107 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 33.8 hrs on record
Posted: Feb 23 @ 1:59am
Updated: Feb 24 @ 4:35am

Before you purchase this game, you need to keep one thing in mind: this is NOT a remake. Let me go over that again. THIS IS NOT A REMAKE. It's a reimagining of the original Yume Nikki. Anyone expecting the same exact game as the original, but in 3D, is dreaming themselves. Trust me, you're just going to end up massively disappointing yourself.

I managed to finish the majority of the game and got the two endings (still hunting down the collectibles). I'm going to throw this out there for you Yume Nikki fans: you're either going to love it or you're going to HATE it. I mean, by god, look at the reviews here...

The original Yume Nikki is a cult hit RPG Maker game that came out on 2004. But instead of being an RPG, it's a top-down exploration game where you explore massive dream worlds and collect Effects to change your appearance and grant yourself abilities. What was memorable about it were the bizarre imagery and sullen atmosphere, both of which managed to touch our hearts.

YUMENIKKI -DREAM DIARY- is a 3D nonlinear puzzle platformer made in a similar vein to indie games like Inside and Little Nightmares. I'm a fan of puzzle platformers and I think it's a fine choice for an explorative game like Yume Nikki. Just like the original game, -DREAM DIARY- stars a young girl (whom we all know as Madotsuki) who lives alone in a small apartment at a modern Japanese setting. For whatever reason, Madotsuki refuses to leave her small sanctuary and prefers to sleep and explore the dream worlds locked away in the dark depths of her mind. She encounters strange beings; some friendly and some hostile.

-DREAM DIARY- has a small degree of open-endedness, but nowhere near the scope of the original game. From the beginning, there are several worlds you can enter and explore. But unlike the original game, navigation is simple and there were few opportunities to encounter alternate exits that lead to different worlds. At some points, you will encounter a dead end because you don't have a necessary item to progress. So naturally, there will be some backtracking and you would have to check other worlds for the items you need.

Some sections are sidescrolling areas with a fixed camera, while others allow you to travel in three-dimensional space where you explore a large, open area. While the original Yume Nikki focused on collecting Effects, -DREAM DIARY- only seems to have a select few Effects and a large number of Collectibles (which will appear in Madotsuki's diary in the real world). And of course, some other importants items like yen and keys that allow you to progress deeper into the worlds.

The Toriningen are no longer monsters that try to capture Madotsuki and imprison her in some remote area. Now they have a taste for human flesh. Not only that, there are other monsters also out to kill Madotsuki. Of course, dying is a just a minor setback and it only restarts you at the last checkpoint.

For some fans of the original game, this different gameplay may not sit well with them and I can understand why. Those of us who loved the original Yume Nikki were enamoured by the seemingly endless and vast interconnected worlds. And despite the lack of a story and character descriptions, we grew attached to Kikiyama's unique creations. With numerous worlds and Effects that change your appearance, the original game had a sandbox structure where you rarely need specific Effects to progress into different areas.

-DREAM DIARY- is not that kind of game. In fact, there are only 5 Effects in the game, all of which are necessary for progression and none that are purely cosmetic. And admittedly, I miss this aspect of the original game. Changing Madotsuki's appearance and have her use those Effects could've been fun in itself, so that was a missed opportunity.

The visuals certainly do the game justice. From the familiar character designs and new monsters, abstract worlds and multiple cameos of past images, it's a real joy seeing them all rendered in 3D (Uboa was surprisingly disappointing though; he's just a face that showed up for one second). It's nice to see that some of the familiar characters have a little more to them than just a single reaction (e.g. you can actually interact with Poniko and Monoko is an enemy). However, the animations are a bit choppy at times.

I enjoyed the grim atmosphere and I like how there were cutscenes that shed a little more light into Madotsuki's personality. She's clearly afraid of mannequins, she tries to help Monoe with whatever issues she has (and the ending of that little subplot is depressing), and it took her a certain amount of time to calm herself after having a nightmare about a dead person she had killed in her dream.

I also liked the music; some are remixed from the original Yume Nikki tracks, some are completely new. The repetitive nature of the original tracks is still there, but they're a little more varied to prevent them from sounding like 3-second loops.

As much as I liked the game on its own, I do have some disappointments. The dreams don't feel as vast as the original game's due to less worlds and multiple entrances to the same worlds, which feel unnecessary and redundant. For example, the train connects to multiple areas that were already in the Nexas, so it plays more of a role of fast travel rather than being its own area.

