Dreamscaper is a surreal roguelite action RPG from Freedom Games and Afterburner Studios on Nintendo Switch. Learn more about it in our Dreamscaper review!
Dreamscaper is a surreal roguelite action RPG from Freedom Games and Afterburner Studios on Nintendo Switch. It places you in the role of Cassidy, who by day will explore the city of Redhaven, building new relationships and slowly but surely making some progress as you help her unlock new permanent upgrades so that by night she can survive the dream sequences in her subconscious, where she has to face the nightmares that haunt her body and soul, in an ever-changing world. Death is very much part of the process since you won’t be able to survive in the dream world forever.
Afterburner Studios took the game to Kickstarter back in 2019. The team had a main goal of $25,000, and once the campaign was over, they managed to secure over $52,000 in funding thanks to the support of more than 1,000 backers. This allowed them to work on completing the project in full while also managing to reach a stretch goal for the new Negativity boss, as well as having the funds for a very special stretch: porting the game to the Nintendo Switch! It’s because of this that today we get to play one of the best roguelite action RPG games that the system has to offer.
Enemies, and the bosses you’ll have to battle, will be the embodiment of bad feelings from the memories in Cassidy’s life, such as Isolation, Negativity, Loss, and Fear. For example, Fear will be one of the bosses you face, and it will be a large aquatic entity that will try to destroy Cassidy over a very chilly lake, and you’ll have to help her defeat Fear before you can continue your descent into her subconscious. Because of this, you must make the most of the moments during which Cassidy is awake so that you can use the hope and positivity of the people around her so that you can help her survive the nightmares that haunt her mind, body, and soul.
During the day segments, you’ll be taking on the waking world in the city of Red Haven, which will expand with new locations and new characters you meet as you explore further and further into the Dreamscape. The actions and choices made in the waking world will allow Cassidy to be better equipped for the challenges she’ll face during the dream world segments. She can Daydream by spending Glass to expand the Dreamscape, unlocking new items and abilities to buy at the merchant, unlocking new puzzle rooms, new challenge rooms, or adding rooms with fountains that help to recover your health or your Lucid stock.
Once you’re going up against the nightmares in the dream world, you’ll control Cassidy with the left analog stick, using your melee attack with the Y button, and the alternate melee attack with the X button, which you’ll have to use to break the guard of your enemies. If you time your attacks to perform combos by hitting enemies during white flash prompts, you will perform a perfect attack, which will allow Cassidy to deal bonus damage, which can prove to be very useful when you’re surrounded by enemies or trying to deal the final blow to a tricky boss. To stay alive, you’ll have to dodge at the right time by pressing the B button. You can also defend yourself with the ZL button and use a ranged attack with the ZR button to deal damage from a safe distance. Aim with the right analog stick to line up your shot, press the ZR button, and take care of opponents with the might of your shots.
Your primary and secondary abilities can be used with the L and R buttons. You will also have a special ability and a bomb that can be used by pressing up or down on the D-Pad. The special ability is called Lucid Rush, and it will slow down time so that you can unleash a world of pain on your opponents by gaining the upper hand. Check your map by pressing in on the left analog stick to see where you’re going, and check your inventory with the minus button so that you can make the most of the items you obtain.
As you defeat enemies and destroy obstacles in the dream world, you will get to collect Sand, which is represented by the total shown on the hourglass in the bottom left corner of the screen. Sand can be used to purchase items in the shop areas you will find. Some items will show up right away, while others will first need you to daydream for a bit. You could buy things such as a Security Blanket, which can be used to conjure a Companion to help Cassidy, new melee and long-range weapons, or Lucid Attacks such as the Black Hole, which pulls an enemy into the gravity well.
Remember how I mentioned you’ll be able to unlock permanent upgrades for Cassidy to use in the dream world? You can purchase these with the Resolve you collect during the day segments, as you interact with different locations and characters. Once you have enough Resolve, you can decide to meditate to unlock a new perk. These perks include things such as Develop a Healthy Mindset, which will increase Cassidy’s total health by five points with every rank increase, Use My Skills Together, which will boost her critical damage percentage, or Don’t Let My Inner-Demons Get To Me, a perk that will increase the damage you deal to bosses, to name some examples.
Cassidy can also find Inspiration in the Dreamscape, which will allow her to sketch out new ideas, and after reaching some milestones, her creativity will surge while exploring Red Harvest, finding Crafting Recipes. Be on the look for shining blue energy so that you can interact with it with the A button and collect it. While Crafting, Cassidy can spend her Inspiration in one of the 46 recipes the game has to offer. These items will be gifts she can give to the citizens of Red Haven, so you’ll have to, say, find who will like to have a Hand-crafted Coaster. You won’t find out who would like what gift until you have a chat with them and end up giving them the gift to see if it’s something they enjoy.
As you improve your relationships with others, you will get to unlock and level up Equippable Influences. These Equippable Influences will be available in your Journal. It’s from there that you can select your loadout for subsequent trips into the Dreamscape so that you don’t start with a random melee weapon and a random long-range weapon. You will also find and unlock new shoes to alter your dodge roll, new shields to improve your blocking, and new Lucid Attacks. As an example, and as to not spoil things too much, the first Equippable Influence you’ll get is from Eve, who works at the lounge. By equipping it, you will improve your ranged attacks by a specific percentage, and the more you get to know Eve and level up your relationship, the bigger the boost to your ranged damage, max Lucid, and projectile speed.
I had been looking forward to playing Dreamscaper on Nintendo Switch since the team managed to reach the Nintendo Switch stretch goal during their Kickstarter campaign, and I’m happy to report that the final product is a very fun roguelite with a charming art style, fun gameplay mechanics, a good progress system that allows you to bring yourself one step closer to the end of Cassidy’s journey. You’ll get to learn more about the traumas that Cassidy has gone through and how you help her to overcome the feelings of fear, negativity, loss, and more that haunt her dreams. Dreamscaper is out on Nintendo Switch with a $24.99 asking price, and it’s worth every penny.
This Dreamscaper review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Freedom Games.