As we speak, Specialbit Studios is trying to get The Last Dream greenlit on Steam; but I’ve just finished a demo, about an hour long, of the upcoming adventure game. The basic premise is that you, sensitive young European (or perhaps Eastern European) guy that you are, are distraught because, first, your wife recently died in a car accident, and two, she’s been even more recently visiting you in your dreams. She’s trying, of course, to tell you something. But it’s a dream, so it’s not clear. Worse, it’s an adventure game, so you know you’ve got some work to do before getting the answer. Fortunately, all is not as grim as it seems, because the game, at least, looks like a lot of fun to play. Even better, it has very nice graphics, a soothing soundtrack and some engaging puzzles. I don’t know what your chances of getting your wife back alive are, but chances are good that players will enjoy this adventure game.
The developer is new to me but this appears not to be their first game. The Last Dream looks and plays like an elaborate casual adventure, though it at times, I also reminded me of Sanitarium, that nineties classic of carnival nightmaring. The visuals are richly candy-colored but there’s not much navigating. Most of the scenes are one straight-ahead view, with paths diverging off to other, similar self-contained areas. The puzzles, at least in the demo, are an interesting mix of regular adventure inventory tasks and some stand-alone logic puzzles. The Eight Queens puzzles, for instance, return yet again! There are also some hidden-object game challenges. Not my favorite, but well-presented, I thought. The story is presented in live-action cut scenes as you progress through the different dreamscape areas of the game. The dead wife, 7th Guest-like, stays just out of your reach, leading you on with her long dress billowing in the dreamy breeze. You show up in these cut scenes too, as a pleasantly forlorn and suitably confused guy in your mid-twenties.
The game starts off with a choice of three (count ’em) difficulty levels. I chose the least amount of help, of course but, of course, the game still gave me lots of help, as most games are wont to do nowadays. You also get some help from a Cheshire-catlike feline. You free said tabby from its bonds early on and it parks in your inventory row on the bottom of the screen, where you can “use” it to help you out with the occasional task that you are just too big and clumsy to perform.
I enjoyed my demo tour through the game world of The Last Dream, and I suppose I should -- for the sake of the developers -- hope that it does get greenliit on Steam, as that appears to be the Holy Grail of adventure gaming of late. But what I’d really like is if the game would be distributed independently. That, alas, is no doubt too much to hope for.