Dreamscaper Steam Early Access Report (Release)
Dreamscaper Release Date: August 14, 2020
Platforms: PC and Switch
Current Status: Entering Steam Early Access
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Disclosure: This Steam Early Access Report is based off of a copy of the game provided for free.
Dreamscaper, developed by Afterburner Studios, is a rogue-lite isometric ARPG entering Steam Early Access that is unique in its gameplay loop that clearly separates itself from all others. Playing as Cassidy, you will enter her dreams in the “Dream World” and battle her nightmares and by day in the “Waking World” you will meet people in various people and enter in conversations to learn more of the story and unlock items by providing gifts to gain “influence” with the characters in the Waking World. This is an extremely ambitious game loop that generally works well in the Dream World, but can be a bit boring and bland sometimes in the Waking World because conversations between Cassidy and other characters can drone on making you want to end them quickly. The major enjoyment for me is in the Dream World, as the environments look so real and the soundtrack composed by Dale North is beautiful and fitting. The quality of the visuals and soundtrack is far superior than most indie games, which is one of the main reasons Dreamscaper will likely fulfill your indie gaming dreams in the end.
What stands out the most to me is the already fluid gameplay in the Dream World. This feels like an isometric Dead Cells with parrying mechanics and a wide array of items to fit different playstyles. The influences you get from giving gifts to the characters in the Waking World are essentially buffs that you choose one of in a run that specialize in a certain thing. I recommend playing with a controller because it just feels weird with mouse and keyboard. You’ll also being using special “Lucid” power using a “Dreamrush” state to slow time, as well as special Lucid abilities that you will switch in and out as you have access of up to six levels, provided you are good enough to survive. The items in Dreamscaper vary so much and can feel very wacky in a fun way! The range weapons can be a wide range of choices, like a long bow, kunai knives, or even a water drencher! The water drencher caught me by surprise, as it felt like I was using one of those old Super Soakers from the 1990s, including the fizzling out when you run out of ammo.
Dreamscaper enters Steam Early Access in a very good state, but with fixable flaws can make the game better and more accessible for everyone. Cassidy’s Journal is a major hub in the Waking World with crafting options, loadouts, and other usable information, but unfortunately the UI in conjunction with the font size and color is a little too tiny and straining on the eyes. The game also features interesting random challenges for players to complete in different rooms with rewards that can show up on the screen both too late and not be bold enough for the player to see because entering a room can throw a player directly into combat at the entrance. The solution to this can be to create challenge rooms that a player can click through and read before entering the room. A minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but the characters don’t have faces which is just a bit weird to see. I would also like to see more enemy variety, obstacles with more flavor that fit the environment, and better item labeling. The game already does a good job introducing the player to the gift mechanics, but is a bit lacking in explaining the loadout/crafting system, which took me a while to figure out it was using the Dead Cells approach to items. I wish it didn’t.
Dreamscaper is entering Steam Early Access today for an estimated six months to a year. The game will also eventually release on the Nintendo Switch.
I can’t wait to see the new content that will be added. This is definitely in a playable state for plenty of hours and I recommend it. It took me a little bit to get comfortable with the gameplay, but before I knew it I was parrying and dodging with ease, slashing enemies down, and losing track of time.
Don’t sleep on Dreamscaper, sleep in it and have fun!