Dream Alone (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 14.07.2018

Review for Dream Alone on Nintendo Switch

There is a Switch game with quality as low as the deepest abyss, and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between shovelware and copy-cat, between deficient and defective, and it lies in the pit of man's fear and the summit of his knowledge. This is a Cubed3 review of a Dream Alone on Nintendo Switch, and it is not exactly a glowing one…

Know what is popular with kids these days? German expressionist silent films. That is not to say that concept in itself is a bad idea to apply to a videogame. Any idea can work. What matters is execution. Dream Alone is such an example of some ideas that sounded decent on paper, but when it came time to executing them, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

First things first; the developer of Dream Alone has a very superficial understanding of what German expressionism is. Copying elements of Tim Burton's production designer is not how it is done. There is more to German expressionism than black and white and worn film quality. It was a style of filmmaking that was used to emphasise nightmarish qualities that relied heavily on texture, harsh angles and stark lighting. The developer really fails to capture what this style entails and, even on its own merits, Dream Alone's art is wanting. It resembles something more like Braid without colour, or a very poor-man's LIMBO.

As if things weren't ugly enough, the graphics are made worse by having to look at them through a road-kill filter that makes an already derivative looking game look like cat-vomit has been smeared over the display. The extremely aggressive film-grain filter that is trying to emulate the aesthetics of a worn out film projector makes the visuals constantly flicker and flash. Looking at Dream Alone for extended periods will cause headaches, nausea, and possibly a seizure. It is like staring into the Ark of the Covenant from the well of souls; don't look at it.

Screenshot for Dream Alone on Nintendo Switch

Remember LIMBO - the game that revitalised the cinematic-platformer sub-genre and spawned countless copy-cats? Dream Alone is imitation number 486 in a long line of Playdead derivatives. There are some attempts to add a few wrinkles to the formula, namely the ability to shift to three different realities. However, all of it is a ruse to hide the fact that Dream Alone actually has no new tricks and the reality shifting is a shallow gimmick that adds more filler than substance. There are too many instances of fumbled game design throughout that glare out as poor puzzle design, or even verge on kaizo-trap territory.

Of all the things that Dream Alone could have taken from Playdead, why couldn't the team have copied the jumping mechanics? This kid sucks at jumping. He doesn't even really jump; instead, he slowly begins to levitate and then drops. It does not feel like jumping at all and is extremely imprecise and never looks natural. The protagonist can't even do short little hops to adjust for gaps or for maintaining a flow. Every time he jumps, it is a fixed height with no variation at all. This is probably the worst jumping in a 2D platformer ever designed. On top of terrible jumping, this kid moves so slowly. It takes almost five seconds to pull himself up on a ledge and that is if the game doesn't glitch and he falls anyway.

Dream Alone seems terrible so far, but maybe it does have some better qualities? It does not. The way the designers have placed enemies is both unfair and illogical - as if they were designed by someone with a vendetta. There also seems to be some bugginess with the scripting, as enemies do not always spawn consistently in the same patterns. Sometimes they will come out wrong, making a situation impassable without dying a laughable rag-doll death. These are the issues that run through the core of Dream Alone and none of the reality shifting gimmicks do anything to circumvent them. These are design issues that are the result of a lack of understanding of why people liked LIMBO. It is easy to picture the game designer cynically commenting how in LIMBO or INSIDE there were one-hit kills and how those were hard games, so that would mean Dream Alone would have to be just as hard. Instead of designing levels with enemy placement in mind, the designer would just pepper levels with spawning points for enemies to just clumsily appear without any thought.

Screenshot for Dream Alone on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

There could have been potential for Dream Alone to be at least a run-of-the-mill adventure platformer. Instead, the developer chose to see how far it could make a game so infuriatingly bad. It plays with the grace of a gorilla's knuckles being smashed in with a metal bat and it always looks like it's being viewed through squinting eyelashes, while a child is switching the lights on and off with great rapidity. Nothing in Dream Alone makes any sense at all; it is a void that sucks everything where no light can escape.

Developer

WarSaw Games

Publisher

Fat Dog Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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