Dreamscaper by Afterburner Studios
To say the Rogue-like genre has been going through a renaissance in recent years would be an understatement. Between modern classics like Hades and enduring franchises like Risk of Rain, you’d be hard-pressed to browse the genre without finding SOMETHING that appeals to you.
Of course, this deluge of options could easily lead to things becoming stale. Thankfully, if Dreamscaper is any indication, there’s plenty of life left in these old bones.
Cassidy is plagued by nightmares. Every night she slips into a world born of her own memories, now corrupted and full of monsters. These dreams are getting more vivid and seem to be guiding her to a dark fate. However, Cassidy’s not going down without a fight.
Dreamscaper consists of battling your way through Cassidy’s nightmares. Each takes the form of a series of enemy-filled rooms that need to be cleared to advance, alongside usual staples such as treasure rooms and mysterious shrines that offer boons in exchange for a penalty. Along the way, you’ll discover different weapons and abilities to make use of, and battle a series of recurring but stunning bosses.
The core loop of Dreamscaper isn’t drastically different than that of its peers. However, what does set it apart is how fast and fluid the gameplay feels. Cassidy’s arsenal becomes surprisingly vast but also feels intuitive to use, and hacking and slashing your way through chambers of monsters feels as intuitive as breathing. It’s still plenty challenging, but you never feel like you’re battling the game’s mechanics to accomplish anything.
The game is also surprisingly generous when it comes to aiding the player. Upgrades are plentiful, and bosses can be skipped on repeat runs after beating them once, making the whole experience feel less grindy than many of its peers. If you’re someone who’s ever been afraid to dive into Rogue-Likes, this is a perfect place to start.
Hero in a Dream
The dream world is ultimately only half the game though. By day, Cassidy can explore her town and talk to the cast of characters found within. Many of them can be given gifts found in the dream world, and the rewards for doing so will boost subsequent runs. While not quite as robust as something like the Persona franchise’s Social Link system, the constant flow of upgrades combined with the excellent writing will make you want to keep revisiting these people.
This is all to say nothing of Dreamscaper’s stellar production values. The art design of both the waking and dream worlds are colorful and vivid, the latter providing an altered view of the former. Cassidy is a well-written and compelling character, and you really do want to see her journey through to the end. Oh, and the music by veteran composer Dale North is as stellar as ever.
Dreamscaper really is the whole package. While some might balk at the concessions it makes for the player, the result is a game that never wears out its welcome. Everything flows so naturally and fluidly that you’ll find yourself going for multiple runs in a row just to see what you can unlock next. In short, it’s a dream to play.
Dreamscaper is available via the Nintendo Game Store, Xbox LIVE, Steam, and the Epic Games Store.
Watch the trailer for Dreamscaper below: