Review: Dream

Dream by HyperSloth is a first person exploration game where you play a guy trying to figure out what to do with his life. It’s apparently a pretty dull existence, but his dreams are far more vivid and exciting than his waking life, so he tends to want to sleep a lot, which might not be the best idea for someone in his position, but, as it turns out, his dreams are trying to teach or tell him something important — and that is where we, as players, enter the scene.

The mechanism of dreams is what the game revolves around, so most of the exploration will take place there, and the items found give further control over a dream. There are good dreams, but also bad dreams, so there is also an element of horror (which I think were better than in many actual (indie) horror games). You start awake in your bedroom and can start by exploring the rest of the house or go to bed and dream. When dreaming you enter a hub dream from which you can choose different paths and go deeper. There are also dreams within dreams for you to discover.

What stands out is the competently built environments and if you are into exploration, you’ll get your money’s worth (just now, prior to writing this review, I went back in and discovered two whole new areas). One can tell a lot of effort went into making the scenes believable (even when dreaming) and with the right amount of attention to detail to make for example the rooms of the house you start in look used and lived-in. Other than navigating the sometimes maze-like environments, there are also a few other types of puzzles (e.g. make sure you visit Doctor Brown). Surface-wise, the game goes for a realistic look, but with a certain game tint to it.

I played and finished this game in 2016, so the details are a little foggy now, but I think you didn’t have to solve any puzzles so long as you explored all dreams. Solving them will effect the story and the ending, though, so I recommend it: most of the puzzles were quite nice, except the one with the cakes and the conveyor belts, which I found to be overly tedious. It’s a variant of the tower of Hanoi, which on a small scale, where you can see the whole thing and quickly move the pieces from state to state, is okay, but here it was scaled up, losing the overview and making me run back and forth a lot, making it more of a chore than a brain-teaser. I liked the concept of delivering cake, though; that bit was cute.

The UI has some polishing issues: the default settings aren’t synced with what is actually shown. This was only a problem when starting, though: once you’ve set everything up the way you want it, you can forget about it and start playing. The interacting with objects sometimes bugged out making it impossible to handle for example switches (like in the conveyors puzzle) and, even if I could still finish the game, this was a bit of a showstopper at times. Another issue for me was that when exiting from a subdream, the parent dream got reset (I would have preferred it if for example the state of doors had been saved) and I also ended up at the start of the parent dream, instead of in the room where I entered the subdream, so I had to retrace my previous steps to continue exploring whence I left off.

All in all, I really enjoyed this game, and want to play it again to discover more secrets and extra dreams. If you have any interest in dreams, exploration, or puzzles I recommend it fully.

The music wasn’t my cup of tea, not bad in any way, just not my thing (in the long run): I would have preferred something a bit more ambient or relaxing. I ended up muting it and listening to something else.

Game’s website