You snooze, you lose…..Your mind? Possibly…..Maybe!
Dream is an exploration game that takes place within the subconscious mind of Howard Phillips, a young man whose waking hours are tedious and dull, but whose dreams are lucid and powerful.
Games have started taking the form of more artistic, puzzle and exploratory genre rather than the usual typical shoot em’ up or maximum score driven games. Games such as Dear Esther, Gone Home and The Stanley Parable being examples of games walking in the realm of art.
Dreams are weird and the dream world in Howard’s mind are no exception, you start off in a house after hearing a short section of dialogue in which you are speaking to your friend about something at stupid o’clock in the morning. You play as Howard in Dream and it all starts funnily enough, by going to sleep.
It kicks off great and really grabbed my interest immediately. Asking myself why? Where’s this going? What does it all mean?!
In terms of story and plot it doesn’t really progress much more after that.
Each dream world is beautifully designed with some great scenery; they are also very varied and imaginative. You can be in a desert, then next in an office building block. The dream settings and environment are pleasing to look at and can change when an interaction goes right or wrong. The soundtrack works very well and compliments each setting.
The puzzles are varied with some degree of difficulty but enjoyable enough, some even seem familiar, they’re fun and offer enough difficulty to feel rewarded on completion. They range from turning off the lights in a tunnel while being chased by what appears a smoke/fog monster to matching light beams in an office block which looks like something from the Crystal Maze.
After each dream sequence of the game you complete there is a nightmare. These are genuinely creepy, the atmosphere is well set but it still seems a little bit out of place, an afterthought as the nightmare doesn’t have much to do with the dream before.
Still I couldn’t help feeling they have much point; they don’t seem to add to the story if at all. Not that there is a huge revelation to what the story is and what it is leading up to.
That’s my main gripe with Dream; it doesn’t seem to focus on what the point of the story is, where it intends to go or why Howard is having these weird dreams in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad game at all.
The control system is easy enough, mainly walking but integration can be clunky at times. Don’t bother using a gamepad as it only offers partial support. With Steam big picture I would like to have used a pad on a TV, small problem for me but nothing game breaking. Hopefully something for the future.
Sometimes these can be a bit hit and miss, The Stanley Parable I thought was fantastic, Gone Home a bit of a let-down and Dear Esther somewhere in the middle. Dream is different enough to set itself apart from the rest of the genre which is starting to get saturated.
It might seem like I’ve spent more time moaning about Dream than saying how much I liked playing it.
I did enjoy playing and I will continue to go back to it every now and again, there are alternate endings which do add a reason to come back and play again. Dream is a solid and enjoyable experience, if you enjoy nice looking environments and fun puzzles. I felt potentially it could have had more of a story element with some twists and turns. I am however interested in following what, if anything happens with this in the future.
If you’re a fan of those games then this is for you. I am a fan of the exploration genre and jumped at the chance of having a look at Dream on the PC.
Score: 7 out of 10.
+Collectable notes with dream meanings (You might even figure out your own messed up dreams!)
+ Beautiful, varied level design and soundtrack
+ Enjoyable puzzles
– A lot of repetitive walking about
– It’s difficult to find out what to do sometimes
– Not much of a story