By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Now Available for the Nintendo Switch and also available on the PC (Steam)
Sometimes it’s impossible to alter the course of a dream. The reason is in the fact there’s something in the waking world that’s causing that sleeping element to be steadfast, but when you can conquer it, more power to you! Fortunately, there is more control in Afterburner Studios‘ Dreamscaper which is now available for the Nintendo Switch. The avatar is not necessarily yourself. Instead, you’re this young woman, Cassidy, facing challenges in the waking and sleeping worlds.
More often than not, you’re in battles in the Dreamscape rather than engage in conversation with a talking cow. Thankfully, you’re dealing with people than animals. Along the way, you earn a form of currency to gain power ups in that sleeping world. In the early part of the game, they don’t come up fast enough and nor can you spend real money to get ahead faster. I like this aspect of the game’s design because it forces players to be skilled in combat. Dodging swings of the blade and spitballs of energy must become second nature to last longer in the realm of dreams. As you navigate the cells in this realm, a few narrative beats will reveal itself.
This RPG Rogue type game mixes in the brawlers, top-down shooters, and dungeon crawlers into a well-formed randomized swords and sorcery style product. The graphics are top-notch and look great on a big screen than small. The first couple of hours of gameplay involves combat type training rather than puzzle solving, and it’s tough to call this product a sandbox when there are specific goals to achieve before dealing with bosses which represent Cassidy’s demons. I wanted to wander more than worry about destroying everything my digital character meets.
The randomized gear doesn’t appear fast enough to help me heal up and venture deeper into The Further. That’s not the name of this sleeping realm, but it contains elements from The Conjuring film franchise, which I liked.
When I tend to charge forth and get hurt like King Leonidas did in 300, I know I won’t advance far. When this character dies, Cassidy wakes up and the waking world opens so you/her can explore. It’s a shame there’s no npc or multiplayer assist as I feel the escape room bits can benefit from several people working together, then just one.
The game feels loosely inspired by Ultima IV. Everything you say, encounter or respond to has consequences, and that’s where this product shines. You’re getting to learn about Cassidy’s fears and the game is about helping her conquer them. This design will keep most players invested. As for staying up late-night for just one more try, shouldn’t it be better for us to get a good night’s sleep?