A friend once explained to me her reaction on seeing the latest David Lynch movie this way: "I had no idea what was going on but I loved every minute of it." That's not to say you need to be a David Lynch fan to like The Drowned God. But it probably wouldn't hurt. This is one of the most phantasmagoric, wild, off the wall adventure games I have ever played. It was released in 1996 by Inscape, the same folks who gave us The Dark Eye and Bad Day On the Midway. And if you know anything about those games let that be your first clue as to what the Drowned God is about.
And what it is about is what it is about. And if that last sentence didn't make any sense, just wait till you play this game. If you're looking for a lucid, cogent plot (or any plot at all!), well defined character development and a recognizable goal to achieve, The Drowned God might not be for you. If you're in the mood to immerse yourself in a distinctive visual style, great music, pro-level voice acting and writing, addictive, hypnotic first person game play, then you're in luck. This is not to say that The Drowned God throws all tradition out the window. There are puzzles. Boy are there puzzles. Especially the "push the little dots around on a patterned surface until you win" variety, (the developers really liked these, they are everywhere, on walls, inside computers, on the back of chairs…well you get the idea.) Some of the puzzles in Drowned God are devilishly hard. In one, Nine Men Morris, you take on the computer itself and good luck is all I have to say. In another, you play a difficult and rigged board game with an abusive, drunken Templar Knight. I finally won and as Mr. Sunshine fell asleep in his chair, instead of advancing through the newly opened portal I started looking around for a heavy blunt object with which to beat his brains out. Nothing would move though and off I went. Would have been a nice Easter egg, that heavy drinking cup suddenly popping into inventory, heh, heh, heh.
Ah, but I haven't disclosed the full title. It is The Drowned God, Conspiracy of the Ages. The conspiracy is the thing, see. There's Isis and Osiris and the Philadelphia experiment and Atlantis and Roswell and Star Wars and the Four Corners area and the assassination of JFK and Stonehenge and alien breeding programs and Edgar Cayce and mysterious ights in the sky and abductions and the Grays and Egypt and the Bermuda Triangle and the Holy Grail and on and on. If all this sounds familiar, it is. The X-files TV show of course, and countless other adventure games have used these themes to varying degrees of success. But I don't think I've ever seen such a single-minded attempt to try and weld all this together into a unified theory as in The Drowned God. There is real paranoia in this game, in the writing, in the game play, in the puzzle construction, in the look, (hundreds of hours must have been lavished on the visual minutiae). Near the end, the game actually comments on this. You are in a diner, dialing through the channels on a very strange radio when you hear a voice explaining how people who follow all these theories and try to tie them all up together eventually go mad trying.
I went a little mad playing this game. But a good, fun mad. I quickly gave up trying to make sense of it all and that's probably the best advice I can give you. Don't worry about making heads or tails of this beautiful beast. Just pop it in the old D drive on a clear night when the heavens are trasmitting and enjoy.
Tech stuff: It's mouse driven, installed in a few seconds on my Windows 98 system and ran great until the third disk which was buggy as all get out. I've read about the buggy third disk in other places too so be aware of this. You'll also want to download and install the three patches for this game. There are only 6 save slots, something that didn't bother me too much but if you want to keep all your saved games (with some of these puzzles, you might) you'll have to rename and move the files after every 6 saves. Display looks best at 640X480. There is an excellent walkthrough by George K. Ison right here on Gameboomers. The puzzle solutions are especially lucid and clearly written.