Dreamscaper, of which we propose the Nintendo Switch review, is a video game developed by Afterburner Studios, which puts the depression. This is a delicate issue, addressed in this case through the alternation of real life and dream world. This psyche disorder is characterized by alienating symptoms, such as insecurity, difficulty interacting with other people, a sense of loneliness and isolation, eating disorders and difficulty sleeping.
The nightmares resulting from the protagonist’s restless sleep will allow players to enter his mind, fight his demons and try to survive. Dreamscaper was shown at the 2019 Nintendo Indie World conference, and is now ready to catapult us into a surreal adventure where enemies are the fruit of a girl’s disturbed psyche.
Dream, fight, die, wake up
At the beginning of the video game, the protagonist Cassidy stands in a creepy graveyard shrouded in black fog, when a monstrous hand appears from underground and grabs her, dragging her with him. This marks the acquaintance with the true enemy of adventure, the depression that generates monsters in nightmares and negative feelings in reality.
Cassidy awakens in her room and the game can begin. The graphic style immediately appears to be perfect for the kind of story told by Dreamscaper. Human characters are depicted without the strokes of the face, and the environments are well detailed but enveloped in a muted light that makes everything appear as one distant memory. It collides with thealternation of day and night, as one of the few things Cassidy can do early in the gameplay is lie on the bed and sleep. Sleep brings with it a rush towards the nightmares of the girl, in a parallel world where enemies follow one another from map to map, and the settings are each characterized by a different play of colors.
In dreams (or rather, nightmares) Cassidy owns one life bar, top left, which can reset itself and lead it to “death”, that is, upon awakening. A map at the top right shows the various rooms that can be explored, and which can contain minor monsters, objects to collect, weapons of various kinds, main bosses. Before venturing into the initial nightmare, players are offered a convenient tutorial with basic commands. Every action is intuitive and easy to memorize – Cassidy can attack closely, attack at a distance (the attack performed during the moment when the girl is illuminated in white will inflict more damage), parry (parrying at the right time will allow you to reflect the attacks received and will have extra benefits), dodge. You will also have them available magical abilities and a command for slow down time surrounding, which will have a cost in lucidity. The tutorial can also be repeated at will and at any time of the gameplay, in order to master the controls to the fullest.
The world of dreams is constantly changing. Going through specific bring them, Cassidy will face new trials to overcome, enemies to defeat, and will even be able to unlock memories of her past life. Each milestone reached in the dream world will reflect on the real one. There Cassidy’s room, for example, it is an effective mirror of his ailment caused by depression, and will change over the course of the adventure. In the beginning it will be, in fact, bare and messy but, as the gameplay progresses, Cassidy will begin to overcome her fears, remember events from her past and forge bonds with the inhabitants of Redhaven, the city she just moved to. His bedroom will therefore be increasingly tidy and well organized.
In the real world, Cassidy will be able to head to different locations, such as the park, the coffee shop, the vinyl store or the library, which will be unlocked in the early stages of the game. In every place it will meet different people, with which he will have to make a bond. She will be able to chat with each of the people she meets and strengthen the friendship with gifts she has made in her room (building items to give as gifts will cost money). Furthermore, in the real world it will be possible to unlock bonuses that can be used in the dream world, for example with the Dream with Open Eyes in the bar, or with the Meditation in the park. The two worlds, therefore, they will influence each other.
Mirror of fears and lost memories
Cassidy’s life prior to her move to Redhaven is unknown to players. Through the memories that can be unlocked by dreaming it will be possible to reconstruct some moments of the protagonist’s past, and get into the depths of her emotions. Each dream is linked to a specific memory, corrupt however from the negativity of depression. Successfully reaching the end of each level is equivalent to defeating the darkness that has enveloped the memories, “clearing them” and restoring the positive emotions associated with them. The dream world is graphically represented in an extremely effective way. THE color filters they are specific to each dream into which one is catapulted. Initially you will find yourself in the playground of Redhaven, cloaked in white under the effect of winter and perennial snow; the city at night will instead be characterized by neon lights and dark atmospheres and purple; in the next dream the environments will be wrapped in various shades of yellow, orange and ocher, as if you were facing a sunset, and so on.
Although the dream scenarios are very accurate in details and atmospheres, after a while they will appear repetitive. In fact, dying will lead to the back to the first dream, to environments and maps already seen and enemies already faced, which will have to be defeated again. Even the bosses already seen will reappear, with the same fighting patterns. These monsters are the representations of negative feelings born in Cassidy with depression, like fear (Fear will be the first boss to face and, therefore, the one against which you will find yourself having to fight more often), failure, negativity and defeat.
There will also be challenges and puzzles to be solved to unlock useful objects and artifacts, which can be kept even in the event of Cassidy’s death in the dream world. The weapons, the magical abilities and collectibles they are very numerous, so much so that it is often difficult to understand the effects of what is found. If the fighting techniques are not mastered, the death of the character will lead the player to always have to face the same maps and the same clashes with enemies.
Dreamscaper is one more video game complex than appears on the card, since there are so many actions that can be performed and many puzzles to be completed to collect objects and artifacts, as well as weapons and magical abilities. Even in the real world they can be played different actions, which will get complicated and become more numerous with the continuation of the gameplay. Overall, the title is Interesting and it deserves to be tried. Many functions can only be understood by using them and acquiring familiarity, but the environments and scenarios are rendered so well that the repetitiveness of the actions to be carried out does not weigh too much, especially in the initial phases of the game, when you have to understand how to move and is Cassidy’s life bar is easier to reset, inevitably leading the player to wake up and have to start over in the dream world.
In the adventure developed by the Afterburner Studios you are catapulted into what looks like a huge and very rich memory, with an underlying nostalgic sense, a slight uneasiness enveloping Cassidy’s nightmares and a feeling of loss that must be defeated, to bring back the light in the girl’s mind (and, therefore, in ours).