22 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 20.0 hrs on record (13.7 hrs at review time)
Posted: Aug 25, 2020 @ 9:19pm
Updated: Aug 25, 2020 @ 9:21pm
Product received for free

Early Access Review
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I wish I could walk my dreams every night and face my fears.

Dreamscaper is challenging top-down action game that explores the protagonist Cassidy's present and past lives through the repetition of day and night cycles. The game entered into Early Access recently after having a Prologue that is still available to try.

The action-roguelite game is played out in the dream world. When she goes to sleep, she enters her dream dungeon every time, restarting from the beginning after a previous death, or continuing on a previous journey from before. Facing a dungeon of 6 floors, she will only tackle one floor per night, and have waking days in between.

On the flip side, the waking day is limited to only between 6 and 9 PM. She has a life, moving from a small rural town to a bigger city, she has a day job and so her social life is outside of that time frame. With a strict bedtime at or before 9 PM each night, she has 3 hours at most to wander from location to location and to interact with the people in town. There are only 4 locations and 6 NPCs right now, hopefully there will be more added in the future.

Why is the waking time so important for this game? Because it allow you to take some of your dream world loot and use them to craft gifts for the NPCs, who in turn give you permanent friendship progression that lead to stat modifiers or items that you can find in-game. Of course having these friendship status upgrades also allows you to learn about each individual NPC as well as the protagonist more. You do not have to craft gifts with all of your loot, as you can also choose to pick a better load-out set for the next run if you spend some of this as well. Just spending time with the NPCs will yield you friendship boosts, but giving them gifts that they love will move that bar along much faster.

There's not an extensive amount of story-revealing lines, but there is enough to keep the player interested in going back to interact with the NPCs in the waking world. Though the break in the action can sometimes feel awkward, so I tend to choose to continue sleeping until the end of the run. At the end, I will do my crafting and gift-giving and try to make a few friends.

I would like to see an additional option to just play a run to the end without stopping. But any time you are in the waking world, you can quit the game and it will save for you, so it's nice to be able to break up the entire dungeon into smaller chunks if you need to break for other things in your schedule. Though this also means that I typically end up with more ingredients and craft more gifts than I can travel and give out in the time available. So I am still trying to figure out how to balance between the two.

The Action
In the dream world, all of the action takes place. Cassidy is exploring her childhood memories and facing her fears through brute force. You start with a loadout melee and ranged weapon, along with a shield and a special attack. You can hold up to 2 special attacks at any time during the run. You start with a dodging ability as well and can exchange for others that you come across.

The melee, ranged, and dodge moves have all such different feels that you want to make sure to get used to them whenever you pick up something new. The melee and ranged weapons all have different reaches and ranges. The different dodges have different animations, durations, and also effective movement spacing, so using a room that you have already cleared to get used to them is ideal. You might want to save your ranged attacks since there's limits, but the others are unlimited. The special attacks only have cooldowns to wait through.

You will be able to pick up various keepsakes that are essentially passives to make or break your run. Actually they always help. What breaks the run is typically in the later levels when the enemies are so tanky and hit so hard that they just become kind of unfair to deal with.

There are six floors total and only 3 bosses, that means some floors are going to have filler enemies in place in the boss rooms. The bosses are on floors 1, 3, and 6. The game should see development toward putting new bosses into these other spaces as well. I look forward to those.

Each room you enter will have its exits locked until all of the enemies are cleared. There are special challenge rooms that if you meet the criteria given, you will also get a random drop when the enemies are cleared. The combat is also broken up by a couple of different simple puzzle rooms that also yield random drops. The puzzles are either 1. rotating pipe pieces to connect them or 2. a simple and very small Minesweeper logic room.

Controls
I only used a controller, it worked really well. I think I would recommend a controller for this game. The combat is fairly smooth, and the controls are very responsive. My biggest problem is parrying, I can't seem to get the timing right, but that's something for me to work on.

Graphics
Really nice environments in both the waking and the dream worlds. Smooth lines with 3D models in a low-poly appearance and some nice color balance work really well together. The protagonist and the NPCs have no faces, so that may take a little getting used to. But the animations used for these characters despite having no faces convey various feelings quite well. The camera angle is fixed and follows around the protagonist pretty well, In bigger rooms, this may seem a bit too zoomed out at times.

Music & Sounds
Pleasant and fitting soundtrack, and the sound effects work well too. No complaints here.

Pricing
Current Early Access price at Launch is $19.99 base. I am 13+ hours in, and haven't even seen the final boss yet. I keep getting completely destroyed whenever I make it to the final floor just by regular enemies. The game has a good variety of weapons, passives, special attacks, shields, and dodging to make it quite interesting. What I am saying is that the content is already worth the price.

Where to Improve
-I would love to see the enemies not being so tanky later on, kind of feels unfair on the final two floors.
-More environments, both worlds, and more NPCs and maybe enemy types.
-Definitely needs more bosses. Fighting filler enemies in the boss rooms feel awkward.
-I would like an option to toggle at the start of a run whether to run until death or to wake in between floors. I find the breaks awkward, especially if you are leveling up friendship points in between and sit through a couple of lengthier conversations. Then jumping right into a harder floor just feels wrong.
-A log of the conversations recorded into the journal for the interactions with the NPCs that have already transpired, like the memories that you can find.
-Various bugs. I have had the game crash on me about three times, unclear reason. I don't mind usually, but once I bought a legendary loadout item to try to conserve money for a run for that 6K achievement and it crashed. Restarting I lost my loadout and my resources, I was not a happy camper.

Conclusion
Dreamscaper in its attempt to mash together the action roguelite along with a story-driven set of characters that lead to in-game unlocks with actual character development in small conversation bits will create some awkward moments for sure. It's daring and overall fairly enjoyable. Some rough edges to hammer out, but I have really no major complaints for it ultimately offers great fun.

Another indie gem in the making. Hopefully it will be polished to really shine.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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4 Comments
Star Stone Sep 4, 2020 @ 7:44am 
:cadrialike:
Star Stone Sep 4, 2020 @ 7:44am 
Hi, could you like my reviews too? I'll return liking all of your reviews, write a comment if you do, have a nice day! (Pls delete this comment after reading)
YQMaoski Aug 26, 2020 @ 10:08am 
Yeah, I think it's just everything expanded from the prologue right now. From what I can tell, there's more items, gifts, and also 1 more boss. Some gameplay tweaks in place. I am hoping that the final version when it's all said and done will have a lot more stuff. Right now the filler enemies in boss rooms in the levels I mentioned is just so awkward.
janner66 Aug 25, 2020 @ 9:47pm 
I played and reviewed the prologue. Sounds like it is more of the same. Thanks for the review.