Dreamscaper has been out for a while, and it remains to be one hell of an indie roguelike. Since its Early Access run, the game has seen incredible reception from dear fans and kind critics. Cassidy’s story of facing her fears while establishing a fulfilling life is a relatable one, and it shouldn’t be missed. From the wondrous art style to Dale North’s music, there are layers to the Dreamscaper experience that should be explored with creative curiosity. Here is our review for the Dreamscaper; developed by Afterburner Studios with publishing by Freedom Games and Maple Whispering Limited.
Dream, Die, Wake, Repeat – The Slumbers of Cassidy
Note: We have an Early Access review of the Dreamscaper right here for extra context. The game has been out for a while but it was officially released just recently. Be sure to check out the review before or after you read this final review.
This beloved title follows the uprising of a depressed Cassidy, an artist searching for her light. The player assumes her role by making connections with friends in the real world, who empower her to face her fears. That’s when she goes to sleep where fears become a reality. In its top-down presentation of dungeon crawling action, the Dreamscaper provides the player with a unique experience. Enemies and rooms spawn randomly, never knowing exactly what’s beyond the doorway in the dream.
It’s a wonderful narrative to follow along with. As you continue to evolve your friendships in the real world, Cassidy will have to face her fears during the night cycle of the game. Friends met during the day empower Cassidy through conversation and love. With their special perks that can be applied in the dreams, it’s easy to see how vital the connections of life are to the dream world.
It’s a great story to follow along with. I won’t spoil anything here, but to sympathize with Cassidy’s situation, experience is a necessity. She’s an artist who moves to Red Haven without any family or friends, and her fears literally attack her at night. It’s a concept that folks can relate to, and Afterburner Studios does it in such a way that it cannot be missed. I felt committed to seeing where Cassidy’s story would end up – and potentially begin anew.
Dancing with the Dreamscaper
To say that the gameplay is addicting is an understatement. I constantly see myself being disappointed by death (being that this is a roguelike), yet I press on in hopes of conquering the next dungeon – or dreamscape in this case. The Dreamscaper is essentially a roguelike with persistent RPG elements and a dungeon-crawling layout. When facing enemies, you can utilize lucid powers along with your opponent’s various weaponry to overcome your foes – in addition to the interchangeable dodges and shields. A lot of these are Cassidy’s pure ideas that she sketched out in the real world. And the weapons can get quite insane. As a few examples: telekinetic capabilities, wolf heads, deadly boxing gloves, finger guns, water balloons, pool cue, etc.
The Dreamscaper follows a day and night cycle: During the day, Cassidy can meditate, craft, and daydream at the various spots in Red Haven. These are vital to the gameplay and Cassidy’s personal progression. For when it comes to night, Cassidy will literally fall into a dreamscape where she must face her fears – AKA the bosses in the game. They are Fear, Isolation, Regret, Resentment, Loss, and True Loss. Each obviously represents a fear of Cassidy’s, but also provides special challenges for you if you seek the illustrious endgame.
Additionally, you can adjust the dream’s intensity before falling into a slumber. From Normal to Hard and then Nightmare, you can alter various stats and bosses, letting you tailor the experience to your skill. This only increases the replay value as you continue to empower your heroine. The more effort you put into making Cassidy the best version of herself, the more rewarding the entire experience will be.
The Look and Feel of Dreamscaper
For a game that was developed by three individuals (Ian Cofino, Robert Taylor, and Paul Svoboda – Dale North as well if you count the composer) Dreamscaper is a marvel to gaze upon. Every room I transported into was consistent, with no breaks in the resolution and overall quality. And with its consistency comes a great appreciation for the art of the game. Its distinctive appearance makes for a pleasant experience, with a clean layer of polish to top things off. It almost plays out like a digital painting. You can just feel the soft paintbrushes solidifying into a precise place; there were even a few moments where I placed my controller down to just have a better look at everything.
My only complaint is the lack of video and audio altering in the settings, though. You don’t have a lot of options in toying with what you see and hear, so you have to settle for what the game gives you. Luckily, the fixed options get the job done however you set the changes.
If the art of Dreamscaper doesn’t hook you, then perhaps Dale North’s music will. Composed entirely with memorable melodies, North incorporates piano-centric music to provide a surreal listening experience that engrosses the player without a snippet of gameplay. He also uses amazing violins to alter emotions, guitars to jam up the action, and percussions for whatever deadly situation you’re in.
When it comes to facing your fears, however, that’s when Dale North gets scary. The music greatly intensifies into dark territory, inducing anxiety and motivation for the player when they battle. But once you show that boss who’s who, the music thunders for a couple of seconds before trailing off into a soft space. A breakthrough, in other words – something that is essential for Cassidy. I implore you to listen to some of the Dreamscaper‘s music by Dale North. It’s a precious blend of piano and strings that encompasses a focus on personal growth and emotion, a worthy soundtrack for our courageous heroine.
I adore this game. Knowing that it was made by only three developers and a composer is an achievement many wish to reach. Afterburner Studios have developed an exceptional indie game with beautiful art, compelling combat, relatable characters, and Dale North’s music quite literally makes Dreamscaper. For its finished polishing, Dreamscaper is truly a remarkable roguelike that can be enjoyed over and over again.
- Cassidy's story feels connected and relatable
- Leveling up Cassidy is rewarding
- Beautiful design and dreamscapes
- Incredible music by Dale North
- Combat is smooth and dynamic
- Roguelike elements inspire more gameplay
- Quick and consistent transitions
- High replay value
- Video and Audio settings are very standard