Developer: Afterburner Studios
Publishers: Afterburner Studios, Maple Whispering Co., Ltd., Freedom! Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Thank you to PAX Online 2020 and Afterburner Studios for the preview copy.
When it comes to dreaming, I’m one of those people who doesn’t remember much at all of what I dream. Sure, I can assume I am dreaming about something but I couldn’t tell you what. Sometimes I remember them but they aren’t of much significance. I wish I would remember more of them though, and I’m sure there are ways to do that but I’m just not interested in figuring it out! When I saw the trailer for this game, Dreamscaper, it reminded me about the whole concept behind dreaming and why they can be so important to people. We all dream, whether vividly or not, so it’s an experience we all share.
Dreamscaper certainly looks like a dream, as it has beautiful graphics and music. As soon as you begin, you can tell you are entering a world of wonder and mystery, as you aren’t given any explanation (so far) as to what is going on. You play as a faceless woman named Cassidy, whose dreams are adventures and include memories of certain places she’s visited. In them, she holds a sword and defeats ghostly looking enemies, collects items and other weapons, and finally encounters difficult bosses to overcome.
Since this game is a rougelike, if you lose a fight, Cassidy wakes up but you can go back to sleep and try again. A roguelike is a game that starts you off with not much in terms of inventory and is often difficult in the beginning. As you keep on going back, you get better items to help you progress further. So you are getting farther in the game as you play it, so it forces you to get better. You can’t skip areas, since you need to pass them to get to the next one. I passed the first area and am still working on the second, which is the city.
Once you are awake, you are able to visit different areas where Cassidy lives, like the cafe, library, park, or the lounge/bar. Each place looks very realistic with nice details, and you can talk to different NPCs (non-playable characters). When you “chit-chat” with them, a meter goes up until you become acquaintances. You can craft gifts from the items you find when you are dreaming, and give them to the NPC and the meter goes up much faster. You then get to engage in a conversation to get to know them a bit, and you gain an ability that increases your stats. Like +2 armor, +3 critical hits, etc.
The gameplay itself is fun, and very challenging! The music is soft and ambient, so you feel more relaxed during combat instead of having intense or dramatic tunes playing. I would be paying more attention to the backgrounds and colors than the actual enemies, which got me in trouble and defeated. As I got better with the controls, which were easy to navigate, I would beat the enemies faster but they were relentless. I like a challenge, so I kept coming back to see how far I could get. As of this writing, I’m a little stuck on the second boss but I know I can win, I got pretty close!
I would have liked Dreamscaper to give a little more background as to what is going on, as the game seems somewhat repetitive. It’s nice to meet the NPCs and see Cassidy interact with them, but what else is there to do? Having some more story, more so than just the one or two lines you get from finding memories, would have helped flesh out the plot.