What if Kameo was on drugs?
Some games are just weird. There is no other way to describe them. Whether it is their art style, or the gimmicks in their mechanics, these titles stand out from the pack by bringing something unique to the surface. Daydreamer is one of those games. Looking at screenshots, the words “nightmare fuel” come to mind. The characters and art style are unlike anything else out there. Peel that back though, and what bubbles to the top is a relatively mediocre side scroller that has some cool ideas, but ultimately drowns in its needless complexity.
Daydreamer’s story and setting feel ripped right out of a cheesy 70s sci-fi movie. The story certainly has aspects of being interesting. Players assume the role of the last human on Earth. Aliens have invaded and completely decimated all life on the planet. My character was kept as a sort of trophy, who is awakened from the stasis she is in by the Immortal Gate Keeper. She is then tasked with escaping, and well saving the world of course.
Price I’d Pay: $7.99
Sounds cool right?
Unfortunately, the dialogue throughout the game is quickly glossed over, and nothing ever really manifests from the interesting plot device. It also doesn’t help that the game focuses more on the side scrolling action than anything else. Not a bad thing per se, but a sad waste of a cool narrative.
From a game play perspective, Daydreamer is a pretty straightforward side scrolling action game. Think of the millions of character titles from the 90s and you get the idea. The main character moves left-to-right, jumping, shooting, and grabbing onto ledges. She also has a teleport that helps her across long gaps. Everything is sound and works fine, but the design feels off.
For example, there are plenty of areas that feel confined. Jumping from point A to point B seems simple enough, but I would quickly grab onto a ledge, or miss the platform entirely due to the environment. Considering this also plays by old school platformer rules and has specific checkpoints and non-regenerating health, having the design do damage is frustrating. That is really a great word to describe a lot of the action in Daydreamer: frustrating.
Players have access to an array of weapons. There are also melee attacks and helper pets; I will explain this more in a second. The weapon combat feels sloppy. None of the guns feel great to shoot, and the way the game is designed oftentimes has enemies just out of reach of the weapon, making hitting them more of a chore than a joy. The helper pets range in their abilities. I started off with a turtle that would heal damage, but eventually gained access to others including flying cat that fires bullets while meowing.
Daydreamer’s biggest problem is its execution. The zoomed-in perspective leads to a lot of issues, but things like a vague tutorial, weapon pickups with no discernable markings, and so much more only lead to frustration. The game seems to focus more on its aesthetic than actually being functional at times.
Speaking of the presentation, this game is truly a visual showcase. The creature design is outstanding, and really looks unlike anything else I have ever seen. The world feels alien, and the animations are really well done. I simply love the look of this game, and it would be easy to see how someone would purchase it on that aspect alone.
Daydreamer had the potential to be a sleeper hit in the Summer of lacking game releases, sadly it falls short on the most important of game fundamentals. I wanted to love this game a lot more than I do, but it just misses all the important notes in its execution.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.