Roguelikes have become really popular the last few years. Their constantly changing nature and frequent deaths and restarts help flesh out a game. You can get a lot of gameplay without massive worlds. With the flood of Roguelikes, each one has to do something to set itself apart from the crowd. Dreamscaper uses a combination of the real world and the dream world to make it stand apart from others. I’ve been playing it on the Nintendo Switch handheld only and here are my thoughts.
Dreamscaper is an isometric Roguelike. You have melee and and ranged attacks at all times. You also have special attacks that have limited use based on your Luna meter. The meter recharges fairly quickly, but not quick enough that you can rely on those attacks. There is a wide variety of melee and ranged weapons and as you unlock them, you can choose to start with them on your next run. This is really helpful because you can get used to certain weapons that suit your playstyle but you can also upgrade their effectiveness through using them This is one area where Dreamscaper helps deal with the issue that a lot of Roguelikes have; the only thing you can bring with you on subsequent runs is your skill.
In addition to improving your weapons, you can make your character more powerful by interacting with people in the city you live in during the awake phase. There are people in town that hang out at places like the park, bar, book store, etc. As you forge friendships with the people in town, you learn what their interests are. You can then craft items (don’t worry, the crafting is simple and uses a currency not components) and give them as gifts. These friendships and gifts give you static bonuses that make you more powerful. In turn, this makes each run a little bit easier. It’s grindy, but you can see progress and make it further each time. You can also unlock new areas on each “floor” of the dream world that either offer more treasures or healing. Again, you can make your run throughs easier just by playing. The lack of this is one of the issues a lot of Roguelikes have.
While those factors do make you more powerful, Dreamscaper is not easy. I’ve done around 40 runs and have only progressed to the second layer maybe 4 or 5 times. When I play, I make a few runs and then move onto something else. It’s a good game to play if you don’t have huge chunks of time to commit.
The art style in Dreamscaper is interesting. The faces on everyone are blank, not in the blank stare type but in the mannequin with not facial features type. Honestly, it’s somewhat unsettling. Fortunately, you don’t really see people’s faces very often. For the most part, you can’t even tell that the characters look like they have flesh colored face shields. The dream phase of the game is set in what looks like an abandoned city. I played Dreamscaper on Nintendo Switch and only in handheld mode. The graphics weren’t bad but also weren’t anything memorable. Dreamscaper is definitely game one plays for the gameplay and not the graphics.
The first few hours of Dreamscaper were rough. I felt like there should be more explanations to how you can pick and improve weapons. Once I figured that out and started making friendships with villagers, I started doing better and enjoying the game more. The story didn’t really do much for me. It didn’t draw me in and I didn’t feel as though I was missing much. For me, the gameplay loop was what kept me interested. If you are looking for a Roguelike that you can make your character stronger, than I recommend checking Dreamscaper out. In my opinion, Dreamscaper is a GOOD game and I plan on continuing to play it.