Another arty point and click adventure? Ah, gw’on then.. Last one for a while I swear. Here’s a beaut’ from Cockroach Inc.
The Dream Machine is a clay and cardboard styled piece of animated game cake. Some that played video games in the 90’s will recognise the rare style, familiar with other titles like Neverhood and ClayFighter 63⅓.
Mr. Victor Neff and his
hormonal pregnant wife have just moved into their first apartment together, and they’re both having weird dreams. This story explores the realm of the unconscious, specifically the dreams of all the tenants in Victor’s building. And the plot device that facilitates this bizarre story? A sentient machine in the basement that feeds on the dreams of the people around it. Victor must face this machine in its own realm to save his fellow tenants and his wife from becoming comatose, and an easy meal for the machine.
The dreams conjured up in the minds of the tenants are gorgeously crafted in equal parts morbid and magic. Advertising for the game generally makes a big deal about how it’s only made of clay and cardboard, and for good reason. There’s a lot of very skilled craftsmanship involved in the making of smoothly rendered claymation, which is quite likely why there are so few claymation games in existence. But given the nature of indie games, having to create games that stand out from the big sellers, it really brings this game into its own league.
There’s a lot of dialogue in this game, but no voice acting. Being a fan of great voice acting I feel let down that I have to read such text heavy puzzles. I’m not entirely lazy, but having to read through all the text kinda diminished the games re-playability. Exploring the game for the first time gives you a great opportunity to enquire and learn about the different characters, but I wouldn’t want to have to go through this mountain of text a second time knowing the answer to each puzzle but having to blunder through a lot of reading. Though this is a minor criticism in full view of a great piece of art.
Amazingly though, there’s only two devs working on this game, Anders Gustafsson & Erik Zaring, who between them create the sets & characters and program in the animations & mechanics. With some very generous and credited help, Gustafsson and Zaring have revived a redundant and challenging game format and turned it into a mysterious and sometimes disturbing tale.
Currently, only three out of the five chapters of the game have been completed. So for the time being this is a game to invest in. You can buy individual chapters separately, though both chapters one and two come together on Steam. Or you can buy all five as a bundle so that your collection becomes complete as soon as the newest chapters become available, and you save a bit of money.
The first two chapters on their own are regrettably short. But I find this forgivable given that as the rest of the game is still under development and it’s not yet finished. I will hastily point out that the third chapter is significantly improved, both in puzzle mechanics and in style. So once all five chapters become available, you’ll find the game is just as long as any other, but twice as enjoyable for its unique visual perspective. Plus you can be very assured that the quality of game can only get better as new chapters are released.
I’ll be eagerly returning to this game once it’s complete.