By Eric Pankoke on Tue, 09/03/2013
If you happened to catch my review of Twin Moons HD, another G5 adventure game release, this one might sound similar in a lot of ways. Part of me wishes I could try more of the G5 releases as they come out, but the positive tradeoff seems to be that when I do finally get to play one, it usually turns out to be a good one. Of course there are still “levels of goodness” even among the really good games, and in that regard I’d say Dreamscapes: The Sandman Collector’s Edition HD (Free; $6.99 IAP to unlock full game) easily ranks in the top five and maybe even the top three games that I’ve played from G5. I just wish they’d stop writing these games with sequels in mind, because now I might just lose a little sleep waiting to find out what happens next.
The story in Dreamscapes is of particular interest to me because I've always thought it was fascinating to read about people entering someone else’s dreams. I do wish there had been more back and forth between the dream and real worlds instead of an almost complete focus on the dreams, but it was still quite intriguing. As you traipse through the dreamscape of the main character, Laura, you are presented with some nice cut scenes that show parts of her real life; and much like Twin Moons, while there are diary pages that you can read, you can also get the majority of what is going on from the audio and visuals that are presented to you. There is also a bonus story once you’ve completed the main game, though I’ll leave it to you to get there and find out whether it’s a prequel or continuation.
Navigation is pretty standard: tap to pick up items, tap where you want to go, and tap on areas of interest to take a closer look. You can pinch to zoom in and out of the current scene to see details better, but it appears that a simple double tap to accomplish the same was not implemented. To use items in your inventory, you tap on them and then tap in the scene where you wish to use them. Once again there were no inter-inventory interactions, but in the end, you get to the same place. There was a decent selection of mini-games, though thankfully not nearly as many as in Twin Moons. And while you have the option to skip them after a period of time, I never actually had to. The only real problem I had with the interface was that sometimes I’d tap in an area that would be an exit to another room, and then when I’d tap what I felt was a far enough distance away to look at something else, the game thought I was executing a second tap to move to the other room. Not a big deal, but it took a few extras seconds to move back to the original room.
In addition to the puzzles you must solve, most of the rooms have one or more beholders in them. These little critters can be hiding anywhere, and you must tap them once to reveal them and then again to collect them. Sadly I fell two short of collecting them all in the main game and one short in the bonus adventure. And with no way to go back to certain rooms, I couldn’t correct my mistake; so I’m not sure what you get besides possibly an achievement for collecting them all. Speaking of which, the game does have 14 achievements you can earn, and there is even a little mini-game where you can place figures in a picture, colorform style, for each of the achievements you’ve earned. There are also some extras like a gallery of concept art and a place where you can listen to all the music apart from the game itself.
The visuals are excellent, and while I realize the games that G5 publishes come from different developers, that’s still something I’ve come to expect from a G5-branded title. The backgrounds are highly detailed and it’s cool to see each part of the dream world transition from dark to light as you free it. The characters are well designed, and I’m particularly fond of the furry creature called Benny. The sound effects are decent enough, while the voices make an already vivid world even more dynamic. I do find the voice of the Sandman a bit grating, though. (No pun intended!) The music is top notch and does a good job bolstering the almost horror-like theme of the game.
When I first started to play this game I was impressed but not entranced. After I decided to start over and really focus on it, I couldn’t tear myself away from it. While there’s still something about the current generation of adventure games that doesn’t feel quite like what I was hooked on as a kid, the quality of what we are being offered is growing by leaps and bounds from the “make everything a hidden object game” mindset. I miss the third-person King’s Quest-style format, but as long as this sort of storytelling keeps up, I’ll take it from whatever perspective I can get it.
Overall Score: 9/10