“Dreamland” is a short choice-based game in which the player explores his dreams and the odd characters inhabiting it. Unusually for choice-based games, it mixes together a couple of different genres: puzzle-based IF, personal narratives, and dream-logic scenarios.

Gameplay: The game comprises three main parts: preparing to go to sleep, a dream about a library, and a second dream about a market. The individual parts are interesting enough, but the game as a whole wasn’t particularly compelling to me; the dream scenarios were neither bizarre enough to be interesting as narratives nor logically consistent enough to be interesting as puzzles. Similarly, I didn’t find the characters to have much depth or evoke the dream-logic of the underlying plot itself. 3/10.

Mechanics: Even though the game is choice-based, it has state; there’s a bit of freedom in preparing for bed and wandering through the dreams, and actions (e.g., picking up books or speaking to certain characters) are noted by the system and change descriptions accordingly. The most interesting choice is that how the player prepares for bed affects the solution to the book puzzle. Still, that effect is not readily apparent in the game (I found the details of it by reading the HTML code), and not even perfectly clear in retrospect. I expect many players to discover the solution only by brute force, at least in the first playthrough. Aside from a bug in one of the opening scenes (“missing ] after element list”), I had no difficulty navigating through the game. 3/10.

Presentation: The text in the game was largely solid and consistent, although I did notice one typo (“noone around here”) that would have been caught with a spell checker or more testers. 4/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You’d like to a play a dream-based game that’s more grounded than most.

Score: 3

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