Dreamscaper (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Eric Ace 19.09.2021

Review for Dreamscaper  on Nintendo Switch

Hardly a week or two goes by where there is some new rogue-like hitting the stage, with its promise of endless replayability and oft-touted 'procedurally generated maps.' Dreamscaper is that newest entry, very clearly on the heels of the very well-received Hades in terms of pretty much everything in its design, short of its story. Players take the role of a young woman who moves to a big city, and deals with her mental problems while sleeping, naturally in the form of an Action-RPG of bashing through dungeons and enemies.

Developed by a new studio named Afterburner Studios, comes this clearly Hades-inspired game, and while that isn't meant to be dismissive, the gameplays is nearly the exact same as that hit title. While Dreamscaper has some problems, there are some legitimately good parts of the experience that were surprising. Before delving deeper, one key distinction needs to be made between the 'core game' and the 'core loop,' because this is built entirely around the small core game being played over and over, with everything combined representing the core loop.

Much like many rogue-likes, the entire thing could be completed very quickly if the player was good enough with good enough stats. That of course doesn't happen, so the player dies, restarts, gains a tiny bit of power and replays over and over. This is nothing new for the genre, but it is brought up because this is where a major divide in the game's quality comes from. The core game experience is largely very well done. Exploring each new room is great fun, from the quick battles, to the frequent new treasure drops or upgrades there is a lot to keep the player engaged. Every run a random assortment of load outs are given which give fresh experiences. The issue comes from how slow the overall loop progresses.

One of the most egregious problems is the way the story unfolds. It is not a joke to say it was four or five hours in, and only around then was the barest premise of the story that this woman came from some small town and was having a hard time in the big city. This is a huge oversight because the theme/atmosphere is one of the stronger points. Why the developer could not have just thrown some story right up front is a major detraction. Consider its predecessor Hades, where the story was simple 'Zag hates his dad and wants to escape Hell,' it gives a reason to do anything. Players feel the frustration of getting drug back over and over. In Dreamscaper it is just some girl that you go into the dream world for. Why? Who knows. Is there any story about it? Not really.

Screenshot for Dreamscaper  on Nintendo Switch

The dungeon experience is enjoyable and well done. Each run, players are given a random weapon, projectile and spell. These range from a fast knife, a baseball bat, and even the Buster Sword from Final Fantasy VII. One thing that is fun in here are the Easter Eggs from other videogames and themes. Like FFVII mentioned, but other references to things like Harry Potter's wand, and the anime YuYu Hakusho with the finger gun. The dream world is a perfect excuse to throw that stuff in, and it is fun seeing them. Problems arise in the dungeon due to how wild the difficulty scales.

The first dungeon is very easy, the average room has two guys in it, that take about two hits each. Even the first boss, while fun in its pattern, goes down fairly easy. Dungeon two has an insane jump. Some enemies take an expected two-three hits, but there are multiple obstacles spamming projectiles, and enemies frequently turn into punching bags suddenly that take 10 or more hits from even the slow, powerful weapons.

For faster weapons, expect to be bashing on the same enemy for a minute straight. It is just not necessary and really destroys the fast pace the first world sets. Overall, it was surprising how good it was across most of its aspects. The difficulty jump is one thing that really holds it back, and the very, very… very… slow progression overall. The worst part is that unlike, say, Hades, everything is largely presented up front, so among all the loops it gets repetitive, because there is nothing new to do. That is what really holds it back.

Screenshot for Dreamscaper  on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

For an unknown studio they come out swinging pretty good with Dreamscaper, the core game is fairly engaging and interesting, but the core loop has some serious progression issues, as well as bad difficulty balance. Trying new moves and weapons is the highlight of the experience, but the very slow lack of progress and difficulty walls hold this back from being truly great.

Developer

Afterburner Studios

Publisher

Freedom Games

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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