The developers try to ease the pain of the crawling cursor’s speed by allowing players to quickly access items that they have collected in their inventory with the press of a shoulder button. That is greatly appreciated, but you are then forced to slowly move the selected object across the screen back to the desired location. In the puzzle with the buried key, the game provides you a shovel and infers that you need to dig around the yard but nearly every place that you move it to on the screen registers as hardened ground and will not allow the shovel to be used. There are supposed to be places on the screen that read loose dirt which indicate where you can dig; for some reason, there is no graphical indication to where these sections are and the cursor seems to jump across these patches as you move it along. Because it “jumps” across the said patches, the game rarely notifies the players when they are over top of the desired area(s). Just like the guessing game mentioned above with the books, I found myself resorting to simply spamming on the X button while I moved my cursor all over the screen, hoping and waiting for one of the loosened spots to become unearthed. This particular puzzle becomes even more frustrating when you realize that you don’t just have to do this once, but eleven times before you will unearth the object you are seeking. This is the sort of thing that takes any and all fun of a graphical adventure game right out of the equation. I don’t want to play a puzzle game where I can be just as effective taking shots in the dark or spamming on a button as someone who is intellectually quick and sharp-witted.
In addition to the standard puzzles and story experienced in the game, Dream Chronicles also gives players a chance to collect various “Dream Stones” that are scattered throughout the game. These stones, which vary in size and color, are scattered throughout the game’s various settings and are used to increase the score accumulated upon completion of the game. The more stones that you manage to collect, the higher your score will be when you complete the game. The time that it takes you to complete the game and the individual puzzles within it will also be factored into the equation. This makes for a nice little distraction from the main game but ultimately becomes annoying after a while as the game often limits your ability to collect these stones. One of the early rooms gives you only a brief chance to collect some of its stones and does not give you a chance to go back and pick them up once you realize that they are present. I guess that some would argue that this is a part of the intended experience, but I found it more frustrating rather than anything else.
The game makes a couple of attempts to add some replay value to the package but unfortunately none of them really succeed in that aspect. There are online leaderboards which rank you based on your completion time and the amount of dream stones that you collect during the story; these scores can be compared against the standard worldwide and friend-only leaderboards which is the status quo for most downloadable titles these days. Dream Chronicles also includes the ability to play the game cooperatively with a friend, both locally offline and online. While I can appreciate the gesture of supporting additional players, in this case it really defeats its own purpose as it only serves to shorten the overall experience as two minds often think a lot quicker than one. You cannot fault them for adding the modes though as it does enhance the overall package.
Dream Chronicles is an enjoyable adventure / puzzle game, but unfortunately it doesn’t last long enough to leave an impression on the player. The game can be completed in as little as a half an hour, even offering trophies for finishing it in that time frame. Some of the puzzles included throughout the game will make you think, which is nice, but others just don’t make much sense at all. There are too many points in the game where the player is almost forced to resort to trial and error for my liking. If you are into this type of game, you will undoubtedly like what Dream Chronicles has to offer; unfortunately, everyone else will be completely unsatisfied.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Dream Chronicles is a solid adventure, but unfortunately one that you will experience and then forget. The lack of replayablility isn’t necessarily the fault of the developer but rather the genre; once you have experienced the game, there is nothing left to discover. The included cooperative modes are a nice touch and change of pace for the style of game, but ultimately do nothing but shorten the duration of an already brief experience.
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