Game: Daydream: Forgotten Sorrow
Genre: Action, Puzzle
System: Steam (Windows)
Developer|Publisher: Frozen Line| Ravenage Games
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £ 16,74 | US $ 19,99 | EU € 19,50
Release Date: June 14th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Sparks Forge.
A Boy And His Bear
Daydream: Forgotten Sorrow is a cinematic platformer where you play as a boy and his bear on the run from some sinister nightmares. It fits in next to games such as Limbo, Little Nightmares and Another World (one that old gamers like me may remember). Just like those titles, my thoughts playing this game were that I both enjoyed and loathed moments throughout the experience. Daydream does a little to set itself apart from the crowd, but if the above list of games has not been your cup of gaming before, then Daydream will not change your mind. For me, it was a pleasant dream and nightmare, but overall I liked the experience.
Daydream keeps its story vague and open to the player’s interpretation since there is no dialogue from the characters. You play as a young boy, Griffin, who has awoken in what appears to be a dream world. Joined by your teddy companion, Birly, the goal is to reach a lighthouse. But the journey is not always pleasant. Nightmares are lucking in the shadows looking to stop you at every turn. The world is intriguing and hostile, which is mostly what kept me keen to see what the outcome of the story was.
My first impression of the game was pretty negative. On starting you’re instantly put into an action scene where you need to sprint away from a creepy hand without giving you much warning to learn the controls or get a grasp for what’s going on. I fell down a large hole first because I didn’t time the jump at the platform’s edge and second because I didn’t sprint on the jump. It amused me that once I figured out how to cross the chasm, the game saw fit to display the button to jump. From there, I found the experience to be push-pull.
During calmer moments, the game focuses on puzzling. This involves the typical push/pulling of blocks or grabbing an item and using it in the correct area. Some are little head-scratchers, but you should be able to figure it out without needing internet support. It’s here the game presents its unique mechanic, where you get to instruct your Teddy friend to carry out actions. With a hold of a button, it will highlight objects Teddy can interact with, such as levers to pull. You can also throw him up to higher-up platforms and instruct him to drop a rope ladder down. My favourite moment was when I got to fling him through a broken window so he could unlock a door on the other side. A small moment but the action made me giggle for some reason.
But it’s not all chilled puzzling. The calmness is regularly interrupted by action set pieces that test your platform skills and sometimes your patience. The trouble I have always had with games like this is the platforming is always so floaty, lacking precision; Daydream is no exception to this niggle. The common action segment has you run away from some scary threat. However, since the game world is 3D, the camera positioned at a slight angle makes navigating platforms tricky. Often I meant to jump straight forward but ended up leaping to my death as I didn’t have the best grasp of my bearings.
The section I had the most love/hate relationship with was the spider section. I loved the horror feeling and creepiness as you walked through some dark woods and even into the most disturbing spider’s nest I‘ve seen in gaming for some time. The developers seemed aware of this and even offer a warning before you started the game. There’s a moment you and Teddy are running from a big spider and Teddy would just freeze in place waiting to be grabbed. This moment was clearly scripted, and I even figured out early on to grab a torch to shoo the spider away. The problem is this didn’t work when I attempted it. So I was led to believe either the game glitched out, or another solution was in order.
People like to use the definition of insanity meme a lot in gaming (trying the same thing over and expecting different results). But in Daydream, it might be advisable to try the same thing three times just in case. It’s not helped by how you need to make quick decisions in a small window of time. There’s also a section where you ride a bike while avoiding falling rocks. It really tested my stress limits as I fought with the controls which became even more floaty.
Luckily for all my frustrations, the checkpoints are frequent. This is especially handy as the game has a hell of a lot of gotcha moments. These are moments in a game where you often get killed by a trap or enemy you will unluckily predict pouncing on you. The only way you know how to make it through is by dying first. An example is you’re casually walking through the woods, then wham! You’re hit by a trap, learning you need to actually lure an enemy into it first so you can safely make it past. Daydream is not the first game to do this and won’t be the last, but I’m not a fan of this mechanic.
Graphics for Daydream are varied and unusual at times, much like any dream. One moment you exploring castle ruins while whales fly in the sky above you; the next, you are running through factory ruins that feel dark and rusted. It’s all a bit random but it works coming across as quite beautiful. The tone regularly shifts from dark threat to light and calm. The game absolutely nails its atmosphere, really making you feel the environments that are hostile compared to when things are safe and secure. This is further emphasized by a soundtrack that accompanies the cinematic tone of the game, featuring some gorgeous piano melodies. I did encounter some odd character animations during cutscenes, but this didn’t hinder the gameplay, so I put it down to a bad dream.
Performance was solid on my PC. I encountered the odd glitch where my friend, for some reason, decided not to follow me to a new area, but this did right itself with a checkpoint restart not too far away. Like a lot of games in this genre, Daydream doesn’t have a lot of replay value. There are secrets to find if you’re an achievement hunter or want to learn more about the game’s lore. You can fast-forward to specific chapters in the main menu, so you don’t have to replay the whole game again. For most, this will likely be a game you finish and don’t return to once you have conquered its short campaign, and that’s totally fine.
Conclusion: Don’t Dream It’s Over
Daydream: Forgotten Sorrow is a solid cinematic platformer if you’re looking for a short and sweet adventure that can be completed in a few gaming nights. I often find myself mixed with games like this. I hated the gotcha moments and became frustrated with the platforming, especially during action sequences. Although it was never to the extent where I threw in the towel, something drove me to carry on and see this game to its conclusion. For every issue I had, I could point to something I liked such as the rewarding puzzles, the captivating presentation and the dreamlike soundtrack. It really is a roller coaster of a video game. Ultimately I liked Daydream. Through all the highs and lows I had with my time, I walked away satisfied and wanting to cuddle a teddy. But since I’m a bit old for that now, I’ll cuddle my son instead.
Final Verdict: I Like it
If you’re still unsure, check out the free prologue, which is available on Steam to give you a taste of the experience.