Title: Dreaming Sarah
Developer: Andre Chagas Silva, Anthony Septim
Publisher: Andre Chagas Silva
Released For: PC (Windows, MAC OSX 10.6+, Linux Ubuntu 14.04+)
Reviewing: PC (Windows) version
DRM Versions Available
Released On: Mar, 12, 2015
In Dreaming Sarah, you’ll run around a series of different areas, collect items, solve puzzles, and platform your way to the end of the game. You play as Sarah, and you’re dreaming (get it? Dreaming Sarah?). Sarah begins dreaming after she gets into a car crash and is put into a coma. We’d say that’s a spoiler, but it’s in the description of the game on Steam…so yah.
The gameplay is inspired by Yume Nikki, but thankfully has some better gameplay elements, like plot. On your way of exploring this odd and bizarre little dream world, you’ll discover a colorful cast of characters, and explore odd but nicely detailed areas like a mansion, a lava world, and a never ending desert. You’ll start off in a forest section of the game, and slowly find more and more items along the way which help you get to other areas on other parts of the world. For example, you’ll find a magnifying glass which will help you get to other areas by shrinking yourself, or you’ll find glasses which let you see items you normally couldn’t see and so on. Some characters you come across also require certain items which will help you progress, while other characters are there simply for world building. One of the character we particularly found funny was a skeleton in the mansion area. During their text, we pictured them with voices similar to the Terry Pratchett animated movies. While some of the things you need for areas are obvious, it’s not entirely obvious or clear for others. For example, one character requires orange juice in order for the player to continue forward. However, it’s never really made clear the character needs orange juice. There’s also certain puzzles that we overthought in terms of complexity, when it was just one of those ‘we hadn’t done this, so that isn’t available yet’ types of puzzles. They’re in the game and annoying when they appear, but they’re not so annoying because you generally only find them when you’re about to or already have the required item. Some of the areas however you won’t need to access until a fair bit later into the game, like the Moon area. Despite this, exploring the areas and solving the puzzles was fun, and made the game fun to play as a way to winding down.
The game tries to play like a bizarre platformer like Yume Nikki, but it plays far better than Yume Nikki for the most part. It’s less bizarre than Yume Nikki as a result of this, but it’s also easier to actually play.
The only major parts of the gameplay to criticize is that there’s no real ‘dead’ stage to the game. You can fail at a puzzle or jump, but it never sets you back far enough to really consider it failing. There’s also the item problem where if you change into a fish and change back, all the items you previously had equipped you have to put on again. You also have a few items that you really don’t need to stop using except in certain situations. For example, you never have to really stop using the glasses you find or the magnifying glass to shrink you.
The game itself is short, but it’s as short as it needs to be. It took us around three hours to beat the game, but we also got stuck on a few of the puzzles, so it’s really more like a two hour game unless you have a brains like ours which contain string and some peanut shells.
Visually, it looks quite nice. Some of the character designs and inspired areas (ala the mansion is similar to the castle from Castlvania II) look nice, and everything somehow still flows visually, despite having very different looking areas. Sarah as a character looks a little too simple, but the extra animation on her hair when she jumps and moves is quite nice. We wish some characters had more dialogue with animations, but it’s nothing too substantial to really complain about. Visually, we wish they used higher quality visuals, but that’s it really. It looks ‘okay’ as is, but could be improved. The scene at the end with the sunset really looked low quality as well.
The music is also really well done. It was fun to listen to, and (since the OST is free on Steam) we listened to it while writing this review. Some of tracks feel a little too simple, and little too low quality in terms of audio playback, but it’s certainly not a bad soundtrack by any means. It’s not quite the ‘listen to this while you work on something’ soundtrack like something from say, Bioshock or Fallout 3, but it fit the game just fine.
The controls were also fine. Switching items is kind of a pain when you get more items, but it worked fine overall. The settings were also fine as is. The controls are rebindable, there are multiple graphics settings, audio settings, etc. It’s fairly basic, but we don’t think there’s much more it could have that it currently doesn’t.
As for the game, it was fun, and we had fun. It was entertaining, and we got our $6.00 worth from the game. The puzzles are mostly older style adventure game early 90s style puzzles, but they weren’t nearly as frustrating as that, and mostly worked in a way you’d expect.
Overall, it’s a simple but fun 2D retro-style platformer with some fun and triply little elements. We wish some characters had more dialogue, and we wish the game has better visual quality, but it’s still a fun game. We did run into some glitches , but nothing that deterred us from playing or finishing the game. It’s a short little platformer that we enjoyed.
- – Colorful cast of characters
- – Well designed levels
- – Good controls and platforming
- – Low quality visuals and random low quality backdrops