I accidentally stumbled on DREAMERS as I was browsing a sale on the PlayStation Store. Straight away I was intrigued by the bright and colourful icon and decided to check it out! From the screenshots and description alone, I was left wondering, “Why hadn’t I heard more of developer PlaySys’ charming action title?” Whilst that may be due to the lack of push Sony seems to give indie games on their digital store, I decided this had to be a game I tried out! But is this what dreams are made of? Or does it feel more like a nightmare?
The game opens with a young boy experiencing one of life’s most difficult struggles: having to download new videogames on a slow internet connection. Despite this obvious downside, the island he resides on is basically a peaceful paradise, that is until a drone carrying a letter from his grandma comes crashing through the window! The letter is, in fact, an invitation to her birthday party, but she’s not given our protagonist her address, oh no! And so kicks off our story in a rather disinteresting fashion, but in a game that’s so laid-back and peaceful, there’s hardly going to be an epic saga of two warring nations now, is there? There are plenty of NPCs to talk to who’ll be more than happy to share their life stories with you, with enough humour and charm to give the player an incentive to chat with as many people as possible.
However, the nameless boy isn’t the only protagonist, as a total of three characters will be controllable throughout the story. Despite the slow start of one boy and his quest to eat cake with his grandma, DREAMERS does weave an intriguing tale and showcases a sort of awe and wonder through how a child might see the world. It’s a very family-friendly title and would be a great one to play with any young ones!
I have a bit of a soft spot for games that use intentionally low-poly models and environments, as it takes me back to my childhood when 3D gaming first properly took off. DREAMERS, then, does exactly that, and although this style may not appeal to every gamer, it feels like a perfect fit for the calm, colourful experience that this title offers. However, the fantastic use of lighting really surprised me; the denizens of this world may not have faces, and their lack of eyes can often be horrifying, but boy do they cast some impressive shadows!
As for the audio, it’s just as minimalistic as the visuals. There are no character voices here — aside from the Banjo-Kazooie-style mumbles as a character’s text appears on screen — but that didn’t take away from the narrative at all. The often jolly musical themes are well-suited for the particular environments, and many tracks could absolutely be on one of those “lo-fi beats to relax to” type playlists.
DREAMERS’ gameplay is simple and stress-free in what feels like an almost less complex point-and-click title. Whilst not true head-scratchers — the likes of which the Monkey Island series and its ilk are famous for they are well-designed and varied enough to be enjoyable. A personal favourite was hunting down five chicks to return to their pen, only to find a similar-sized bird, paint it yellow, and pass it off as a chick!
If you do get stumped by a particular puzzle or have zero clue on where to go next, you can read the internal thoughts of the currently controlled character, which not only acts as a sort of hint system but also allows you to delve into their thoughts on past, present, and future events. This fleshes the characters out a bit more and gives them more personality, so it’s always worth triggering now and then just to see what they’re thinking about.
Having to traverse the quasi-open-world maps can be a bit of a chore, and when you factor in just how much backtracking you’ll constantly be doing, it grows a bit tedious. I longed for a dedicated sprint button, which would have been a blessing when returning to a quest giver for the third time in 10 minutes, or even the ability to jump to cut a quicker path to your destination, but DREAMERS is sadly lacking both. Sure, it’s nice to just take in this unique world and savour the moment, but when I arrive at a story location only to find I need to return to where I’ve just been to find another item, the sites quickly lose their splendour.
There are occasional side activities and optional objectives to break up the slow pace, though, and for the majority of them, they’re quite fun! You’ll be able to take part in things like fishing or searching high and low for collectables. There’s even a drone flying mini-game that lets you create your own drone and deliver parcels; definitely my favourite of the bunch!
It’s refreshing to play a game that features no combat or mature themes, and DREAMERS will certainly satisfy those of you who are just looking to relax. Although not perfect — mainly thanks to the constant back and forth of both main and side quests — this is nevertheless a journey through an idyllic world with a surprising amount of content and some good, if often simple, puzzles.
DREAMERS (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
DREAMERS is well-suited for anyone of any age who just wants to kick back and enjoy a light-hearted puzzle adventure. Just be prepared for a good amount of backtracking!