Drag Star!

by Evan J. Peterson

Slice of life, Humor

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An exceptional mystery story mixed with zany reality show, February 27, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

I don't know much about drag culture, although I have friends and family members who are or have been drag performers. This game was a real eye opener for me, and I ended up learning a lot more about things like Drag Race, drag queens, faux queens, etc.

I went back and forth a lot on the rating here. I really don't like the first chapter. It's a huge bombardment of concepts, people, very stylized writing, that just felt like so much. I'm sure it'd be less overwhelming to someone already familiar with drag culture, but for me it felt like I was reading some fantasy book where the author spends the first chapter introducing all the kingdoms and using new words they made up ('and the hrothgus, or town constable, rode forth on his vytnrewr, an insect-like steed). Take that, and make it a sassy drag queen version.

It also ran into Poe's law a bit in that chapter, where I couldn't tell if was portraying drag accurately or mocking it/parodying it, it was just so over the top.

Fortunately, it calms down a lot in the later chapters, and becomes a story about people and what was for me an excellent, compelling mystery, one where, even having solved it, I'd love to go back around and dig in to find out more motives, more background, more viewpoints. The drag queen aspects themselves became more thoughtful, funny, and pointed. The characters were complex and rich.

Another reason I thought of knocking it down a peg is the humor. Not because it isn't funny; it has plenty of lines. But in this fictional world, these are top-tier meme makers, comedians and dramatists putting out their best efforts, and while the author is genuinely funny or dramatic, sometimes seeing the writing and having the audience (or the narrator) say 'this is the funniest thing I've ever had' just kind of falls flat.

But a point in its favor is that the game manages stats well. I always knew what each stat did, had plenty of chances at the beginning to increase them, and basically didn't fail any stat checks till near the end where my particular mix didn't hold up (smart, funny, confident).

Now, I know that makes it sound like the game is 'too easy', but the real game is in strategizing between cooperating vs going solo, investigating the mystery vs preparing for the competition, sabotaging people or helping them when they are potential rivals and potential future judges, and deciding what to do with the seemingly cult-like abbey.

At the end, I felt somewhat uncomfortable recommending this game to general audiences as it has some raunchy and sexual material (almost all in jokes and skits), as well as frequent opportunities for drug use or binge drinking (you are a recovering addict). But I can't deny the overall quality of the game, and I'm putting the mention of those things here so that you can get an idea before you play.

Edit: having played through it now, I can see why it doesn't have a ton of ratings on the omnibus app but has one of the highest ratings. The offputting first chapter may have kept people away, but the solid remaining portion of the game probably led to higher scores. Also, people went out of their way to rate it highly in opposition to a campaign by trolls against the game.