Posted by Ron DelVillano
A dream come true
We all know that there are plenty of puzzle games available on the DSiWare service, but every now and again one pops up that has just the right amount of charm to merit attention. Dreamwalker, the intriguing new puzzle game from Code Mystics, fits that description perfectly. From a silly concept to engaging and endearing visual and audio design, this is sure to fit nicely in your DSiWare collection.
Dreamwalker tells the story of Walker, a sleepwalking man who needs your helping finding his way to the sunrise. It is your job to adjust his path and help him avoid traps and distractions that would potentially wake him up. While the story may not be very deep or rich, it is just enough to explain the silly and colourful adventure that Walker is about to embark on.
When you begin a new game, a profile will automatically be created for you, using the name that you have given to your DSi console. This name can later be changed in the profiles option menu, from which you can also choose to create another save file entirely, with three profiles allowed. Once you begin playing, you will be dropped immediately into the first level. A tutorial will present itself and explain the basics of gameplay, while each level that introduces a new element will also feature a tutorial, which can be skipped at will. The option to skip these tutorials is a much appreciated one, as they can sometimes drag on a little longer than necessary.
The way that Dreamwalker works is that rather than controlling Walker himself, you instead control the path upon which he walks. By tapping different clusters of clouds you can rotate them in such a way to safely guide the protagonist on his path, as he aimlessly and unyieldingly shambles forward. While the D-Pad can be used to move the camera around in order to see more of the level, the DSi stylus is your primary tool for this game. Fortunately, the controls are tight and responsive enough to allow for quick reactions.
Different traps, such as ringing alarm clocks and singing birds, can get in Walker’s way and wake him up, so the necessary strategy not only involves guiding him to the sunrise, but also out of the way of these distractions. Different elements, like disappearing rainclouds that Walker must step across and teleporters that send him across the level, eventually work their way into the game, so your strategy will constantly change in order to progress safely.
Once Walker reaches the sunrise, the level is over and you are given a score based on how quickly you finished the level. If he is woken up, however, you will have to start the whole level again. The default setting allows you to have three attempts to reach sunrise, but this amount can be adjusted in the options menu. Though the first few levels may be considerably easy, don’t be fooled. Advancing through the game brings on many new challenges that can, at times, be unrelenting.
While playing the main game, you will sometimes be given the opportunity to play other mini-games in the levels. Collecting a certain amount of sheep or approaching cows in the main game will allow Walker to participate in one of two mini-games, which involve either spinning clouds in order to knock away prizes or surviving for an extended period of time on an alien spaceship. These games are entirely optional and while they do provide a slight variety in the gameplay, they don’t last very long. They are, however, a great way to boost your high score and change things up a bit. It is a shame that the lack of length in these mini-games, combined with the main levels, mean that this title feels a little light on content.
One of the biggest draws of this title is the audio and visual presentation. The soundtrack is full of rich and engaging songs that perfectly reflect the light-hearted nature of the game. Even the music in the menu has a comforting appeal to it. The visuals have a very cartoony look to them, which makes the experience that much more appealing. Like the music, the visual aesthetic does wonders for advancing the tone and feel of the game as a whole.
Dreamwalker is a fun and light-hearted action puzzle game that can appeal to audiences of all ages. Spanning 40 levels of varying difficulty, this title is sure to provide entertainment to any member of the family, while it lasts. It may be true that there is a plethora of puzzle games already available on the DSiWare service, but why not make room for one more? The concept is bizarre and the graphics are cute, but it’s just the right mixture of odd to not pass up.