Developer: Rising Win Tech
Release Date: October 15, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Puzzle Adventure
Puzzle adventures come in all shapes and sizes, but the genre seems to have endless potential. This led me to give the Rising Win Tech-developed adventure, Dream, a try, which is surprising given the generic title. I found my lack of knowledge of the game made it more endearing to me, and what came of it was a decent adventure with twists and some clever puzzle designs.
Dream has players assume the role of an amnesic psychiatrist named Ho Yingmeng, who has just woken up locked in a morgue. Even though she is surrounded by the dead, she jumps into gear to escape. This is a common theme for her as she makes her way to what she discovers is a hospital. However, everyone acts strangely as if they are hiding something, and then out of nowhere, one of the patients is found dead.
The story features supernatural and deathly themes as you figure out more about this place and how you ended up there. For the most part, big story elements are spoon-fed to you during dialogue as characters simply spill the beans without much pushback, or you are trusted with watching a crime scene for the sake of the plot. The story has its twists, and the payoff is well worth it, but there could have been a bit more effort put into collecting this information instead of it just being poured on you.
Luckily, the game has pretty good pacing as you make your way through the various rooms. Even suspenseful elements put a timer on your puzzle-solving skills, which work well with the plot. There’s really nothing wrong with getting a bad end, though, as the autosave feature is graceful, and not every room will kill you.
Puzzle designs are Dream’s biggest draw as each room has about two main puzzles, the revolve around and a handful of small puzzles to get through. For the most part, they seem to take ideas of other escape room games and put a twist on them to make you think. You are often forced to pay close attention to your surroundings to figure out what’s missing from the clues you’ve collected.
There were a few times that I felt stuck, but progress came naturally throughout the entire game. It was only hindered by not clicking on something because interactive elements aren’t highlighted, so sometimes just clicking everywhere would reveal something important.
Players will collect items that they can use combined with other items or on the environment to make something happen. Typically a code will be evolved but escapes rooms each have a few layers to get through to progress. It was actually pretty fun and challenging enough to make me get out a pen and paper.
What first caught my attention about Dream were the character designs. Each character is unique and had me doubting how these cool and attractive people could all just be hanging out in one area, but hey, it’s a video game. The environments are well thought out and vary in each room. Sometimes I wouldn’t understand some choices, such as a weight puzzle allowing you to pick up one Dumbbell, but there was another one you couldn’t interact with but would have made the puzzle easier.
Thankfully, I never had to brute-force my way through puzzles, which I can attribute to great escape room design. I’ve actually taken on a few real-life and boardgame escape rooms and considered this game to provide a nice layer of challenge for fans of the genre and newcomers. However, you’ll just have to accept things like pills being under a bed but needing an umbrella to get to them.
The entire experience can be completed in a few hours, and you’re left with a rather compelling conclusion. I encountered more than a few localization errors, but I never felt like I was missing anything essential to the plot.
Dream was a surprise escape room title that I’m glad didn’t escape my interest. It provides a decent layer of challenge as you make your way through detailed set pieces. The narrative may be full of exposition as the story shoves breadcrumbs in your face, but that doesn’t take away from its more compelling puzzle designs. This is truly a hidden gem that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
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