LadiesGamers Dreamscaper

Dreamscaper Review

Game: Dreamscaper
Genre: Adventure, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam, Xbox & PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Afterburner Studios | Freedom Games, Maple Whispering Limited
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price:  UK £18.99 | EU € 24,99 | USA $24.99
Release Date: August 5th, 2021

Review code provided with many thanks to Stride PR 

Rogue-Lite Recap

It actually feels like quite some time since I sunk a horrific amount of time into a good rogue-lite. This is a game that’s quite short but with a very hard initial difficulty where you rarely see the end on the first run. The idea is to play over and over, gradually upgrading between rounds until you finally learn the mechanics, get the right upgrades and win the day. But even after winning there is plenty of incentive to replay.

With so much competition it’s very challenging for developers to release a game in this genre that is different. Dreamscaper has many of the ingredients that feel quite familiar for a typical rogue-lite title but does it do enough to stand out from the crowd? Try not to fall into a dream as we dive in.

LadiesGamers Dreamscaper
My kinda night in

Just a Girl in the City

You play as Cassidy, a young girl who has moved to the city of Redhaven. By day she is doing the normal things young people do; like going to the park to meditate and talking to random strangers in the park.

By night she enters the dream world, which turns into a highly entertaining rogue-lite experience. The more you explore in and out of the dream world the more you learn about Cassidy. But the biggest draw to the experience was the action in the dream world.

LadiesGamers Dreamscaper
Off to the park to meditate

Rogue-lite by Night

When you fire up a run, Cassidy falls into her bed and you watch a nice animation of her sinking into the dream world. Here her outfit changes and she now has to fight her nightmares whilst also exploring her memories. The main gameplay is 3D combat. Cassidy is able to wield a variety of unusual but highly intriguing weapons to take on the darkness. This includes the usual stuff, like baseball bats and swords but there are also more unusual choices like boxing gloves or the ability to manipulate the earth itself.

The latter makes me think Cassidy has been watching a little bit of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Your melee weapon has a strong and weak attack. Each time you take on an enemy there is a small white window that indicates the best moment to strike to give the most damage.

Pressing more rhythmically is advisable but if you do still choose to button mash it’s all good. As well as a melee weapon you have a ranged weapon to fire from a distance like arrows or spells. This is a handy feature but I really struggled to get the aim right especially when battles became stressful and hectic. The game does offer aim assist but I often found I just didn’t have a lot of time to line my shots up correctly so I often relied on my melee abilities.

LadiesGamers Dreamscaper
Bringing some boxing gloves to a dream fight

Use Spells

You can also find spells to activate, like gravity pulling orbs or summoning a dragon to rain down fire. These need time to charge but were incredibly useful in a pinch. You also have a dodge move, a block and parry ability. If you have a good eye and press the block at the right time, you will stagger an enemy giving you a useful opening. A risk worth taking for the risky player but if you’re a twitchy player like me you’ll probably spend a lot of time rolling about instead.

The developers offer a lot of options for the player which is most welcome. Most rooms require you to defeat a variety of enemies, but as you progress you can unlock optional puzzle rooms to gain more loot and items. You can also switch out weapons and abilities for different or better ones each with individual perks or even upgrade or forge a new one. Another feature I loved was that you can fast travel to any room you have visited on the mini map so you can avoid some pointless backtracking. 

LadiesGamers Dreamscaper
Face your nightmares

Upgrade and Explore by Day 

Inevitably a run will end. When this happens Cassidy wakes up and you spend a lot of time upgrading your abilities from the various currencies you accumulated on your runs. You can also interact with a variety of NPC characters where you can gift them presents and learn more about them as well as Cassidy herself.

This is a unique design choice. It provides a nice, more chilled palette cleanser after an action-heavy run. But for me personally, I found these segments just a tad too slow. Dialogue conversions with the NPCs felt like they went on too long and in all honestly, I just wanted to jump back into bed to do another run. It’s also a little irritating that you have to travel to various different locations to upgrade different abilities instead of just having one hub to do that.

With the Switch version especially you also have to put up with a short load time each time you move to a new location. It doesn’t spoil the experience but it kinda is in your best interest to engage with this stuff as it leads to more upgrades to assist with future runs.

LadiesGamers Dreamscaper
I think I want to wake up now

Dream Colours

Graphics are very appealing. When you explore the dream world it feels like you are navigating through a beautiful painting. The characters in this game are the faceless low poly models looking similar to the ‘Willow Tree’ figures you may have come across if you live in the UK. It’s a style seen in games like Ashen and still doesn’t feel overdone in gaming yet.

The game does offer Switch players a performance mode. This drops the graphical quality but makes the experience run better. As a preference, I tend to choose this over graphical fidelity and found the action over experience much more suited to me. I will warn readers though: the game does look like the screen is smeared in a layer of grease which is very noticeable in handheld mode. This will likely not suit everyone. Still, I found the game to be very playable whichever option you choose and I’m very grateful the developer offered this as an option.

LadiesGamers Dreamscaper
Complete a puzzle room to gain a reward

Dream, Fail, Wake, Repeat

This is a game that will keep you busy for a long time. This is a typical grindy rogue-lite experience where it took multiple runs just to make it past the first boss. Progress is very gradual and slow so if repetition is not your thing or you’ve not been fond of rogue-lite experience before, this is probably not the one to sell you on the genre.

The more you play the more you unlock. New weapons, abilities, puzzle rooms on future runs. There is always a reason to give the game another go. If you are struggling with the game’s difficulty the developers have added an option where each death consistently upgrades your character making each run just a touch easier.

Additionally, the game offers challenges that nets you more rewards. Later you can adjust various difficulty settings where going harder offers more rewards. Lastly, you are also able to choose your starting weapons and abilities. But if you love taking a risk like I do, you can choose to make everything random and accept the fate the rogue-lite gods give you. This game easily gives you plenty of bang for your gaming buck and the developers have also advertised a free update in the future. 

LadiesGamers Dreamscaper
The dream environments are very pretty

Conclusion – Sweet Dreams

Dreamscaper is a delightful rogue-lite that is worth sinking hours and hours into if you are a fan of this genre. Beautiful graphics, engaging combat and a constant trickle of content easily overcome the small niggles I had with this game. A great game to play in long or short bursts that I found hard to put down. Just don’t stay up too late playing it. Sleep is very important. Sweet dreams.

Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot
I like it a lot


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