down five years ago after a mysterious accident, opens and bizarre phenomena happen.
Our protagonist, Mayumi, has a connection to the aquarium – her little sister, Mari, disappeared there five years ago. She’s back for the first time since then together with her friend Himeno, but things soon take a turn for the worse as they find themselves inside the Red Manten Aquarium from the rumors where fish swim through the air and danger lurks past every door.
There are 4 true ends and 27 bad ends to unlock, so as you can imagine there are plenty of choices to make. I always appreciate VN that “reward” you for finishing by unlocking previously inaccessible routes, and you get that here along with the fun of going for every death scene. While this grants a lot of replayability the game isn’t overly long, clocking in at around 8 hours of total playtime for me. I actually would have been happy to spend more time wandering around the aquarium before starting to get answers as it’s a fantastic setting and appeals to my personal fear of the deep ocean *shudders*
The story is twisty-turny which is always a good thing, but later on things get a bit confusing; some of this is probably down to the original writing, however much of it might be due to the translation. If there’s one major issue I had with this game it’s that it desperately needed proofreading. The translation isn’t bad, per se, it’s just way too clunky and literal. As a translator myself I know that this can happen when you’ve been around Japanese phrasing for too long and when you’re on a deadline and don’t have time to rewrite every sentence until it’s perfect. But this is what a good editor is for, to smooth over the rough patches and make the text flow naturally in English. It’s a fine balance between keeping close to the original Japanese while having the English be polished and natural, and I’m afraid that balance hasn’t been found here. That being said, it’s still an incredibly engaging story and the translation is perfectly adequate for enjoying it.
As a protagonist, Mayumi is fairly generic and weak-willed, but we get to see her grow over the course of the game and step up to the plate. It’s a good feeling when we finally start to see her take control of the situation. The main focus of the game is on Mayumi’s relationship with her sister Mari, but her boisterous best friend Himeno also plays a big part and becomes the focus of some tough choices for Mayu. She’ll meet a few other characters along the way, too, although they won’t all be quite what they seem.
The character sprites are nice with the girls looking cute without being overly moe. Some of the CGs are gorgeous, particularly the ones involving the ocean, although the overall art quality is somewhat uneven. The blue-tinged backgrounds in conjunction with the music and sound perfectly enhance the eerie atmosphere and are create the sense of uneasiness that permeates the whole game to great effect.
While I have pointed out some flaws above, overall I was very satisfied with this visual novel and it made for great Halloween playing. The way the mystery is teased out ensures you’ll keep coming back to Manten Aquarium to find answers, no matter how many terrifying bad ends you encounter. Halloween might be over now, but I’d still recommend it for a dark, cold winter night when you want something spooky but not too traumatising.