Dreamscaper - PC Preview

Dreamscaper by developer Afterburner Studios and publishers Freedom Games and Maple Whispering LimitedPC review written by Pierre-Yves.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

With everything that has gone wrong so far with 2020, Afterburner Studios’ Dreamscaper: Prologue was perhaps one of the few things that didn’t. Combining an excellent and easy on the eyes artstyle with an evolving Roguelike that offers a bit of social simulation on the side, finishing the Prologue and the Supporter Edition’s bonus stage simply left me wanting more.

Being rather upfront, I loved the Prologue and have been waiting as patiently as possible for the preview builds to go live so that I could not only sink more time into it, but also discover what has been newly added. Getting my wish, Dreamscaper’s current Early Access build hosts a whole new set of levels and some new features that just make it worth going through all over again. In the grand scheme of things though, there’s not that much that has changed between the prologue and the Early Access build that couldn’t still be covered in our article from back in April, but, we are going to go back through it all anyways!

For those coming to us now though, Dreamscaper is

“A surreal, roguelite inspired ARPG with modernized hack'n'slash combat about lucid dreaming. Warp the dreamscape around you to battle a nightmarish depression that lives in a young woman’s subconscious. DREAM. DIE. WAKE. REPEAT.”

Taking on the role of a young woman named Cassidy who’s recently moved into this new town seemingly for work, you get to meet and get to know her coworkers as well as some of the locals in the possible few hours that Cassidy has “free” at the end of the day. At first it can feel a bit hollow as you ease into the combat heaviness but Dreamscaper soon shows its colors as you earn enough rapport with those that can be interacted with. Not only does Cassidy start to have meaningful conversations, but deeping Cassidy’s bonds with these people will start to unlock new possible abilities and weapons that Cassidy can use while dreaming. Only being able to chat in bursts at first, as you continue to fight hordes of monsters in her dreams you’ll soon be able to make presents to help move these possible conversations along. Think, Atlus’ Persona series on a much smaller scale.

The rest of the time, you’ll be hacking & slashing your way through different visual environments. Keeping the first two environments from the Prologue for a sense of familiarity, you’ll soon be coming up against new visuals and tougher foes that make you wonder if dying was really your fault. This is a Roguelike, and with all Roguelikes, chance is a very big part of it all. New weapons, new powerful abilities, new upgrades to existing ones, health potions, keys and bombs to unlock passageways. It’s all random and sometimes it’s all in the cards while other times? You either “git gud” or try all over again.

Dreamscaper is a true Roguelike. It’s not a Roguelight, Roguelite, Roguelike-ish, it’s a Roguelike. You have access to everything that you can hold onto until you die. Once you do? You start all over from scratch including all of the ability and stat upgrades such as extra attack, defense and health from defeating the bosses of a stage. The only thing you ever keep are the dropped items to help you craft gifts for those with which have the above mentioned benefits. Making things perhaps a touch easier than the Prologue however is that once you’ve defeated a boss, it’s your choice whether you want to face off against them all over again for all of the loot that they can drop, or take the easy way up and simply acquire the upgrade. That, is your choice.

Now this next part is subtle, but I really appreciated it and I don’t know if it would have worked so well if Dreamscaper wasn’t a Roguelike. The lucid dreaming that Cassidy does is her way of fighting against her depression. Having been depressed, and I don’t mean casually moping around for a few days because life decided to suck, but really depressed because of suddenly losing my father and then eventually going to therapy for it, it’s hard and a lot of days will not be victories. Not even small ones and Dreamscaper because of being a Roguelike and heavily luck based simulates that as some nights the battle is basically lost before it even begins and that cuts into Cassidy’s social time as she just won’t feel up to it. And it’s ok. There’s always the next night to start over and try to get back on your feet. It’s a long process. It’s hard as hell, and the gameplay reflects this as you help Cassidy fight against her demons.


So overall, from the Prologue into the Early Access build where Dreamscaper will continue to be refined, I would heavily suggest it to both fans of combat based adventures as well as fans of Roguelikes. The only real question left to ask from this point will be what will the final version hold in store for us? Until then though? May your aim be true and your lucid dreaming victorious!

Score: N/A