Dreamscaper review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Freedom Games
Developer: Afterburner
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

You know those games that are objectively good, but you just can?t bring yourself to care about? Dreamscaper is one of those games for me.

Or, in simpler terms: it?s not you, Dreamscaper, it?s me.

Like, I fully acknowledge that there?s a lot of neat stuff going on in this game. It?s a gorgeous, thought-provoking isometric action roguelike that has a much deeper, much more personal story than you?d get in most games of this genre — if not most games, period. But no matter how much I play it, I can?t get into it.

Obviously, though, I wouldn?t fault anyone who does like it. As I said in the last paragraph, there are all kinds of things about Dreamscaper that make it worth recommending. For starters, it?s got a lot more depth than your typical roguelike — and not just in terms of the gameplay. The story is built around one young woman?s battle with depression, sadness, and other negative emotions, and you increase your stats not just by battling monsters, but by getting her out into the world to meditate, or draw, or develop relationships. It?s not the typical stuff of action games.

Even so, Dreamscaper still has some pretty solid action. The game gives you plenty of ways to attack enemies, while also requiring that you develop solid evasion and blocking techniques. As you?d expect from a game where you?re literally battling depression, you can?t just hack and slash your way through the game and expect to make it anywhere. Dreamscaper very much falls into the category of ?easy to pick up/very hard to master.?

And, of course, Dreamscaper is absolutely gorgeous. As befits a game that takes place in dreams — where you go to battle the monsters of sadness and loss — the whole thing has a dreamlike quality, with the edges of each room barely sketched in. In fact, even when the heroine is awake, the game still retains a half-awake, otherworldly feeling thanks to its graphics.

Yet, despite all these good qualities, I still can?t get into Dreamscaper. But, because of all these good qualities, I totally get why others might be able to. It?s not my cup of tea, but if you like a well-made roguelike, it?s very likely that it will be yours.

Freedom Games provided us with a Dreamscaper Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B