You play as Howard, a man probably in his mid twenties. You wake upon your sofa having successfully managed to sleep through whatever show it was you were hoping to watch. So you decide the best thing to do is head to bed. When you get to bed your dream is full of floating cubes and a strange gate which you travel through. You now find yourself in a canyon of some kind which you explore until you find a stack of computers. Now in order to progress you must make your way through four mazes, turning off lots of lights whilst being chased by some mysterious ‘smoke’. Confused? So was I…
The basic idea behind Dream is fairly solid. Walk around until you find a puzzle, solve said puzzle and then move to a new area. However it’s a game with no tutorial or even directions of any sort. The puzzles (when you eventually reach them) are fairly good. They’re varied, interesting and at times need some thinking about and highly enjoyable. With one particular puzzle took me a good amount of time to even figure out what I was supposed to be doing and solving it gave me a huge sense of satisfaction.
Whether you’ll like Dream largely depends on how long you think it takes for ‘Exploring’ to become ‘Aimless Wandering’. Returning back to the house I began to look around and found lots of clue to Howard’s life or rather more about his recently deceased author uncle who’s house he now seems to be living in. The other levels also seem to have plenty of these little hints and secrets but finding them quickly becomes a chore and just finding the next puzzle to progress can be frustrating.
There are three acts (four if you include the starting house) and each act offers two ‘Side Dreams’ these are bonus optional puzzles and/or areas adding a little variety to the game. There are also the Nightmare Acts. I’d love to tell you about them but I refuse to play them. I started the level something moved down the corridor a door slammed and messages were scrawled across the mirror in blood. I’m not great with horror even when I’m expecting it so I decided to leave it. However what’s clear is that it contains a decent amount of content for a game of this type especially when you include the 30 collectable ‘Dream Bible Scraps’ and a handful of other collectable items
Dream is quite pretty and it’s also backed up by a great soundtrack. But the asthetic of the game is obviously made for a VR headset. This is especially clear in the rollercoaster side level that would probably be quite impressive if you were but on a screen was dull.
It’s difficult to make up my mind on Dream. On the one hand the puzzles for the most part were excellent, and felt like a grown up, slightly harder Professor Layton kind of thing. The small hints of depth in the world and varied locations were also great. But I keep coming back to one sticking point, it just took so much wandering around with no real direction to find what I was looking for. This is especially true in the third act where it took me about half an hour to even find one of the puzzles! There are some people out there will really really love this game, but for most of us I have to say it’s probably one that we’ll never get round to finishing it properly. I should point out that the review key for this game was provided by the developer free of charge.