Someone wake us up from this bad dream.
- System: PC
- Developer:Kadokawa Corporation
- Publisher: AGM Playism
- Release Date: Feb 23, 2018
- Genre: Puzzle, Indie, Psychological
- Players: Single Player
- Rating: M
- Official Website: http://yume-nikki.com/
YUME NIKKI -DREAM DIARY- Prologue
Who it Caters to
Now before we go into the review, we want to stress that this is our first time playing the series, and so therefore our experience with YUME NIKKI ~Dream Diary~ is a fresh one. This is a reimagining of the RPG Maker classic that generated a very large cult following, and still continues to generate popularity. YUME NIKKI ~Dream Diary~ was developed by Kadokawa and published by AGM Playism, inviting fans of the original to a game that retains many remnants of the old while implementing fresh new designs for the modern indie scene. The game itself was known to be a controversial one as it delved into topics which many would deem to be too emotionally taxing, such as suicide and depression. However, YUME NIKKI ~Dream Diary~’s overall mission perhaps isn’t to exploit these issues but rather to educate us to ensure that we take better care of ourselves. In this psychological indie puzzle game, your mission is to dive deeper into your dreams to discover new truths and overcome emotional obstacles along the way.
What to Expect
YUME NIKKI ~Dream Diary~ is far from perfect and comes with a long list of flaws, but it does a good job of keeping you immersed while you wander around the dream world in search for clues to write in your diary. Much of your adventures will revolve around collecting specific items and then piecing them together in hopes to create more clarity, but with a handful of bugs along the way that often affect gameplay. The original was designed entirely in 2D and the latest rendition is all developed in 3D which gives both new and old players a new way of playing. Its linear approach to exploration and design flaws that prevent you from interacting with certain objects around you however, are what plague the game’s longevity and ultimately creates more nightmares than the dreams themselves. Let’s dive a little deeper to explore more of YUME NIKKI ~Dream Diary~, looking at both its pros and cons and then wrapping up with our consensus.
The game starts off in a very eerie fashion, as you come across a pool of blood and suddenly realize that someone had committed suicide. You then wake up from your dream to find yourself in your bedroom and now, it’s your goal to uncover more about what happened by jotting down events you encounter in your dreams. There are 6 dreams that you’re able to explore, each door representing a certain type of emotion but are all interconnected, which we’ll get into momentarily. The first section you start in is this real dark and spooky alleyway, where you’re being stalked by a pair of eyeballs. Why these eyeballs continue to stalk you and create problems for you is something you’ll come to discover toward the end game, but the level itself is quite dark and moody. There isn’t much exploration as the developers stated there would be as much of the game is quite linear in its approach, and there are limitations that prevent you from really roaming around openly.
One example is in the door which leads you to the train and your mission is to obtain specific items in order to progress. The problem here is that the game does a poor job of really providing you with hints of where to start, and so much of the game has you backtracking constantly. All that backtracking sometimes leads you nowhere because everything is just lacking in design and execution. The game in a way forces you to choose the right dream sequences and if you don’t, it makes the other dreams harder to solve. It’s basically fetch quests where the game directs you to grab item a so that item b and c can then open the door to grab item d, and so forth. What makes it real cumbersome is that collecting these items isn’t always easy and one of the items you receive in the early game, the Hamsa, doesn’t really do much for you. Some dream areas have you wandering around for a seemingly long time only to end up walking into a bug that prevents you from moving forward entirely. One example is when we were in the shopping mall and had to chase down the garbage bin. When we managed to catch the bin it got caught in between the wall and a door and so, the item that it had we weren’t able to obtain it. What made things even more taxing were the controls and how everything felt stiff, climbing felt robotic, and the grab detection system was poorly designed. It took us a long time to determine what our objective was when in the school and because of the flawed grab detection system, there were ledges that were meant to be climbed but the game decided not to let us do so.
We streamed a portion of the game on Twitch and even some of our viewers were puzzled at what the objective was and where we needed to go. Some items that you think should work on some NPCs don’t always work on them, which creates even more headaches. For example in the train section, once you’ve obtained your Flute, the first thing that comes to mind is a creature that’s located towards the low-end of the map. When you come across the creature the first time it shows a tune over its head and so you think, well this probably requires some sort of instrument to provoke it. So you tried playing the Flute in front of it and nothing happened, which only brought about more confusion. Due to the lack of quest details and just what you need to do at certain points leaves you walking around this dream wishing that it would all come to an end. You can leave the dream by holding down on the d-pad, allowing you to backtrack if need be but the bugs that you often encounter really plague the game’s appeal especially toward the end. We don’t want to spoil anything but we almost had to start over because of issues that got in the way of us clearing one of the two endings. The game only feels long because of the lack of direction and problems you encounter, so ultimately the game would take roughly 5-6 hours without these issues distracting you.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
In the end, YUME NIKKI ~Dream Diary~ had its interesting moments as it tried to depict a young child who’s trying to overcome her inner demons, while educating those who play the game on how to cope with emotional disorders. Many would see it as a touchy topic but we liked the fact that they use gameplay to illustrate the pains and struggles many of us go through, and how it can be hard sometimes to let go of what’s hurting us. However the game itself hurt us more because we just weren’t able to truly enjoy it the way we wanted to, and so it felt more like a bad dream than a lucid one. Bugs slow the game down to a halt, no clear instructions on how to successfully clear puzzles can be irritating, and the poor controls along with brainless NPCs just make you want to wake up and never go back to sleep.
- The 3D reimagination was an interesting take.
- The Nasu bonus game is real fun if you just want to pass time.
- Bugs all over the place.
- Poor controls.
- Too linear despite its “exploration” values.
- Too short to really enjoy anything (only feels longer due to aforementioned issues).
- $19.99 price tag is too steep for the quality you’re getting.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Fans of the series may find YUME NIKKI ~Dream Diary~ to be enticing but we feel that even the die hard fans will realize that the game has some cracks that need sealing up. Once those issues are solved perhaps the game would feel a lot more polished, but in its current state it feels rushed in many ways. We hope that a patch of some sort will fix these things but if not then we can only say that this one dream that we’ll have to stay away from.
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