Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Game Review: Dreamweb

Another DOS-era adventure game, but a bloody weird one where your interpretation of the plot basically depends on whether or not you read the manual addendum written as the diary of the main character.

The protagonist of "Dreamweb", Ryan, has been having constant nightmares about the impending destruction of the world; it seems that seven men and women - working individually - are seizing control of the seven nodes of the Dreamweb, the sum of humanity's hopes, aspirations and dreams. If they're successful, the whole world will descend into madness and evil. Ryan is contacted by the Keeper of the Dreamweb, and is told he must find and kill these seven before they complete their corruption of the nodes.

And that's more or less how the story goes: you move about a dirty city where it's constantly raining, hunting down one target after another and reclaiming the dream energy they leave behind when they die, returning it to the Dreamweb. There are a few twists along the way, but I don't want to spoil them. Or the ending, for that matter, which is... kind of an anticlimax on the one hand, but on the other hand it still makes sense in the context of the story.

So you have the whole Chosen One angle and it all seems pretty traditional. Now, in my specific case, I beat the game and then read Ryan's diary... and it added a huge amount of ambiguity to what I just played, because the story takes on a completely different context if you believe the diary.

So far all I've talked about is the story, mainly because there's not much to say about the game's visual dimension: it's a top-down perspective, and not a particularly good one - there's a smaller, separate window which provides a sort of "zoom" on objects you're pointing at. All dialogues are pre-programmed and your seven targets are put in a set order, so it's all quite linear. And yet, I think this is one of those cases where the interest in the story outweighs the predictability and mild clumsiness of the mechanical aspect. Worth a play-through for the story and the music alone.