DreamsCom '21: As Seen On Stream
Ancient Dangers: A Bat’s Tale#
by Media Molecule
Trust us when we tell you that you have no idea how much chaos two teenage orcs and a hard-boiled bat can cause. It won’t be too long until you find out for yourself. Vanquish marauding skeletons and rack up lightning-powered combos in this challenging combat-focused brawler, in which Zelda-esque bomb puzzles and a God Of War-style berserk mode help you tear through dungeons to reach untold treasure - and legendary foes. You can brave the fight alone, or even bring a friend along on your quest with couch co-op. You can’t spell ‘twins’ without ‘win’, after all.
by Media Molecule
Longtime Dreams fans will be well acquainted with Media Molecule lead designer John Beech’s wooden train game - now officially named Tren. A labour of love that Beech began shortly after the launch of Dreams itself, it was his way of making a project that was “small enough that I could do, that could also be triple-A quality in terms of finish and polish.” Indeed, the visual detail is astonishing - but Tren’s personality really shines through the physics-based puzzle design, which sees Beech inventively repurposing track switches, turntables and more to lay out a series of challenging courses to transport cargo safely along. With the support of a team now behind him, Beech is even working on a ‘create your own track’ mode - the perfect inclusion for a game all about reconnecting with the joy of building and playing.
by Media Molecule and the Dreams coMmunity
Everybody’s favourite super-ripped space-faring penguin (what, you know another one? Exactly) has had quite the month. The first three levels of Megapenguin Rehatched - an ongoing collaborative sci-fi adventure between us at Mm and, er, you - launched at the very end of June. Since then, we’ve seen our intrepid science officer all over social media, as creators have fun making him bust a move, find love, and even explode. (Easy now - let’s get him home to the rest of his fleet in one piece, shall we?) Team Megapenguin have been playing through - and cackling at - the earliest coMmunity-created level submissions, and have some plans of their own for the story going forward. Watch this, er, space.
Every so often, a Dreams creation comes along that baffles everyone at Media Molecule. Afterimage is one of them. Through careful sculpts and clever lighting, Oscar Hocking (known in game as rocky_with_a_gun) has achieved a flat-shaded art style that’s on a level with Kentucky Route Zero - and that looks like nothing else we’ve seen in Dreams. This is a surreal narrative experience that plays out among a palette of gentle pastels, as you help protagonist Hunrosa work out why she’s seeing the ghost of her best friend - who’s still very much alive, by the way - and discover there’s more than one way to be haunted.
The international team behind the truly astonishing animated samurai series Noguchi’s Bell have arrived at DreamsCom - with some brand-new footage to boot. Noguchi’s Bell episode 1 left our hero in the care of an unlikely mentor: this stunning update shows the two sparring with fluidity, style and no little humour as the shopkeeper trains Noguchi for the dangerous trials that await him on his quest for the truth. We also get a peek at a never-before-seen character, too, who’s overlooking a cityscape burning with orange light and buzzing with hovercars - you can expect this epic journey to go to some unexpected places, then.
Pig Detective and the Beast of Boffington#
by Team Pig Detective
You know him. You love him. (And if you don’t: please head into Dreams and play the full Pig Detective back catalogue so far, or heaven help us we will throw you out of this magazine. Somehow.) Yes, the porcine PI - voiced as always by Mm’s very own Ed Hargrave - returns in this spine-chilling, rib-tickling tale of pig versus beast, the demo for which is a must-play this DreamsCom. It’s got it all: danger, intrigue, callbacks for the fans, classy UI design, a catchy jingle, and an interactive vending machine full of pineapple pies. A particularly delicious detail is mention of the map you find being merely your “first”: the prospect of another multi-hour oink-and-click adventure at this quality level is almost too thrilling for words.
Revolutionary in every sense of the word, surrounded_’s head-spinning platformer Purgatory Panic is a brutally challenging, devilishly clever treat. Their pedigree in sharp 2D art (Ultimate 6-in-1 Retro Game Multicart) is on full display, but that’s where the similarities with their past work end. Evolving from their one-button history, Purgatory Panic is a platformer set within perplexing spiral stages that twist and mutate, seeming to move toward you from deep within the screen as you venture through them. The movement and wall-jumping feels as tight and responsive as genre classics such as Celeste or Super Meat Boy. However, this has no intention of playing second fiddle to its influences. The confidence of its singular art style, engrossing gameplay and hypnotic beats from landroid9000 sets Purgatory Panic apart from the jump.
Released way back in Dreams Early Access, Porto pushed all the right buttons - earning its reputation as one of the Dreamiverse’s original greats. Two years on, Cubixphere has resurrected the lovable bot complete with an all-new box of tricks. This wonderfully meta standalone demo sends Porto on a brain-busting adventure into the depths of DreamsCom itself. There are new puzzles to tackle, treacherous platforms to cross and a crate’s worth of Mm and CoMmunity characters hidden backstage. The art direction is familiar but refined, whilst the conundrums are consistently well thought-out. All it takes is the touch of a button, and classic Porto reveals itself to be back - and better than ever.
Brocery Store 2#
DreamsCom’s scariest demo will put you off grocery shopping for life. In the much-loved Brocery Store, you - the titular Bro - raze a supermarket to the ground using your bare hands. The sequel does something very different. You are no longer the villain of the piece, but an ordinary consumer just trying to buy the essentials. The Bro, in this case, is out to stop you. Low lighting and grey tones make every step through the store terrifying, our footsteps echoing uncomfortably as we sneak around the aisles in search of certain items - before the Bro spots us. Thanks to best-in-class audio design, the Amnesia-esque chases are sweaty and awful, even before you notice the killer blow RbdJellyfish has landed: making Brocery Store 2 VR-compatible. Good luck, and don’t forget to bring your own bag. BODY bag, that is.
Lou Moves In#
Warm-hearted, mega-talented character animator byvsen introduced the Dreams coMmunity to Lou a while back. DreamsCom gives us a few more clues into the dino-roo’s short feature film: the trailer, set deep in a forest, reveals the cosy abode that he’ll be moving into (in addition to using a visual gag to subtly suggest that he might encounter some bad luck, or perhaps his own clumsiness, along the way). Byvsen’s booth will let you get a closer look at Lou’s new home, and endear you to this delightful character even further - if you leave without sampling one of the many hot waffles Lou has thoughtfully prepared for hungry show-goers, you’ve a heart of stone.
by NauticalSquatch, SoundsLikeTreble, VORiUM-, PieceOfCraft, gavinjta007, JTBKnuggetsauce, ghostfruit64, duckenomics, RurouniDan, Typhus667
Our first glimpse at the sequel to the hilarious and terrifying FPS DEADZONE led to several important Mm meetings being disrupted, as we breathlessly explained how the weapons “actually shift into other weapons”, and talked at length about “the enemy who wields a body like a club”. The now-expanded team, spearheaded by NauticalSquatch, is unparalleled in its talent; the asset showcase itself is a pulpy presentation that harkens back to the good old days of DOOM (props to celebrated Dreams monster designer Typhus667, whose work is terrifyingly evident here). It’s a small tease, all told, but an incredibly professional one - what do we have to rip and tear to get our hands on some gameplay?
Dream Chef: World Tour#
The demo for Dream Chef: World Tour nails the visual novel aesthetic, with clean but stylish UI that’s reminiscent of the Persona games, painterly 2D character art, and a delightful lo-fi soundtrack. You’ve haplessly wandered into a restaurant on the brink of closure: when another unexpected guest drops by, it suddenly falls to you (as is so often the case in videogames) to rescue the situation. And this is where things get - pardon the pun - dicey, as you use your motion-controlled imp and its tethered hand to throw together as much spaghetti bolognese as possible in the time limit, Diner Dash style. The slapstick physics make things chaotic, but there’s a lot to sink your teeth into here: you’ll likely feel compelled to improve your skills and steady your hands enough to cook your way to the top.
