Friday, April 22, 2011

The Dream Machine: Chapter 1 Review

The Dream Machine is a five part episodic adventure game by a Swedish development team called Cockroach. It is made with clay and cardboard, and is only available through flash capable browsers. The first episode is available to play for free, with the remaining four episodes available at cost per episode or in a bundle.

The graphic style of the game is quite stylish, and the character design is fairly reminiscent of Grim Fandango.  You can tell a lot of care went into creating the game's world, as each location is hand-crafted but looks spectacular.  The first episode takes place immediately after a new couple's first night in a new apartment, and takes place completely in the apartment building.  The game is short, and there isn't a lot of variety in the backgrounds, but they are all done well.

The music isn't memorable, but it is suitably moody and fits the atmosphere of the game.  The sound effects are all done well, from the footsteps to the crackling of electricity, and they help to add to the atmosphere as well.  There is no voice acting, which is a shame, but for a game that exudes character as much as this game does, it's by no means a deal breaker.

The puzzles in this episode aren't too difficult, and are comparable in difficulty to the later episodes in Telltale's first two Sam & Max seasons.  There is only one puzzle that needs logic beyond the "use object on another object" type of puzzles, and even that puzzle can be solved by trial and error.  The puzzles do adhere to sensible logic though, and the puzzles that are there are done well.  There just aren't many puzzles in this episode, and the game can be completed in under an hour, even on the first playthrough.

The Dream Machine: Chapter 1 is a short adventure game, but it has a great deal of charm that makes it worth playing.  The cardboard and clay art style is presented in a very visually pleasing way.  It lacks voice acting, but the story is compelling enough to make up for it.  The game makes you want more by the time it reaches the end, which comes all too soon.  In the end though, since this episode is free, I can't help but recommend it to everyone.  It exudes a charm that overcomes it's short length and low budget roots.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

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