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The Dream Machine - Chapter One and Two Review

Point and click adventures seem to be making somewhat of a comeback, thanks in part to Kickstarter and other public-funding methods. However some have their roots in flash gaming websites, and The Dream Machine is one such game. Coming from Cockroach Ink., The Dream Machine is an episodic point and click adventure game which (rightfully so) proudly advertises itself as being made from cardboard and clay.
In what starts off in a rather unpredictable, yet predictable way, our main protagonist, Victor Neff is on a deserted island (the unpredictable part) surrounded by an array of seemingly unrelated items (predictable adventure). Your first few minutes will be spent picking up these items and combining them to meet an end-goal. This made me groan as there was virtually no intro scene, I was just thrown into the game and this was what I had been given. However once the scene is over - which almost seems like a parody of the very genre it’s a part of - which only takes around five minutes, I was treated to what soon became a rather enthralling experience. Victor wakes up from his desert island dream in his new apartment, having recently moved in there with his pregnant wife, Alicia.

From here the story plods away slowly in chapter one, giving you mundane tasks like setting somewhere for yourself and Alicia to eat breakfast, to finding a phone and plugging it in so you can call the landlord. These simple tasks may seem pointless, but they let you in on the life of two very believable characters and it also sets the tone for the kind of things you’ll be doing later on control wise - you won’t spend the game helping your wife sort out the house, I promise.
Soon things take a very strange turn when Victor finds a partially burned note hinting at there being something hidden under a floorboard in his new bedroom. This is where things kick off properly, and it only gets more intriguing as you play on. That’s all you’ll get from me about the story so as not to spoil anything major, but if you make it past the relatively tame opening, you’ll find yourself wanting to go on and find out the truth of the whole matter. You’ll want to solve the next puzzle or find the next character to talk to, the hallmark of a good adventure game; it makes you want to continue on to find out what is going to happen.

As the description boasts, the game is fashioned of cardboard and clay entirely. This presents a beautiful aesthetic, with strange looking characters and wonderful looking environments. Some sections in particular look stunning, with nice touches of detail here and there scattered around the world, and the graphical style is suited perfectly to an adventure game where the aim is to look over entire scenes with a careful eye.
Dream world
Audio is top-notch, too, with a well placed and somewhat haunting piece of music playing in the background, it fits perfectly with the tone of the game and the story, which is more adult in nature than you may initially think given the presentation. Voice overs can not be criticised, as there are none to criticise. Dialogue is entirely text based, much like older Monkey Island titles, for an easy comparison. This works better than you might think, with there being no voice acting it means there’s no bad voice actors, or any voices that seem out of place leaving the whole thing up to your imagination.

The puzzles, however, are the heart and soul of any point and click game, and unfortunately in the first chapter there is only one real puzzle to speak of, and it isn’t a difficult one to solve. In the second chapter there are a couple of moments where you’ll be required to think things through and in one case, you may want to have a pen and paper handy for a quick reminder of certain things. Never bad for pacing though, the puzzles all have their solutions close by, meaning you’re never travelling from scene to scene to find a pixel you may have missed a couple of rooms ago. The trend seems to be more difficult puzzles as each chapter opens up, so I fully expect things to get even better in the third chapter as far as the puzzles are concerned. It’s also worth noting that in a rare event that some of the puzzles have randomised solutions, where the overall final solution is the same, but the method of getting there is different; this marks for replay value, something sorely missing in most of the genre.
If you are not sure about the whole thing, Cockroach Ink. are nice enough to let you play the first chapter for free over on their website in-browser, at (linkeh will be here). If you like what you see, you can purchase the second and third chapter now and continue playing, or you can buy chapters one to five and play the remaining two chapters as soon as they are released. Simple, charming and intriguing, The Dream Machine is simply a must for adventure fans looking for a fix, and with the first episode entirely free to play through, there’s no reason to not give it a little try.

While the length of the chapters thus far is short (chapters one and two took me little over two hours), they are at the right price point for episodic content, with each individual episode being €4.69 and the entire package available for €13.75 through the official website. It is also available for purchase on Steam, priced £3.99 per chapter, or £11.99 for the lot.

8.00/10 8

The Dream Machine (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Point and click adventures seem to be making somewhat of a comeback, thanks in part to Kickstarter and other public-funding methods. However some have their roots in flash gaming websites, and The Dream Machine is one such game.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
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