Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Dream Machine

Review: The Dream Machine

5:00 PM on 05.25.2012 // Alasdair Duncan

Episodic gaming was championed by Valve, but after no sign of Half Life episode 3 or even any SiN episodes after the first one (remember that?) it was Telltale who showed gamers that the episodic method of distribution could work with their revitalising of old adventure game classics.

Now Swedish indie team Cockroach Inc has released the first chapters of its adventure game The Dream Machine, a mix of traditional point 'n click gameplay and a lovingly hand crafted visual style. With 3/5's of the game currently available, will you be tempted to wait for more?

The Dream Machine (PC)
Developer: Cockroach Inc
Publisher: Cockroach Inc
Released: May 11, 2012
MRSP: £11.99 (Chapters 1-5), £6.98 (Chapters 1-3)

First of all, I need to point out that my review copy only features chapters 1 to 3 of the full five chapters that will be available. These are the only chapters that are available for purchase through Steam and via the game's website. There's no official release date for chapters 4 and 5 yet. 

The Dream Machine's story centres around Victor and Alicia Neff, a young and married couple who have just moved to a new apartment in the city from their former country abode. Whilst settling in, Victor finds a cryptic note that sets him on a path that puts the couple in danger, as they uncover the secrets that lurk in their new home. There's a real believability to Victor and Alicia's married life; at one point Alicia asks her husband if he would like "the truth or some appeasing bullshit" in relation to a simple question.

The Dream Machine is neatly split into three chapters so far. The first concerns uncovering the mysterious origins of the house and it's owner, Mr Morton. Chapters 2 and 3 involve Victor travelling into the dreams of various people in order to rescue them from a malignant force. Chapter 1 does well in establishing the characters and the story; Chapters 2 and 3 transport Victor into some imaginative dream scenarios with some striking imagery. Whilst Chapter 1 is feels fairly short, mainly due to it's easy puzzles, Chapters 2 and 3 increase the difficulty despite their limited playing areas. 

It's also where the game falls into some of the usual trappings of an adventure game. Whilst Chapter 2 is fairly straightforward, Chapter 3 introduces sub-tasks for Victor to solve, like hunting down ingredients for cocktails and figuring out a way to teach some unruly kitchen staff a lesson. Unfortunately this means Victor's inventory becomes bloated and quite unwieldy. There's also an overabundance of dialogue options; often five or more are available to Victor, but it feels like a lot of that could be streamlined. There's nothing wrong with the dialogue -- it manages to make superficially similar characters in Chapter 3 stand out from each other -- it's just that there's an awful lot of it. Dialogue trees will nest even more options and this feels a little overwhelming.

Whilst the a large chunk of the puzzles in the game are the usual "combine items" and "give combined item to person" type of challenges, they never became same-y or predictable, until later in the third chapter where I felt I was trying to solve a particular puzzle purely by trial and error. Likewise, a few puzzles are composed of talking to various people via an intercom, which mixes in an amount of trial and error with a lot of dialogue options. The 3rd chapter of the game is probably the most involving but it feels a little over long.  

Like many of the recent adventure games, such as Yesterday and The Book of the Unwritten Tale, this is a very standard point-and-click game. Items are collected and stored in your inventory at the top of the screen. You'll interact with other characters in the same way, clicking to speak or just engage with them. Whilst there is no way to highlight objects, the areas in the game aren't over-filled with useless objects cluttering up the screen. There's some nice touches in the UI; a pair of footsteps will show where Victor can walk to and any object you hover over will display a description at the bottom of the screen.

Then of course there's the look of the game; it's no understatement to say that The Dream Machine really stands out from other titles, and not because of its high resolution graphics or highly stylised pixel art. Rather, the game's graphics are all sculpted from hand made materials and are stop motion animated. There's an almost child-like quality to the visuals, as if the landscapes and characters are toys that have been willed into life. When there's a close up of an object or an item, you can see the imperfections that come with being handmade; port holes aren't perfectly round, there's finger prints on clay, the clouds are clearly cotton wool. Yet this all adds to the charm of the game, and it shows that a clear love and craft has gone into The Dream Machine.

