Genre:   Puzzle Adventure

Developer & Publisher:  Hypersloth

Released:  July 2015

PC Requirements:  

  • OS: Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista (SP2), 7, 8
  • Processor: 3.0 GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Shader Model 3 compliant graphics cards (GeForce GT 520/Radeon HD 3850 and above)
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 5 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible, 16-bit



by flotsam



If puzzles are your thing, this game may be for you.

It is described by the website thus:

“Play as Howard Phillips, a young man whose waking hours are filled with feelings of dread and despair, but whose dreams are clear, lucid and powerful. Do these dreams hold the key to Howard’s future? Journey through the subconscious mind in a quest for self-awareness and truth”.

The website also says this:

“You are free to explore dream environments where puzzles can be completed in different orders and the story progresses according to your choices. The paths you choose affect which dreams you experience and how the finale plays out”.

You will also find collectables, unlock achievements, and will (apparently) play through one of three storylines depending on the paths you take.

My ending unlocked an achievement called “worker”, which was on the basis that I “finished Dream with a moderate outcome”. I am not sure whether that relates to my puzzle efforts, my collecting, my achievements, some combination of all of them or something else entirely. I did however finish.

I will come back to these things and some of the other elements of the game, but whatever the other bits, the attraction in this game to me was its great big puzzles.

These are the sort of puzzles where you need to work out what the puzzle is before you can solve it. Arrive on an island and start investigating cabins. There are bridges to other islands, all but one of which are closed to you. How to get them open will depend on recognising and then solving the puzzle that is the island across that open bridge. If you are like me, you will spend quite a bit of time opening the doors to cabins which look a lot like each other and a lot like the cabins on the initial island, wandering around and poking into the other environmental locations (there are beach facilities and changing sheds) until, perhaps, you have an “a-ha” moment, brought on by your meticulous observation and prodigious exploration. It probably won’t be “a-ha I know the answer” but it will be “a-ha that must be important” and it will start the pieces falling into place.

1. A slow-moving tropical American mammal

It will likely take a long time. It did for me. But that is part of the attraction. If you want the answer to fall into your lap, play something else.

Some puzzles are bigger than others, and some you may recognise in their mechanics.  Some may not be to your liking (there are four mazes early on which involve some running around and away from things, and one near the end involves sound and some more running around) but don’t let that put you off. If you find one you aren’t keen on, grit your teeth and focus, like you would for any puzzle, and you will get through. You may even find you end up liking it (I was convinced I wasn’t going to be able to crack the sound one – once I worked out what it was – but was pretty pleased with myself when I got it done).

There is some repetition in some puzzles (the four mazes is probably the pinnacle) and lots of searching through buildings or environments that, in themselves, are a lot the same (an office building for instance has lots of very similar offices and bathrooms, spread across several floors). This almost mundane similarity and the less than photo-realistic graphic style does not make for interesting eye-candy or enthralling locations. It does however put the puzzles front and centre.

I for one loved the puzzles. I would play it for them alone. Chapter three was probably my high point, which, given it came at the end, provided a good pay off. One very big environmental puzzle I referred to above, one involving a conveyor belt which seemed at first to be a lot harder than it was, but which turned out to be simple and fun, and then the (ultimately) satisfying sound puzzle. Followed by a nightmare.

Ah yes, the nightmares.

As the game description says, you are exploring dream environments, and as everyone knows, dreams can occasionally be nightmares. These nightmares are not horrifying but they are somewhat freaky, and were very well done. One involving an attic full of dolls was especially good, and while it would spoil it to tell you too much, I did have the odd “hair on the back of my neck stand up” moment.

Like the dreams, the nightmares are conundrums which need to be solved, in order to wake up and be able to move on to the next dream. Or rather, dream environment.

2. A reluctance to work or make an effort

At this point let me say I am not completely sure of all the little details, and will need to go back and play through again to sort them all out, but here is how the game works.

You wake in your house, a little bleary eyed until you wake properly, and then you can look around. Some things you can pick up and look at, and turn around and upside down to examine properly. Some things you can open, and you will make comments as you go. Turn on lights, or not, ditto the tv, decorate if you find that opportunity, but ultimately it’s off to bed, perchance to dream, and then we get going.

You “awake” in a blocky lego-like chamber, with floating cubes everywhere and a central area with a number of pedestals and stands. Some of the items you find as you move through your dreams will end up displayed here. I had about half empty, suggesting there were many things still to find.

From there, three concourses lead to what will eventually be three dream portals, although only one is available at the start. Enter that world, and get puzzling.

Near as I can tell, one main puzzle will ultimately allow you to have the nightmare which will be the trigger for the second dream portal to be available. At least two secondary puzzles are there to be done, or perhaps not.

I say at least two, because if I missed one I obviously don’t know about it. I say perhaps because in the first dream, I know I didn’t do one but was still able to enter the nightmare, but in the third, the nightmare was only available once I had opened the last bridge, and solving the puzzle to open the others were precursors to being able to do that.

So I didn’t do at least one puzzle, I didn’t fill about half the pedestals, and I unlocked 13 of 20 achievements. My assumptions about my “moderate” end are based on those results.

Despite having reached the end, I believe I could still go back and enter all of the dream worlds, to look for things and do remaining puzzles. All the portals certainly remain available and open at the end, and had I chosen, I could have re-rentered a world before finishing.

Unfortunately I can’t do that now, having chosen to start a new game. There is only one auto save slot, and starting a new game erases everything that went before. Why that needs to be I don’t know. Perhaps it can be fixed Mr Sloth?

3. One of the seven deadly sins

I can’t pretend to have mastered the nuances of the autosave. The spinning cube bottom right is an indication saving is going on, but I was never completely sure it was saving mid-puzzle. There were times when I wanted to exit, but was determined to finish a puzzle in case my progress was not saved. I confess to being overly cautious, and certainly exiting to the main menu and not direct to the desktop generates a spinning cube that suggests whatever you have done will be saved. But in the absence of an answer to the email I sent the developers, I continued to err on the side of caution.

Don’t be alarmed when you choose to continue the game from the menu, and you start in the bedroom rather than wherever you exited. Just go to sleep, and then make your way back to wherever you were. It does involve a modicum of backtracking, but maintains the notion of needing to go to sleep in order to dream.

Dream is played in the first person, although you will see your hands and forearms at times, perhaps your knees if you crouch, and your toes and some of your front if you look down. You cast a shadow that is visible where shadows would be, and you will see your reflection in mirrors. Use the WASD keys to move, and the mouse to steer, and mouse buttons to interact with the world.

I had a very small inventory (not including the items on display), which included a map or pamphlet relevant to each world, but used none of it. If there was a purpose to the clock I carried I never worked it out.

I mentioned the graphics before and I hope I didn’t do them a disservice. They were well suited to the creation of a surreal dream-like environment, and were sharp and crystal clear. As I said, they weren’t eye-candy, but what they weren’t didn’t matter.

In keeping with the dream world, you will also find little scraps of dream interpretations floating in bubbles as you go, explaining the significance of where you are or what you are looking at (what does dreaming of the ocean mean for instance) but you can’t read these anywhere once found, which is a shame. Can we fix that too please?

With respect to the storyline, Howard’s search for self-awareness and truth escaped me. It was secondary to the puzzles, which took all of my attention, but I will definitely be going back. The somewhat lengthy and repetitive discourses were a distraction this time; next time I will pay closer attention to that aspect.

 A good time indeed.

Grade: A-

I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB



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