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Dream Chamber

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

The Big Sleep

Product: Dream Chamber | Publisher: Microids | Format: iPad | Genre: Adventure | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Dream Chamber iPad, thumbnail 1
Adventure games often defy common sense. You pick up objects before you know why you need them, and perform complex heists to pinch items you could simply buy in a shop.

But noir-style point-and-click adventure Dream Chamber goes even further and simply defies logic itself. Here, Charlie can also doze off and dream up pixel-perfect recreations of rooms (and crime scenes) he has previously visited, and get a second look at evidence.

Sometimes you can just about buy it as some kind of photographic memory. In the game, Charlie only briefly remembers a van he saw in the moments before a museum robbery, but in dreamland he can conjure up that getaway vehicle and see the exact number plate.

But in a lot of cases, it just comes off as a magical power allowing Charlie to find clues that he should have no way of finding. It feels like a terrible cheat, and with no internal logic driving this unpredictable mechanic you simply resort to re-visiting all the locations in dreamland to see what's changed.

Get outta here while you can still walk

That's not his only power. He can also talk witnesses, suspects, and annoying security guards into giving up information by pretending that he's playing a rubbish physics puzzler.

The interviewee's resolve manifests as a rickety medieval castle, and Charlie literally hurls his questions like cannonballs in the hope of toppling the fortress.

In play, it's an utterly obtuse mini-game. Dream Chamber never makes it clear which statements were effective and which were brushed off, and sometimes you're given the chance to ask the exact same question in three almost indistinguishable ways.

In the end these word wars become intensely frustrating roadblocks, and I eventually solved them with trial-and-error and a persistence that only comes from being contractually obliged to keep playing.

People lose teeth talkin' like that

Elsewhere, Dream Chamber fills its slight three-or-so-hour playing time with more traditional (but poorly designed) item combination puzzles, some (aggravating) mini-games, and a lot of intrigue and mysteries that simply don't pay off by the abrupt ending.

I like the setting. But while Dream Chamber goes to great pains to sell itself as a 1930s period piece - with winking topical references to the discovery of Pluto and Constantinople's name change - it loses points to obviously anachronistic vocabulary like data (first used in 1964) and awesome (1961).

All the writing is disappointing, to be honest. It clearly wants to be a hard-boiled noir - with femme fatales, Bogart-style fedoras, and even a character named Chandler - but the dialogue falls completely flat.

Most of it is just charmless hero Charlie's endless descriptions and inane anecdotes about every random item he stumbles upon.

Dream Chamber had promise with its fresh setting and clever dream mechanic. But with puzzles that are either dull or completely illogical (or both), irritating mini-games, and poor writing, it's more of a nightmare.
 
Dream Chamber
Reviewer photo
Mark Brown | 29 October 2013
Dream Chamber's great noir-style setting is wasted on annoying mini-games, illogical puzzles, poor writing, and a story that goes absolutely nowhere
 
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