GAME NAME: Dreamals
RELEASE DATE(S): 11/17/2015
Stop me if you’ve heard this one – a goat, a parrot, and a raccoon (or badger or something) walk into a puzzling dreamscape…
Dreamals is a small, interesting release from Korean developer Xiness. In it, you play as a combination of the three creatures, traversing puzzle stages to retrieve keys to escape this dream universe. Its 80 stages are broken into themes, like Jungle, Forest, etc. The puzzle aspect comes from a few clever gimmicks that generally require a moment’s thought before kicking off a stage.
Your three animals can only do one thing alone – the goat can only walk right, the raccoon can only walk left, and the parrot can only jump. But walk these guys into one-another, and you can combine their abilities. Walk your goat into a parrot and now you can walk right AND jump. Combine all three and you can go in any direction. But the sequence of these combinations is sometimes the difference between solving the puzzle and whipping the controller at the floor.
These puzzles are PRECISE. Some require very deft movement and timing. Many of the stages will have multiples of the same character – three raccoons, for example – and you can’t just combine them all free-wheeling. Sometimes you’ll have to walk your goat under a hopping parrot to hit a switch to drop some blocks so your raccoon can… you know what, I’ll just show you.
That’s an easier stage. The difficulty and puzzling nature ramps up in later stages, including movable crates, those numbered blocks, switches, teleporters, monsters, gophers that launch your dude up in the sky… There’s a lot of factors into successfully completing a level.
However, that part comes with a bit of an unfortunate reality – there’s only one solution for each stage. Once you learn the sequence of things to do, there’s little room for experimentation or trying a new solution. a few stages have tight, timed jumps that have to be made on the first try…
…but aside from those, it’s generally a slow trial-and-error restartfest until your brain clicks into a solution.
Not to say that’s a terrible thing, though. This game was obviously well thought-out, with some very interesting puzzles that are extremely satisfying to finish. And with 80 of them, there are some tricky ones that you could get caught up on. Too bad there’s not a “skip level” feature.
The game has a cute, quirky aesthetic that screams Korean Developer at every turn. Everything is stylized to fit into the one-block size, so even though your animals are (in real life) much differently sized, their game counterparts fit right in to the one square block. It’s super kawaii kenpo annyong whatever – but it thankfully doesn’t detract from the precise puzzler nature that the game is all about.
This game is way more clever than a $5 title should be. Its complete lack of violence and reasonable learning curve make it a great buy to get a little nephew or niece to stop harassing you for a few minutes, and the tougher puzzles are good stumpers that are very satisfying to finish.