Into The Spine Of: Dream Alone

An atmospheric ride affected by game-breaking bugs.

Dream Alone is an extremely difficult 2D platformer that combines unique hero abilities with a dark, disturbing storyline. The player takes on the role of a young boy who goes on an adventure to find Lady Death after his family and village come down with a disease that puts them into a death-like state.

I’d like to say I enjoyed Dream Alone. And I did, at first. The premise of the game was a fascinating one, and with the game being a platformer I was pumped to play this, especially as I’ve been trying to get into more ‘horror’ and thought that this game would be a great way to tip my toes into that genre.

Dream Alone had fantastic moments that truly left me on the edge of my seat. The atmosphere was brilliant, especially tucked up in bed with headphones on and the covers wrapped around you. It’s a game that leaves you thinking tactically about your every move, because there are no second chances. You do well, or you end up with a blood splatter across your screen. It was completely merciless, and I liked it that way.

What was also done well was the use of different powers to help you progress. As you go along you’ll earn different kind of powers, such as jumping through alternative realities to making another copy of yourself to fool enemies or to hold down a button so the walls of death didn’t clamp down on you. Granted, the game doesn’t give a narrative reason on why or how you get these powers, but I forgive them for that because they are pretty fun.

What wasn’t fun was how horrifically broken the game was. And before you get yourselves all twisted thinking that I’m complaining because it was too hard no, I truly mean that there were parts of the game that was so broken it became near impossible to proceed through the game. While these issues were made known to me by the developer themselves when they sent us the code, I didn’t realize how much it would affect the game until I’d sat down and played it.

There’s a certain level that sticks out to me. It’s where you’ve started to explore the caves, because who doesn’t like to add a good cave level now and then? This became the hardest part of the game for me, and the moment where I got so frustrated to the point that I didn’t want to play anymore, and it was all because of a game-breaking bug.

You see, while I was aware there were invisible spikes and walls in this level, which already made the game ten times harder, there were also invisible switches that didn’t appear even when you used one of your powers to change into an alternative reality. What made this even worse is that sometimes the switch would appear, but then I’d die, and it would vanish and make it impossible for me to progress any further. So, I had to make the decision to keep reloading until it appeared, which took several attempts. By the time the switch did appear, and I could finally progress? I was so frustrated I had to have a break from it.

These bugs kept happening as I progressed. I’d get so far, then a bug would halt me before I could get back into the groove until it felt as though I was actively fighting the game. I’ve no idea if WarSaw Games has fixed these problems or not for the full release, but this version was near unplayable and incredibly frustrating.

And that’s a damn shame, because I’d be lying if I said that Dream Alone doesn’t have potential to be the horror platformer we deserve. It has an intriguing storyline, antagonistic forces that are well thought out and equally terrifying and when the game worked, and decent puzzles that really made sure you were thinking strategically as you played.

I wanted to like Dream Alone, and I feel if the developers had paid more time and attention on these glaring, game-breaking issues then I would have really enjoyed it. But that wasn’t the case. What was meant to feel like a love-letter to games like Limbo and Inside felt as though it had given up halfway.

It’s a tough recommendation, even for the hardest platformer fans, and I sincerely hope the game gets to truly shine sometime in the future.

A copy of Dream Alone for Switch was provided by Stride PR on behalf of Fat Dog Games and WarSaw Games. Make sure to visit the official site for more information.

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