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Video Game / I Cannot Drown

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Ume and one of the mermaids she meets.

I Cannot Drown is a Yume Nikki fangame by Pureiceblue in the RPG Maker MV engine. The game was originally made for Dream Diary Jam 3 on and then updated in 2020 for Dream Diary Jam 4. In August 2021 it got it's 1.0.0 update as well as uploads to Newgrounds and Gamejolt.

The game can be played and downloaded from, Newgrounds, and Game Jolt.

I Cannot Drown follows a woman named Ume who is in a monochrome cave alongside a rabbit, a red ball, and two holes. She receives a letter from someone known as Fu, who tells her that in order to escape the cave, she needs to go deeper and find all the effects. Like in Yume Nikki, Ume can collect a variety of abilities known as “effects” that change her appearance and allow her to interact with the world in different ways. Alongside effects, players can also find various body parts scattered throughout the various areas known as “parts”.


I Cannot Drown contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewer area contains large tunnels as well as a hot spring.
  • Addressing the Player: Ume lets her appreciation for the players known through a coded message in the changelogs.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Nothing is solidly given for the game’s plot other than the description found on the game’s page. Version 0.03 develops the plot further, but still leaves several aspects up in the air.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Multiple living umbrellas and lanterns can be found throughout various areas.
  • Ash Face: How Ume appears in the overworld while using the burning effect. Her true appearance in the menu is much more disturbing.
  • Back for the Finale: Both Fuku and the Pink Lady return in the Coming Revival ending if they are encountered beforehand in the playthrough.
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  • Bloodier and Gorier: Compared to Yume Nikki, I Cannot Drown contains far more bloodier content including the Hunger effect, the menu graphic for the Burning effect, an event where Ume gets run over by a truck, the option to disembowel a mermaid, and a variety of of other disturbing areas.
  • Body Horror: Common throughout the game with multiple examples.
    • The Hunger effect gives Ume more arms, hands, and breasts, additionally making parts of her body bleed.
    • The Fungus effect causes many different types of fungi to sprout from Ume’s body as well as form holes in her skin.
    • The Higanbana effect replaces Ume’s head with a giant red spider lily.
    • The pink haired lady inside the sea floor portal seems to have large amounts of coral protruding from her body as she’s suspended upside down. This is shown in more detail up close.
    • By using the Mask effect in the woman’s bathroom, an npc can be found with no head and a flailing red arm coming out of her neck hole.
  • Body Motifs: Throughout the red spider lily field are multiple large human hands that stick out of the ground.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: One area has large photos of centipedes and other bugs throughout the hall.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Ume initially gained immortality from eating mermaids.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: The fittingly named Smile effect gives Ume one of her own.
  • Color Motif: Red, black, and white are the only three colors seen in the game with the exception of the pink haired lady.
  • Cool Mask: The Mask effect gives Ume a Noh mask that reveals hidden objects. The gasmask stalker also sports a gasmask.
  • Creepy Basement: A basement can be found in the lake filled with flowerpots. These pots have human hands sticking out of them.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Players can find a snowy cemetery with insulting names covering the grave markers.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: The only way to access the pink-haired lady's room is to kill the beach mermaid first.
  • Cyclops: On the train and in the art gallery are npcs that are bald and only have one large blinking eye.
  • Cult: The Coming Revival ending reveals an entire cult devoted to Ume in the physical world.
  • Darker and Edgier: The amount of gore and body horror gives I Cannot Drown a much darker atmosphere compared to Yume Nikki.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: I Cannot Drown is mostly black and white with the only color being red.
  • Downer Ending: Two of the three endings don't leave off on a happy note. The Her Memory ending has Ume brutally killed by Memory of Ivy before being forced to go through the entire game all over again. The Coming Revival ending meanwhile has Ume revived as a skeleton by her followers with mermaids ready to be killed and eaten.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Ume must literally go down a hole in order to go through the various worlds.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: While none of the endings can be considered happy, collecting all of the effects and parts results in Ume's revival in the physical world, allowing her soul to escape from her prison after hundreds of years.
  • Escape Rope: The Smile effect brings players back to the Nexus without needing to go through the cave again.
  • The Faceless: The face of the gas mask stalker is never seen, even in the closeup shot if it catches up to Ume.
  • Flashback: South of the house in the snow world is a child version of Ume, implying the snow world is where she grew up.
  • Floral Motifs: Red spider lilies can be found in multiple locations from being on Ume’s obi by default, being the theme of the red spider lily field world, and one replacing her head while using the Higanbana effect. These flowers are used as a symbol for death in the Japanese language of flowers.
  • Fungus Humongous: The mushroom world is filled with giant mushrooms.
  • Godiva Hair: The Ama effect leaves Ume topless, with only her hair covering her breasts.
  • Golden Ending: Gotten by getting all of the Effects, Parts, and meeting all of the special npcs.
