As Cassidy, your goal is to defeat the nightmares that plague your dreams. To do this, use everything from pool cues, yo-yos, finger guns, and magic bows to end your adventure against strange nightmares and creepy bosses. An excellent combat system creates a flow that lets you jump from monster to monster. There are secrets and unlocks around every corner. Some wise choices – like being able to teleport players into rooms they’ve already discovered instead of walking – add a welcome convenience to the villainous dungeon crawl.
The fight is crisp, responsive, and the highlight of Dreamscaper. While I found it possible to run a run with incredible gear and big buffs without getting involved in combat mechanics, learning how to perfectly dodge, block, parry, and timing your attacks is incredibly satisfying. You can even deflect projectiles at enemies while you master the timing. Boss fights are skill based and you need to learn and counter each of their skills. My first fight with any boss was intimidating, and I often failed early attempts. I later ran circles around these monsters and killed them off without being touched. The mechanics are a real joy to master and engage with, and the fight made me want to come back even after completing a full iteration of the Dreamscape.
Each dungeon run provides different resources that you can spend in the waking world between runs. Eventually, you’ll unlock new items to find during runs and permanent strength gains, including health, powerful companions, and more. In addition, you can spend resources to change the room configurations and logic. By spending resources, you can add rooms, change how rooms work, and add significant options to each run. This adds another valuable weakness that you can play with as you work on other stats and skills. The ability to add challenge rooms for more items, health wells, and forge to upgrade items makes a huge difference and is a cool roguelike feature on top of the other progression methods.
As your relationships with the various residents of the city grow, you will gain influences to bring to the dungeon that can make you an offensive or defensive powerhouse. While the game tries to turn those relationship-building encounters into a narrative, that effort falls flat compared to the rest of the game, and I’ve skipped the little vignettes to get back to the action. While the small-town chat and glimpse into life might be great for a more relaxed game, I cared little for the rather uninspiring stories of townspeople trying to talk to me about their lives in record stores or as historians. The soundtrack is on point – calming and calming as you walk through the cozy land of the living, but appropriately tuned and loud in the nightmare.
A notable lack of multiplicity becomes apparent when one delves deeper into the dreams, but that didn’t detract from my experience. Although the game repeatedly plows through many of the same creatures, the multitude of tools available will keep things fresh until the end. The constant drip of upgrades makes every run a pleasure, even if you end prematurely. A lucid dreaming option is great for players who want to make significant progress on every run regardless of other factors. Clear dreaming gives the players additional defense with each run and ensures long-term success. Essentially a way to add a difficulty slider to the core roguelike formula, this option is an excellent choice for those looking for a far more forgiving entry point.
If you’re an old roguelike lover who’s into things like the Binding of Isaac or the Dungeons of Dredmor, Dreamscaper is for you. If you are new to the ranks of procedurally generated dungeon crawls with the new era of roguelites like Rogue Legacy or Hades, Dreamscaper is for you. Anyway, smart design choices and surreal vibes surround the experience, making it an excellent summer surprise.