The Indie game scene may not be starved of roguelite adventures or action RPG’s so is there a reason to get excited about another one at this point? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Dreamscaper has all the tools required to crown it as the best roguelite in the current Indie scene. While that is of course as subjective comment as you can get, hopefully it is enough of a statement to get as many people as possible to check this game out for themselves whether they are into the genre or not. Very few games in the world are considered “perfect” and there are no doubt some details about Dreamscaper that may rub people the wrong way but behind these small imperfections lies a game that sits pretty in a genre rising in popularity.
Let’s start off with my personal experience with the demo of Dreamscaper and why I am full of praise for it. It’s worth mentioning that I am certainly not a pro when it comes to ARPG roguelites, on paper one would assume they shouldn’t be for me in general when you way up how bad I am at them. The randomly generated style of dungeon crawling along with the rush of permadeath and different starting weapons after death are all features of a roguelite that are present in Dreamscaper. These features would in the past be features that would steer me clear of games like this but the more I cover Indie games and notice how popular they are becoming the more intrigued I get. After playing several of them I can inform you that I haven’t gotten any better at them over time but have discovered that I want to get better at them and will continue to try to. I do find the hack and slash combat style coupled with the need to evade attacks quickly a fun experience and the thrill of permadeath a symbol of encouragement to make you keep trying and get better.
The Dreamscaper demo starts you off playing the tutorial mode which I must admit caught me off guard a little. The tutorial mode is the main character Cassidy while she is playing a video game herself, so we are playing that game from Cassidy’s POV if that makes sense? The game Cassidy is playing runs exactly the same as when you start to play the proper game after the tutorial and gives you the basics of how to control the main character, how to combat with melee, ranged and use abilities as well as dodge roll. What caught me off guard about it is the fact that the game Cassidy is playing looks a lot more sub-par graphically than the main game with a more pixelated look which obviously is supposed to differentiate from the main game. I like many others at this point was not aware that the visuals would get much better once the main game had started and wondered if it was an issue with my graphics card capabilities. This might have been a complaint from others previously as the developers Afterburner Studios added a notice before the game starts asking you to upgrade your graphic card drivers if you discover any graphical issues. I did that only to find the tutorial looked the same, however it was clear the tutorials look is supposed to look like this after you finish it as the main game starts directly after and looks fantastic!
Each dungeon you play through is one of Cassidy’s dreams and nothing gives you a better dream vibe than the games top quality soundtrack! The serene and ambient music is a great match for when you are watching something from a dream sequence. It perks up when you start combatting enemies (known as nightmares) and overall really is a top quality soundtrack. Also the edges of each room are not always visible until you get closer to them when they fade in which is also a nice “dreamy” touch. The last thing I will say about the graphics as we must move on, is that it is nice that you seem to have a different backdrop each dungeon. The first is like a snowy wintery style while the second dungeon is more green with a lot of trees. I’m looking forward to seeing what other backdrops are in store in the full game. The game controls pretty flawlessly if you are using a gamepad which the developers recommend using, I was using an Xbox One controller and didn’t have any issues with the controls whatsoever. Your left analogue stuck moves Cassidy around, the right is used to aim your ranged attack which is fired using RT, A is dodge roll, X and Y are your light and heavy melee attacks, B picks up items, LB uses your abilities and LT uses your shield, tapping LT will perform a parry and pushing the left analogue stick down enlarges the minimap in the top right corner. Also DOWN on the D-pad used bombs but I’m not sure if the other directions did anything.
I managed to defeat the boss of the first dungeon with relative ease by utilising my ranged attacks a lot and using a couple of light melee attacks before dodging his massive hammer swings only to discover that this boss was a normal enemy in the second dungeon! But again, this is a roguelite, it’s not for the faint hearted and will keep you on your toes as often as it can. You will encounter enemies that will either attack you close up or from afar and it can get overwhelming trying to take on multiple enemies in one room so you will have to master the art of taking down an enemy while at the same time keeping an eye on projectiles coming your way from other enemies and dodging them when necessary. Dungeons contain shops where you are able to purchase upgrades and potions to help you on your travels which feel like a god send the further you progress in a dungeon. Speaking of upgrading your weaponry and abilities, there are a tonne of upgrades to discover in Dreamscaper, once you beat a dungeon you will be able to use your currency to buy a higher chance of finding the weapons/abilities you desire and there are a lot of them. From cool looking melee weapons such as katanas and hammers to ranged attacks such as laser beams and fireman hoses and even neat abilities like short distance teleporting, there are so many upgrades that will keep the game feeling fresh.
In terms of story, Dreamscaper offers a deep plot which explores the subconscious mind of young Cassidy who is struggling to come to terms with her new life after moving into the city away from the people she knew and grew up with. Cassidy used to love dreaming until after the move where her dreams are now being invaded with nightmares but she struggles to open up and talk to people about them. An unexpected tragedy has sent her down a dark hole which she is struggling to get out of and you must help her by unravelling her story and defeating the imposing threat that enters her dreams. Believe it or not, in the full game the dreams are only half the battle in Dreamscaper, in between the dungeons you will play as Cassidy in her conscious state. You will be able to explore the world in which Cassidy lives while she is awake as well as in her dreams, on one hand you will be vanquishing nightmares in her dreams and on the other you will be talking to people, building relationships and unlocking her story while she is awake. Your actions in your conscious state will affect the world of your unconscious state and vice versa, a killer feature that I am stoked to dive into, Cassidy might not have a visible face as such, but I cannot wait to discover her back story and help rid her of her depression. Even though I have barely scratched the surface with the game, I already feel somewhat attached to Cassidy and I am willing to go out of my way to help her!
Dreamscaper has only recently completed their Kickstarter campaign which was hugely successful having smashed their goal of $25,000 raising over double and achieving several stretch goals in the process. Afterburner Studios managed to raise a staggering $52,104 and it pleases me to say that not only will you be able to play Dreamscaper on Steam but also on the Nintendo Switch thanks to hitting the stretch goal. I know Dreamscaper will find a successful home on Steam as well as the ever so Indie friendly Nintendo Switch and I cannot wait to play more. Make sure you check out the games Kickstarter so you can see how development is coming along and all the stretch goals that have been met. There is not much more for me to say about Dreamscaper at this point apart from try the demo out as you will no doubt very much enjoy it and while you’re at it, add the game to your wish list on Steam!
What do you all think of Dreamscaper? What are your hopes and dreams for the game with its full release? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below. Thanks for reading!
Written by Sammy J on 8th September 2019