  • Good All Along: The Pink Lady was meant to keep Ume inside her prison so that she could no longer harm others in the physical world.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The endings are dependent on the collection of the effects and the parts.
  • Gorn: There is a lot to be found throughout the game.
    • The burning effect turns Ume into a burning corpse that can be seen in full detail in the menu screen.
    • By approaching the beach mermaid with the hunger effect, Ume will begin to disembowel her with players being left with the gory results.
    • Getting caught by the gas mask stalker will render Ume into a bloody corpse.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: There are currently eleven effects for players to collect as well as six parts.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Ume's fate in the Her Memory ending.
  • Guide Dang It!: Being a Yume Nikki fan-game, a lot of the secrets and items are well hidden and can be difficult to find.
  • Hidden Eyes: The school girl npc, the blindfolded npc, the Kejoro npcs, the jellyfish mermaid, and the blindfolded mermaid all have unseen eyes. Ume's eyes are also covered in her overworld sprite for the Hunger effect, the Smile effect, and the Bride effect.
  • Homage:
    • The train and snow world all seem to be referencing the train car and snow world from Yume Nikki.
    • The naming convention of the parts follows the names of the Exodia part cards from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
    • The art gallery is likely a reference to Ib.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Pink Lady was trapped in the Phantasmagoria Prison and possibly killed by her father in order to prevent Ume from escaping.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: While not exactly human, Ume kills and eats mermaids in order to stay immortal.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Ume's fate in the Her Memory ending.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Ume uses a large shard of glass.
  • Jump Scare: One will occur if Ume is caught by the gas mask stalker.
  • Karma Houdini: Ume in the Coming Revival ending.
  • Kill 'Em All: It is possible to kill most of the npcs with the Glass effect.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Burning effect will light Ume on fire. While this will not kill her, it will make her move faster. The fire does seem to kill Ume if she enters the fire pit while using the effect with her burnt corpse seen floating to the bottom of the sea.
  • Killed Off for Real: If the beach mermaid is killed by Ume, she will remain dead for the rest of the game with no way to bring her back.
  • Kimono Is Traditional: Ume wears a traditional kimono even with many of her effects.
  • The Maze: The endgame areas take the form of first person mazes.
  • Mental World: Like most Yume Nikki fangames, the world is created from the playable character's mind.
  • Mind Screw: Player perceptions are messed with on multiple occasions with the best example being in the neighborhood world. There the game will pretend to glitch out and break when crossing certain thresholds.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: Many npcs can be considered this with some being based on yokai while others are more humanoid with aspects of body horror being added to them.
  • Multiple Endings: There are three endings, plus a hidden path for one of them.
    • Ending 1 - The First: Ume is taken back to the cemetery where another woman waits at the front of the shrine. She turns around to see Ume holding a shard of glass.
    • Ending 2 - Her Memory: Ume walks along a fleshy path until she reaches a movie theater. As she sits down, the movie begins and she is impaled by the Memory of Ivy.
    • Ending 3 - Coming Revival: Ume properly exits the hole with both her and the environment gaining color. She finds her remains and returns to her skeletal corpse. A cult is revealed in the physical world bringing Ume back to life.
  • Mundane Solution: If the Memory of Ivy starts chasing Ume after her first encounter, just leaving the map and returning will make her disappear.
  • Mushroom Man: Inside the mushroom world is a mushroom woman that gives Ume the Fungus effect.
  • Neck Snap: The Smile effect causes Ume to snap her own neck, taking her back to the nexus quickly.
  • Nightmare Face: The Smile mermaid has no eyes and a carved smile, making for a frightful closeup.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: After gaining the Right Arm of the Immortal One, Ume will be charged by the gas mask stalker and be greeted by a Jump Scare of what the stalker really looks like. Afterward, Ume will die and will no longer be able to move until the Return talent is used from the menu. Getting the Right Arm will also cause the gas mask stalker to spawn in other locations if too much time is spent in them. The only way to know if they have spawned is through the music fading out.
  • Plant Person: The Higanbana effect will replace Ume’s head with a giant red spider lily.
  • Pumpkin Person: An NPC with a pumpkin head can be found in multiple locations.
  • One-Hit Kill: Contact with the Memory of Ivy will instantly reduce Ume to a corpse that can only use the Return talent.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: The Bride effect gives Ume a sizable bleeding hole in her throat that doesn’t seem to affect her.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: Multiple effects remove Ume's clothing.
  • Random Event: After killing the beach mermaid, there is a chance that a pink portal will appear toward the bottom of the beach. Entering the portal will take Ume to a place entirely covered in red coral and allow players to see the pink-haired lady.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Eigetsu Haiyū effect gives Ume two more eyes while also turning her eyes red with slit pupils.
  • Slasher Smile: The Smile effect gives Ume one.
  • Surreal Horror: Much of the world follows confusing pathways that can lead to gory endpoints.
  • Womb Level: The cave with the mermaids that represent the collected effects resembles an upside-down uterus.
  • Your Reward Is Clothes: The Bride effect has no mechanical purpose and just gives Ume a dress.