You never truly feel lost when exploring. Most of the initial worlds will have a linear path that leads to a specific dream ending that forces Madotsuki to wake up. The original game had a multitude of looping worlds. But in -DREAM DIARY-, there's only one (the Mall, through the 2F/3F doors). It's not even seamless.

The character animations and sound effects are limited.

The puzzles can be either shallow or a bit obtuse because you're missing a specific item and you'd have to backtrack to find it, which can get annoying. There are actually quite a few hidden items that are easy to miss if you're just wandering out carelessly.

The glitches can be pretty frustrating. The most common one I see is people unable to grab a specific ledge at the pier, but tuning your video settings seems to fix the problem. And sometimes, Madotsuki's jump or using one of her abilities may cause me to clip through the floor, killing me instantly. The framerate can be inconsistent; in fact, stay away from the "Best" picture quality and go as high as "Good." This game also doesn't seem to like me running other programs in the background, so I pretty much have to close everything except Steam.

Considering this is a reimagining, -DREAM DIARY- is in no way a replacement for the original Yume Nikki. Instead, I'd like to see it as another side to Kikiyama's world, maybe even a companion game to the original YN. Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but the game pretty much met my expectations so far from just the teaser screenshots and trailers. I NEVER expected -DREAM DIARY- to be just a outright copy of the original game. I recognize as its own game, regardless of its source material.

If you're expecting a true remake of Yume Nikki, -DREAM DIARY- is definitely not it. Some people might even call it a sequel of sorts, but I'd have to disagree. It's pretty much its own different beast with a minimalist narrative that takes a different turn. It's based on Yume Nikki, but it's not trying to be EXACTLY Yume Nikki, if that makes any sense. It's a new perspective of a premise we knew and love.

What I liked about -DREAM DIARY-: its visuals, its musical score, the intrigue from exploring a surreal landscape, the more meaningful interactions with the NPCs and the puzzle-solving that encourages you to be diligent in exploring. Is it better than the original game? Nah, I don't think so. In fact, I didn't have expectations that this game will exceed my enjoyment of the original. Is it entertaining? For me, yes. I think it's a decent puzzle platformer with adventure elements.
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4 Comments
Orion-the-Absol Feb 24 @ 3:50pm 
Admittedly, part of the reason why I purchased -DREAM DIARY- is simply because it had "Yume Nikki" in it. Another part is because the screenshots and trailers don't look too shabby, so I gave it a chance. And yet another part... because I love puzzle platformers. That's enough for me to justify my purchase, and I don't regret it. If the game did turn out much worse than it is now, I wouldn't sugarcoat it and outright call it a bad game. This game doesn't come close to that level of bad.
Orion-the-Absol Feb 24 @ 3:47pm 
I don't think -DREAM DIARY- is as bad as some people make it out to be. Instead of a replacement, I see it as a separate experience from the original game. Those are my honest thoughts, contrary to what some people are saying. They might accuse people who liked the game to be "shills" or just have this preset mind that the game is going to be good anyway because nostalgia goggles. These are just some obnoxiously paranoid rantings in an attempt to discredit anyone who likes the game, in a similar vein to political mudslinging. This had been happening before and after release. They came in, knowing they're not going to like the game. And here they are, not liking the game and complaining about it. They also go out of their way to convince people that Kadokawa is not to be trusted and Kikiyama was never involved with the game, despite having little insider info and no proof. Best thing to do is just filter out the noise and make your own judgements. It's a waste of energy to humor them
Orion-the-Absol Feb 24 @ 3:45pm 
@Omoikane: Thank you for reading. I try not to make too many "the original did it better" comments because I wouldn't be looking at the game on its own merits. That'd be like saying my next cheeseburger is bad because it doesn't taste as good as my last one, even though it doesn't actually taste that awful. Comparisons are inevitable for a game like this, but the actual quality of the game shouldn't be judged solely on how it compares to its source material. That wouldn't be fair at all. They're two different games that so happen to be part of the same franchise. That's like saying Zelda II is a terrible game because it doesn't play anything like the first Zelda. But if you don't let the comparisons cloud your judgment, Zelda II is actually a pretty decent game.
Omoikane Feb 24 @ 5:32am 
Thanks for one of the best reviews of this game. I felt like you kept your views as unbaised as you could.