Whilst I had my issues with some of the puzzles and the pacing of the last chapter, I still really want to see where this story goes. The Dream Machine has it's hook in my mouth, and I'm really excited to see the dreamscapes that are conjured up in the next two chapters.



The Dream Machine - Reviewed by Alasdair Duncan
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Alasdair Duncan, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Full_of_hornets Tips
Alasdair Duncan is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming that is not Fraser Brown. A long time Destructoid community member and forum moderator, he covers adventure, puzzle, F... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
The Dream Machine

  Jul 16

The Dream Machine returns on August 1

The episodic adventure game series will continue with an extra chapter

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Half - Life 3 FINALLY 100% confirmed...maybe.

Surprisingly... I'm *really* enjoying Fallout 4!!

Where the Hell is Breath of Fire?

Comments of the Week - バーガーベスト, ですよね?

My Month in Games - November 2015

Cblogs of 11/28/15 - Lonely Thanksgiving, Gatchaman Crowds, and more

Recap: Metal Gear Solid 1

Thankful it's Over: Bioshock Infinite

Is Toei using Kamen Rider Ghost to address suicide in Japan?

Let's talk about Xenoblade Chronicles

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Archelon avatarArchelon
Well, Destructoid. I did it. I jumped ahead.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Flawed but fun favorite game sorter. Post top 30 in the comments. [url][\url]
KingSigy avatarKingSigy
I am tired of random players. I need to enlist some help with Triforce Heroes challenges. Would anyone like to pair up with me?
El Dango avatarEl Dango
[img][/img] fun...
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night I had to clean projectile liqiud dogshit off of the sides of my puppies kennel. Pity me. Read my blog.
techsupport avatartechsupport
Taking a break from Fallout 4 to try out Twitch Creative. Catch me painting Chun-Li while listening to an eclectic mix of Alex G, DJ Shadow, and Modest Mouse. [img][/img]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
So far from first impressions of my Freedom Planet indie box its 100% more worth it than lootcrate. Whereas lootcrate you get a bunch of stuff you may or may not like, indie box gives you indie games, and stuff related to that game, such as the soundtrack
maycausecancer avatarmaycausecancer
When one game is rated 7.4 and another 7.6, Are you telling me one game is 0.2 worse than the other. WHAT!?!
KingSigy avatarKingSigy
I think Microsoft takes the cake for worst console updates. The XBone UI is worse and the fucking controller had an update. What the hell has gaming become?
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
Well, that's a wrap for the Bloodborne DLC. I liked it. More thoughts and maybe spoilers in the comment section.
Confuseddalek avatarConfuseddalek
a rainy afternoon, and too sleepy for games. Time to go to the animal shelter and try not to fall asleep, surrounded by kittens.
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Following from yesterday's Community Question, how would you feel if reviewers began assigning two scores to a game? One specifically for the technical aspects/performance of the game, and the other for their own personal enjoyment?
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I went back to Persona 4 Golden this weekend, asked Chie to be my girlfriend but then accidentally maxed out my social link with Yumi, changed my relationship status to "It's Complicated" on Personabook. [img][/img]
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Why am I hyped? Just cause :D
JohnSmith123 avatarJohnSmith123
You know what Fallout 4 mod I want to see? One to fix the interior lightning. It's like the silliest thing to get fixated over, but I can't seem to ignore how white and bright some of those inside lights are.
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Just wrote my first C-blog. It's me talking about the games I have played this month; I'm quite excited
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
I wish the Squid Girl outfit was still a dress for boys. I want to live through my Inkling boy and be a cute girly-man, dammit. [img][/img]
Zer0t0nin avatarZer0t0nin
Goshdarnit...just stood in front of the camera to record an intro for the advent calender thingy and actually got stage fright >.>
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Well, it seemed like for two seconds people were finally going to give Star Fox a fair shake, but nope! GameXplain's YouTube audience seem pretty insistent that it's just a Star Fox 64 clone down to the graphics. Sometimes I just don't understand peopl
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
I don't think it will happen, but if the NX is turns out to be a VR device, I will be the saddest boy in the milky way.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -