Dreamscaper early access is a rogue-lite, dungeon crawling indie game being developed by Afterburner Studios. It’s a gem of an experience if you ask me.
Currently in early access on Steam and so far, the progress is superb. I usually don’t play games like these, but after checking out its steam page, I got curious.
It’s a beautiful, top-down, hack-and-slash world filled with lush, immersive scenery.
We are put in the shoes of a young woman named Cassidy who is an avid lucid dreamer. Trying to uncover her past while coping with the stresses of adulting. Sounds frustrating, but it’s actually quite relaxing and intriguing.
Delving into the maze of nightmares, we are challenged to improve our skills as dreamscapers. Maps are randomly generated each run with the threat of permadeath looming over every battle.
I can’t count how many times I’ve “died” in my dreams only to have to restart from scratch. Though this mechanic exists, I can’t hate it or get angry when I have to start over.
Each section is so nicely created that I didn’t mind having to run through them again. I never know how many rooms there are or what piece of loot I’ll find next. Going through each portal is like opening a mystery box, though it’s almost always going to be filled with baddies we have to fight.
Dreamscaper’s combat is fluid and relies on timing to get the most out of each combo.
At first, it can be a little tough to notice the flashing prompt that tells you to strike at that moment, but the rhythm is easy to master. Ranged weapons and some special skills are a nice touch, though I didn’t really ever feel a need to use them. The only time I had to use ranged weapons was when I fought against the final boss of the early access.
Special skills bring variety and a degree of fun as well. There are many different options. Unfortunately, I just didn’t need to use them as much, so I’ve missed out on them. Guess it’s just not part of my play style with games like these.
We even get a power that slows time. I admit, if I had used that ability more, I probably would’ve cut my death count down by half.
Now, weapons, and abilities aren’t the only things we have to combat our nightmares with. Power ups play a huge role in my ability to survive. I went through every room of each dreamscape to find the store and I would always buy the passive skills in each map.
These range from adding effects to your attacks to minor things like receiving more resources or having the odd chance to sometimes not spend money when buying things at the store.
For an early access game, Dreamscaper‘s combat mechanics are pretty well done and fairly polished.
Of course, the fighting and dreamscapes aren’t the only things that make this game so interesting.
Dreamscaper also has a mysterious story that makes you want to uncover it.
When taking a break from the journey’s of our sleeping mind, Cassidy has to contend with life outside her dreamscapes as well. Meaning, she has to go to work to make a living and try to make friends.
You know, the things that WE have to do in OUR real lives. A very relatable element in Dreamscaper, one that isn’t as stressful or unwelcome as you might think.
As I progressed, I felt that Cassidy was going through a rough time and I didn’t know why. So, as any gamer would do, I got attached to our virtual avatar and became emotionally invested in her well-being.
I wanted to know why she left her hometown and what happened to her. Is she on bad terms with her family? What drove her to this gloomy city that gives off such an unhappy vibe?
Sadly, since it’s in early access, there isn’t much more to do than sleep, fight and wander around the various locations to build friendships.
There are, however, little memory snippets we can pick up as we go through the dream maps that let us get to know Cassidy’s past. As for building relationships, a gifting mechanic along with having conversations with these various NPC’s is the way to go.
What’s the fastest way to getting people to like you? Talk to them, introduce yourself, get to know them and occasionally give them thoughtful gifts. Should be easier in a virtual world than it is in real life. Luckily, we’re given a notebook that helps us keep track of who likes what to make things easier.
You might think this is pointless, but certain people have certain perks that can help us in the battles against our dark subconscious minds. Improving and building these relationships will strengthen these perks, giving us a better chance at beating back our nightmares.
For an early access game, Dreamscaper is pretty well-made so far.
It runs smoothly, controls are as responsive as you’d expect. Puzzles aren’t too hard, though I found the minesweeper mini puzzle to be a bit harder to grasp. I don’t have much experience with that game, so figuring those out could take me 20 minutes or more. Only the later ones though, like in dreamscapes 4 and 5. I still don’t know how to solve those, it was all down to luck in the end. And persistence.
Overall, I didn’t find it terribly difficult, but it can be challenging at times. Odds are mostly in favor for us as players, though I did get my fair share of bad runs. Most times that I’ve failed are due to my own choice of equipment or terrible reaction time.
Another thing that I wanted to mention was the art style of the game and how unique Dreamscaper is. Characters don’t have faces or fingers, but it’s not creepy in the least. They’re more like that little wooden figure in that back pain commercial. I can’t remember what it’s called, but I do remember seeing it a lot growing up. This actually adds to the allure of the game in my opinion.
As for conversation between NPC’s, there aren’t any text boxes being used. Just floating, colored sentences over the speaker’s heads. I really like the way they did that and it feels much more immersive than any of the other games I’ve played. Truly a gem of an indie game.
I can’t wait for it’s full release when we can finally uncover the rest of Cassidy’s story.
What do you think? Is Dreamscaper something that you’d like to play? Drop a comment down below and let me know if you’d enjoy this kind of game. I know I do.
You can also check out my other posts here and see if any of those pique your interest as well.
Be sure to watch my video about beating all the bosses currently in the game too.