We like a bit of The strange. Everything that bends and twists reality always has a charm. Dreams are a fabulous way to do it in video games, because we expect to leave normality behind for a little trip to the Realm of all crazy things. I mentioned the game we’ll be discussing earlier, but I definitely had to get my hands on a copy to see where this little journey would take us into the not-known.
Well … as we all know, I’m more scared than I probably should be, and that you can’t give a fair assessment to a game if you play it with your eyes closed from the bathroom. With that in mind, I thought I’d take my good friend and TVG colleague Emily Mullis along for the ride. That way I would have someone to hide behind if necessary. Let’s see if we agree, shall we?
First of all. It’s going to be a really hard game to tell without ruining things and adding spoilers. I will try to tell you as little as possible. What I’m going to tell you is that this is a game about dreams and reality and the fact that the two are not always separate units. In the matter of your character, the realm of dreams and the land of reality become inextricably linked, and if you want to regain some semblance of normalcy and reason, you need to navigate your dreams. I will tell you one thing as a fact. As a player, it is certainly not an easy task to determine what is real and what is not.
Much of the story revolves around a Magical dream catcher. We get the impression that this object does not come from the land of the normal, but we realize very early on that it becomes very difficult for a player to sometimes find which parts of the game make you dream and in which you are awake. This feeling of vagueness is so well done that you begin to feel an unsettling disconnection from reality. This is helped by the fact that the dream catcher is a first-person escapade. They really put themselves in the place of the character, which is as commendable as it is unpleasant. Let’s go back to that dream catcher. You need to find the not-found stones in your dreams in order to fully use your strength and regain your life.
As I said, I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t go into details. During your trip, you will walk through the forests, around strange and distorted versions of your apartment, and you will even take a rather scary train trip. From hunting for a girl you just can’t catch to leaning on a talking mountain or being observed by strange, slender shapes, everything you experience blurs the boundaries of what should be normal, and it’s incredibly well done.
The dream Catcher is one of the most emotional games I’ve played in a long time. You are really attracted and although this is by no means a horror game, the feeling of anxiety and discomfort that I felt was noticeable. Even though I knew it was a walking Sim and I couldn’t die, I was still playing sections with one eye open. It was just because I was expecting a fear that didn’t come. It is this expectation that makes this title truly remarkable.
I often feel like I only leave discussions about things like aesthetics and graphic decisions after the fact. In good conscience, I can’t do that here. The graphics are absolutely stunning. In the dream catcher you really feel like you are in a dreamscape. If the graph had been below average somehow, I think some of the attraction would have been lost to see what comes next. You really have to be completely immersed to get the full experience, and thankfully there’s nothing that can tarnish that.
I’m not a Fan of Walking Sims. I like to be part of a visual novel or have the whole agency to be the character. A walking Sim is somewhere in between for me and I never felt they were enough of a game to warrant this title. As for the dream catcher, I withdraw all this. If it were literally a “game”, it would not cause the discomfort that it generates. The fact that you know your dream and cannot die makes absolute sense. You also feel like you don’t have full control of everything around you, which seems important to me. If it was just a Visual Novel, it would probably completely lose its impact, hoping that your own imagination would do the job. It is an experience that is absolutely worth it.
The other thing to note is the story as a whole or should I say The absence of one. We never have enough idea of what’s going on and we slowly feed the plot. I firmly believe that a game has a solid story from the very beginning, but I think in this matter it would be way too much anchoring. In a way, the story doesn’t matter, it’s the journey that counts, and it seems.