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
  @Full_of_hornets

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 VERDICT

8

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 *.disqus.com 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!


Music Notes: "Tied Down" by Forever Still

Desert Golfing - The Model Mobile Game

Review: Pony Island - Maneiac Crop!

The meaning of The Witness (Part 1 of 3)

Do you even Bebop?

Cblogs of 02/04/16 + Bayonetta and some other one I suppose

Waifu Wars: Your Cruel Device, Your Blood Like Ice..

Best Kickstarter implosion EVER as dev money is spent on booze and strippers

Video Gaming Bits -- Dungeons& Dragons: Tower of Doom

Is Planet Earth more than Blue, such as An?

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
Give me an open-world game and I'll find a way to mistreat children and the elderly.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
What do you think guys? Text or no text?
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I'm dying of laughter, these are too good XD super Zangeif OP
Parismio avatarParismio
How dare they price her so low...
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Fire Emblem Fates special edition is confirmed to have all three versions on one cartridge, so you DO get Revelation early.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Frinkiac.com: Search Simpsons quotes, get the image from the episode where the quote is from and easily make a meme.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I ended up buying Yakuza 3 on Amazon and nabbing Gravity Rush Remastered on the PS Store. Both have trophies so I'm pretty hyped to play em.
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
Just finished a blog just in time for the 25th Anniversary of Street Fighter II, which is in a few minutes...
Parismio avatarParismio
Jesus Pacland in smash looks like something someone made in MSPaint. I love it.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Looks like Nintendo was selling a North America exclusive 3DS cover plate. At least, I've never seen this particular one before. It's out of stock now, though.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
So Helldivers is pretty fucking great.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since I thanked Niero and Paladin on the site update article, might as we thank the rest of you staff, contributors, mods, volunteers, tippers, former workers, commenters, bloggers, quickshitposters, lurkers, trol-nevermind them, anyway XCOM2 calls!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I've got an even better picture! I'll post it in the comments.
Steel Squirrel avatarSteel Squirrel
I just have to post this pic because it's one of the best things ever. Gotta post it in the comments though.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Hits Save in blog editor.Your post currently has a publish date of 2016-01-23 11:44 PM.
Samsneeze avatarSamsneeze
Maurice White, Earth, Wind and Fire founder died yesterday and 2016 continues to make it clear that it gives no shits about your favorite musicians and people.
Jinx 01 avatarJinx 01
I have a bunch of unfinished blogs from the last two years when I had too much anxiety to finish them. So expect a bunch of probably outdated blogs from me soon ;p
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
If anyone wants to peep me having a quick, unpolished go at some cheesy Sonic music, the fun is here: https://soundcloud.com/justin-stewart-57/i-am-all-of-me-wip
Torchman avatarTorchman
Daily reminder that your waifu is shit. That is all.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
While fighting a Lucas, I did Bayo's up taunt, then I remembered what happened to Lucas's Mom in Mother 3. Now I feel bad.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

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 -