by beardofcats88, pinkbelt, oLiamS47o, TAPgiles, animeboy0021, RadLaddy, DissObeyGames
DreamsFest is not your ordinary coMmunity-run event: it’s a full-on virtual music festival taking place all around the globe. Pick anywhere in the world and watch as some of Dreams’ most talented musicians perform “live” on stage. The entire operation is being directed by beardofcats88, who’s had plenty of experience handling large-scale projects like this one - and it shows. You’ll get your own DreamsFest passport and activities designed to ensure you have the experience of a lifetime (you can even design your own tent to pitch at the festival in-game right now). An incredible PlayStation-powered show from the comfort of our own homes - and ZERO MUD GUARANTEED? Count us in.
MODI: Son Of Thor#
Crackling with lightning and dripping with atmosphere, MODI: Son Of Thor is an exceptionally well-designed, polished little action-platformer that’s still in development. The brainchild behind this is 3D artist and animator Shane Marshall - and from the first few seconds of the first chapter, it’s clear that this is a game in the hands of a professional. Responsive hammer-swinging combat, challenging platforming and a slick movement system
show incredible potential. Sure enough, Marshall has a few updates to share on how the next chapter is coming along - so if your first taste of this pint-sized God Of War sends sparks flying, be sure to check out our developer interview on Twitch.
The Crystal Guardian#
by Adventum Games
It’s always special to see large-scale worlds being made in Dreams, but The Crystal Guardian truly looks to be in a league of its own. The original trailer for this puzzle-platformer made quite the impact across social media, and this one is surely set to be even bigger, featuring in-world gameplay. The wide vistas on display have the air of Breath Of The Wild or Genshin Impact about them, with tempting landmarks in the distance calling you to explore. There are detailed looks at the sunlight-dappled forests and mysterious ruins you’ll be exploring alongside your twin-tailed fox friend - and a brief glimpse of what looks to be a grappling ability. The enemies you might be fighting remain shrouded for now, but we’ll be asking more questions in our interview about that stone golem teased on Adventum Games’ Twitter account.
Yah_Deh’s inviting, cosy virtual toy shop is legendary in the Dreamiverse: there are few creations quite like it. Originally made for the Winter Holidays Jam but since updated to be fit for all seasons, it’s a painstakingly well-organised (and well-optimised) display of its creator’s brilliant toy designs, which often come from their Twitch stream viewers’ suggestions and requests; the punny Foodimals, in particular, feel as though they could be a mainstream hit, including Waffle Cat, Sushi Dragon, Parferret and Avocadodo Toast among their squishy ranks. Happily, Yah_Deh has created a version of the shop for this year’s DreamsCom show floor - if you’ve ever wanted to take a picture with a Pancake Shark, now’s your chance.
This is the Dreamiverse's first full gameplay demo for LyzLdy’s nearly two-year project, a smart survival game that would make even Bear Grylls shudder. Featuring world design and elements from notable collaborator IansaneArtist, SurvivEscape puts the player in a position of being incapacitated and alone, but hands them a set of realistic tools - including a fully functional clock and compass system - with which they can puzzle their way out of trouble. It poses a gripping challenge, with players fighting to keep themselves not only mentally stable but also physically able. Lyz has been streaming development regularly, and it’s been fascinating to watch the project grow - but will YOU thrive similarly while out in these wilds? Only one way to find out.
Last year, the Shaz booth made by this TeamPD member blew us all away with its interactivity and wit. We could hardly contain our excitement, then, when we saw a playable demo featuring the much-loved cube from down under on offer at this year’s DreamsCom. It kicks off with some tasty licks by Prince_Tahra, followed by a cutscene revealing there’s a lot more to this world than just the titular mullet-toting Aussie. This bullet-riddled romp involves a daring heist, some gun-powered puzzle-solving, and an extremely silly (but logical) method of locomotion - to reveal much more might spoil a few of the laugh-out-loud surprises in store here. And anyway, DirtyHarolds - yes, you, reading this. Shouldn’t you be working on Shaz?
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