The Dream Machine Review (PC/MAC)

The Dream Machine is an independent game, developed by Cockroach Inc. and available via Steam, and it had been a finalist for a lot of independent game awards. The game has five chapters, but chapters are released according to their completion schedule.

The game is a point and click adventure where you uncover secrets of your new apartment. You play as Victor, whom just moved in, with your pregnant wife, to a new apartment. The apartment is pretty basic as your furniture has not arrived yet. You start the game on an island alone and trying to look for means to survive. As events unfold you discover that the opening scene was just a dream. The strange thing about this dream is that the island you were stranded on, in your dream, was the island depicted in the painting in your bedroom – and that painting was not yours either. As you try to settle in to your new home, you discover more secrets and strange things about your apartment and your neighbours, not to mention your landlord too, whom seemed to have an obsession with dreams. So you are on a mission to find out the truth.

The game has some tricky and interesting puzzles scattered throughout. Sometimes clues are not straightforward and you will need to rummage through your inventory and the environment again and again to make sure you did not leave any important clues behind. This makes the game very challenging at times, and made me want to come back again and again to solve them, which is a positive sign. Some of the puzzles are randomly generated so for the same part of the game, you may encounter a different puzzle (though in the same format) from another player.

Aesthetics-wise, the game employed a clay and cardboard style of design. The choice is interesting, but personally I do feel the design is a bit too basic because of this choice in style. There is detail in the game, but the coarse aesthetics places quite a bit of restriction on how detailed items and environments can be. This is particularly true for the human characters, which I personally do not like their overly rough designs, especially for the female characters. Having said that, because of this choice, it did make the game stand out from the usual animation style or painting style aesthetics popularly employed for this kind of game.

Mysterious music plays out through most part of the game. At first it is interesting but sometimes it can get annoying when you need to spend time solving a puzzle and the music continuously repeats. Also, I do not understand why certain sound effects have to be so loud – yes I am looking at you tap.

Overall, The Dream Machine is an interesting indie game that can serve your puzzle-solving mind very well. The story telling, though basic, is very interesting. It also provided a very coherent experience with all the pointing, clicking and puzzle solving. I personally would prefer a more refined approach to character and environment design, even when using the clay and cardboard approach. Also a bit more variety in sound would be good, but the saviour is that you can turn the sound off completely and enjoy your own music while playing it. On the whole, The Dream Machine is a pretty decent game worthy of a look into if you are a fan of the genre. You can also hop on over to the Steam page for The Dream Machine and try the demo out for yourself.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

About the Author

Level up freak. Level 99 is a norm not a goal. Love my JRPGs and RPGs in general. Also love my platformers and puzzle games. Was addicted to Zoo Keeper, Magnetica, Animal Crossing, Disgaea DS, Dragon Quest IX and White Knight Chronicles. Prefer to spend my time away from gaming as an actor although do have a full time job that keeps my mortgage going. But generally love anything creative. And if anyone tells you gaming is a waste of time, tell them you have great eye, hand and brain coordinations that they will never have!