June is right around the corner. DreamsCom ‘22 submissions are open. And here in the UK, the spicy orb in the sky creeps ever closer to our non-air conditioned houses, grinning all the while.
That’s right: summer is officially, finally, very nearly here! What better way to spend it than indoors, sweating, checking out five truly brilliant Dreams creations on your PlayStation-issue console machine? Heavenly.
Temple of Doom — Quest For The Chest#
Estimated playtime: 3+ hours
What is it about us game fans that makes us absolutely rabid for pain? We love the stuff. Can’t get enough. If Bennett Foddy’s Getting Over It was too weaksauce for you, with its encouraging narration and sweet little anecdotes, then maybe this pixelated platforming gauntlet will appeal. It’s suffering all the way down - or, rather, up. Obstacles actively berate you and laugh at you as you attempt to climb each screen. Scrawled graffiti on the walls is as likely to mock you as it is to offer tips. You’ve got to aim your stick in the direction of a platform, and judge how long to hold down the cross button to jump at just the right velocity - neither action has meters or indicators to help you line up your leaps, meaning you’ll have to form muscle-memory through trial-and-error. Then there’s the level design, lovingly crafted to send you sliding back down as much as possible, as swiftly as possible, should you make even one mistake. Think Snakes and Ladders, but instead of ladders, more snakes. The worst part? The controls are so responsive and consistent, the staging and animation so delightful, that playing this feels good even when it feels very, very bad. Proof that we’d willingly punch ourselves in the face if there was a scoreboard attached.
Estimated playtime: 5-10 mins
Fluximux’s creations offer just a brief glimpse into an alternate world, but the impressions they leave behind linger. We still think about (and often revisit) pocket-sized adventure Lystre; now, third-person action-adventure Paladine arrives, mace swinging and halo shining, to occupy our brains. We circle our heroine around strange foes veiled in grey flesh. The left trigger blocks their flailing attempts at attack, and our right bumper can unleash blows - though we must be careful to manage our stamina when a larger group arrives. So far, so Dark Souls. But it’s the world-building that most interests us. Our fight seems to be in service of a goddess; when we’re faced with a moral dilemma, a nearby note reminds us that “she said to kill them all”. The idea of a story in which the hero realises the all-powerful deity they serve may not be objectively good intrigues us - even if the ending of this short experience doesn’t end up pointing in that direction. Imagine if we were to lose our ‘morality’ halo, and perhaps our immortal status, for rebelling against the wishes of a tyrant goddess. See? Five minutes of inspiration that’ll keep our mind busy for weeks.
Estimated runtime: Looping
If you asked us who the most consistent figure in our life is, we’d probably say Lofi Girl. (What do you mean, that’s tragic? YOU’RE tragic.) But hey, even the classics get a little boring sometimes. Happily, fhoop04 has provided our next lo-fi beats obsession: this gloriously stormy night scene set in suburban Japan. Fans of Shenmue will be giddy over the details on display here, as camera angles shift and subdued tunes play. Curtains flap uproariously in the wind, rain-spattered apartment balconies glinting wetly under streetlights. Thunder rumbles, and cars trundle past concrete walls pasted wonkily with posters. Steam rises above restaurant fronts, hinting at busy kitchens within. The artist suggests this “serves as a nice screensaver”; we can confirm that whether you want to relax, study, or hurriedly write a Friday blog post after procrastinating the day away, this is the perfect accompaniment.
Prly Prkit Rdvrntures#
Estimated playtime: 45+ mins
Fabulous. Funny. Chaotic. Weird. Mega, super, ULTRA gay. These are just some of the words that spring to mind while playing Prly Prkit Rdvrntures. Described by its creator as a “drag queen frolick simulator”, this 3D platformer takes you on a glitter-strewn, laugh-out-loud silly journey through a “multiverse of Non-Brand-Specific Pocket-Sized Dollhouses”. (Seems legally watertight.) Indeed, we start by exploring a tiny plastic palace - but as the avatar of real-life drag queen HelenOfBoy, we soon find ourselves hurling through a portal into a sprawling overworld populated with talking bows and passive-aggressive dinosaurs. The story is wild and fancy-free (there’s a wonderful bit involving a slumber party with several rib-ticklingly derivative clones of Helen’s fellow drag queen, Clare Apparently) and the structure even more so. One minute we’re shopping for new outfits at ‘The Flippin’ MALL!’, the next we’ve accidentally walked through a wormhole and into Gender (true to form, it’s hilarious as it is terrifying). It’s a fever dream that prances happily from joke to joke, and the looseness of everything - the art style, the controls, the level design - is perfectly balanced by sharp, consistent comedic writing. All credit to venwave and mezzyartiist for putting Helen on our radar: suffice it to say, we’re obsessed.
SWORD OF AKAANA: Final Demo#
Estimated runtime: 45+ mins
This one’s just a whole-ass JRPG made in Dreams. We’re genuinely flabbergasted. Alright, technically it’s not whole - just a part. SWORD OF AKAANA: Final Demo may be a taste of the full game to come, but this slice is already one of the best Dreams-made open world games we’ve ever played. Drawing from series such as Xenoblade Chronicles and Kingdom Hearts, the environment design is masterful - cleverly structured vistas imply a world that stretches on endlessly. The combat system, too, is meaty and complex: you’ve got a party of three warriors to control, each with their own unique moveset. Regular melee attacks charge your SP, which can be used to unleash Arts, powerful special elemental attacks that hit hard. Arts, meanwhile, charge your Synergy gauge, which you can spend on switching between characters in the party, or unique abilities. It can be tricky to tell whether a gauge is full, and a lack of targeting system or enemy highlighting can make certain moves a little hit-and-miss - but the same could be said of Monster Hunter’s combat. The intention is clearly for the player to be tactical about spending their gauge.
We’re tempted not to get too bogged down in the details at this stage, anyway: the truly impressive thing here is the breadth of activities on offer. There’s a full-on skill tree to unlock as you level up. The various themes, composed by rukkurt, are grand and dramatic in battle, soft and nostalgic when you’re wandering the plains. A lively town (with explorable interiors) offers respite and healing at an inn, and chests to plunder. You can even use a clock face UI to change the time of day, plunging the land under cover of night, streetlamps twinkling in the square as NPCs stroll home for the day. The overall effect is astonishing. If the full game is of this quality and depth, you won’t be seeing us for weeks.
Check out the playable edition of this week's Dreamview Weekly Roundup right here in Dreams!
Which creations caught your eye in the Dreamiverse this week, and why? Tell us about your personal picks over on the official Dreams forums!(opens in new tab)
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