TheIndieJar: The Dream Machine Review – Chapters 1-3
Two blokes, Erik Zaring and Anders Gustafsson, over in Sweden decided to create a point and click game out of clay and cardboard quite a few years ago now as part of a team known as Cockroach Inc. This lengthy and painstaking development has meant that the game, The Dream Machine, comes out in chapters some months apart.
I happened to play the first two sections early last year, and finally the third chapter has emerged. When I got the email to announce it, I squeaked a little, as this little point and click really warmed my heart, and I couldn’t wait to see how the story continued. Each chapter leaves the player on somewhat of a cliffhanger, so it has been what seemed like a very long wait.
You begin the game on a desert island, with only a few items around you. As a typical point and click game, the aim is to use your surroundings to solve puzzles. It starts you off slowly, with rather simple tasks to get you into the swing of things; use a fishing rod to catch a fish, use logs and a lighter to make a fire, cook the fish.
Your character, Victor, then wakes from his dream in his brand new apartment that he shares with his wife. The story continues on quite a normal track; looking around the place, talking to the landlord and deliverymen. A few plot twists later and you’re trying to discover why there’s a camera in your bedroom, and a mad scientist running the show… A machine has been developed in the basement of the building Victor has moved into, and it allows the viewer into the dreams of others, although it’s pretty much got a mind of it’s own now and is quite happy to put everyone in a comatose state to fulfill it’s dastardly needs. It’s up to Victor to save the lot of them, and in doing so destroying the machine that’s wormed it’s way into the resident’s dreams.
Part three, the latest instalment, sees Victor entering the mind of his wife to save her from the dream machine. Set on a ship, every character our protagonist meets on board is a clone of himself, which becomes very awkward, as one can imagine. Becoming both a barman and a detective, Victor must climb the ranks on board in order to have an audience with the captain aka his wife, and in turn wake her up.
The art style is quirky yet beautiful. You can tell, just by looking at a single room in this game, how much work has gone into the production of every little detail; from the character’s faces to the tiles on the wall in the bathroom. Characters are mute, and communicate with each other using text on the screen. The conversation trees can be quite funny at times, and depending on the way you go about a certain scene restricts how much of the story you learn. The makers are continuing to update the game with more interaction options as time goes on, making this game something that changes occasionally if you replay it.
Due to the musical score, often surreal plot twists and mute characters, The Dream Machine has an eerie atmosphere about it, one that is only comforted slightly by the medium it has been created in. I have to admit, the cliffhangers after every chapter have made me cry for more, which is made additionally distressing with the fact that each chapter comes out almost annually (at least it feels that way).
The Dream Machine is five chapters in length, with only three available to play at present. The first is free to try, while the others are a mere few pounds each, and let’s be honest, that’s a bargain price after all the hard work these guys have gone through to create every set and animation by hand using craft materials. Playing straight from your web browser, you are guaranteed the latest build every time you load up, which is great for the added tweaks to conversations and inventory combinations.
As far as the point and click genre goes, this may well be classed as one of my favourites. It doesn’t have the ridiculous humour of Monkey Island, or the cult following for that matter, but it does have something magical about it, and all the hard work these two guys have put into it really shows. I’m just waiting to see what happens in the next installment now…
You can try The Dream Machine for yourself here - thedreammachine.se
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