Sometimes you can just tell how much effort and care went into making the game, and a good example of this can be seen in Dreamscaper. Designed by a tiny team of three, this little roguelike is impressive both in terms of story and gameplay.
At its core, Dreamscaper is a story about the importance of mental wellbeing and the formation of meaningful relationships. You play as a faceless woman named Cassidy, who recently moved from her hometown of Backhill to a new town called Redhaven. However, Cassidy is quite lonely and she is clearly dealing with the untreated trauma from her past that still haunts her daily life. In order to deal with her problems, Cassidy thus relives her past and every night she faces her inner problems in her sleep, which take the form of randomly generated dungeons, created in important places in her history.
The fight is simple but strategic, as in most rooms you have to fight your way through several enemies using a combination of basic attacks, special moves, blocks and dodges. You haven’t seen anything like this before – we were especially reminded of Hades many times – but there is a good rhythm for combat, and the skill ceiling seems to be quite high. Things like doing perfectly timed dodges or spacing your attacks just enough to maximize damage seem invariably rewarding, and there are quite a few weapon varieties to keep the runs fresh and interesting.
We were especially thrilled by the constant drive for progress. Every clean room will reward you something useful, whether it’s another health drop or an extra key, or a new special attack or a weapon to fool around with. New gear is almost always an improvement on your old kit, and the random nature of their appearance means that you always have an incentive to expand and try new playstyles.
This progression is not limited to dungeon runs. When you inevitably bite the dust and wake up the next morning, there are many currencies you have accumulated during your run that you can then “spend” in your waking life to increase your chances of overcoming the dream world. Things like meditation and sketches of new art in Cassidy’s Sketchbook will bring you welcome stats hits and new gear pool items, as well as enjoyable narrative connections on how the power of self-love can improve mental fortitude.
These awakened parts of the game also have a relationship building element and can further boost your chances in dungeons. Cassidy can travel between different places in Redhaven (like a park or a bar) and meet a variety of locals that help make the city less intimidating. Giving gifts that suit their interests will increase the level of confidant relations, and then it will take the form of a passive buff gameplay that you can use before entering the dungeon. These wearable buffs not only significantly influence your strategies, but the cutscenes that play out between Cassidy and her friends often fill more gaps in her mysterious past, offering some touching and fascinating insights into each person’s personality.
The only complaints we can really make with Dreamscaper are nagging. First, it’s a very “safe” roguelite, so if you’ve already spent thousands of hours on games like Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells and Hades, Dreamscaper is not a breath of fresh air that will help rekindle your love for the genre. Plus, handheld text can be incredibly small, making this game pretty much the same. must play in the dock.
Dreamscaper is really good; this game certainly deserves more attention than it received. He compensates for the lack of originality with his heart. A surprisingly emotional story, helpful progression system, fast-paced combat, and scenic visuals create an experience that we recommend you take seriously.