In Dream:scape, life doesn’t flash before your eyes when you die. Instead, your memory is wiped clean, and you have to piece the events back together. In the game you play as Wilson, a man who just passed away, and you find yourself all alone in the rural landscape of your childhood. As you explore, you trigger memories that build on one another and form the story of your life, possibly including things you were unaware of when you were alive. This is one of the most interesting setups we’ve seen in an iOS game, and the story kept us intrigued the whole way through.
Dream:scape is very much an adventure game. Your main guide through the game is a blank diary with locations scrawled at the top of each page. You’re instructed to go to each one in order. So when you begin, you’ll see that the first page says ‘The Old Cabin.’ If you look around, you’ll see an old cabin just across a gravel road from your starting point. When you walk over to the cabin, you find the door locked. This cues a memory of a child’s voice talking about a hidden key. Wander around, and you’ll find the key, which lets you inside, where another audio memory will start to shed light on your childhood.
Need a fill up?
Once you leave the cabin, the diary page is filled in with text that further explains the part of your life that took place there. You’ll also find an item that will help you unlock the next location. And so the game goes: as you uncover each new place– the farm house, the church, the air field– you’ll gradually come to understand the story of your life and what became of your friends. At about the halfway point the story edges toward dark and mysterious material, making it all the more compelling.
As gorgeous Dream:scape looks– watch the trailer below to see it in motion– the atmosphere of the game wouldn’t be nearly as immersive without the audio. The voice acting is very good, and the environmental effects are top-of-the-line. You’ll hear water rushing, music playing, thunderstorms approaching, church bells ringing, and much more as you explore the game world. You’d be doing a major disservice to yourself if you play this game without headphones.
The controls are very straightforward. Picking up and using items happens automatically and there’s hardly any fighting, so all you really need to worry about is looking around and walking. To do that, you’re given two analog sticks in the bottom corners of the screen that control your movement and the camera. If you don’t want to use the stick to control the camera, you can move it by dragging your thumb around on the screen. That’s how we preferred to play, so we’d like to see them add an option to remove the right analog stick altogether.
Any given Sunday.
A slightly bigger complaint is the in-game map. It’s basically a pencil drawing that you can pull up any time you want, but it lacks detail, so it’s not quite sufficient to get you where you want to go at first. With a bit of wandering around, however, you’ll get a sense of where things are. The game world is fairly large, but don’t expect anything near the size of Aralon. This game has a more personal story to tell, and until you get far enough in the story, you’ll find many areas that are closed off to you.
Where to go next as you play isn’t always obvious, but by listening to the world around you and looking for clues where you feel compelled to go, it’s entirely possible to get through the game without using the walkthrough available on the developer’s website. Our play-through of Dream:scape lasted about 90 minutes, but your mileage may vary depending on how fast you find the items necessary to progress.
Dream:scape is a truly immersive experience that gives almost a tangible feeling of loneliness and growing despair as you make your way through the game. The developer has employed some really clever and poignant storytelling ideas, giving the game an emotional impact well beyond what you’ll find in almost any other iOS game. The graphics are incredible, the sound production is stellar, and the story is compelling. If you enjoy adventure games like Myst, be sure to check this one out.