Howard Phillips is a recent graduate whose life is filled with questions and uncertainty. Every night after he falls asleep his dreams become a vivid reflection of his state of mind; his worries and hopes brought to life in a maddening desert-maze where he has to unlock puzzles in order to get a better understanding of himself and the purpose of his life.
Our journey begins…
Let me start by saying that the game is absolutely beautiful. This might not be apparent at first because the starting area is a living room, but once we enter the dream, the environment becomes a lot more playful. Floating blocks and out of place items are scattered across the landscape for our enjoyment, although we often find ourselves staring at sand dunes and cliff-sides. As we wander around looking for clues, the calm, soothing soundtrack makes the immersion complete. Howard will occasionally surprise us with his comments about skinny dipping and reading warning signs more carefully. The more time we spend in the cruel isolation of this barren land, the more we come to appreciate his voice.
…we make little progress…
After what seems to have been an eternity -in fact it was only 30 min – we come across a pamphlet! A blessing! We suddenly discover that we have an inventory that we can toggle and realize that we can use the flashlight that we picked up fifteen minutes ago. We also discover that the pamphlet is also a map, which is very useful because there is no minimap and we have to rely on memory to keep track of our movements. We glance over the map to see what we have missed.
Well, we basically missed everything. No worries! We have a map now and a better understanding of the game!
We look for signs to provide more direction… literally.
There are also small posts with black arrows on them. They are less helpful since we can’t always be sure where they are pointing at.
We decide to head to the Graveyard. This puzzle frustrates us to no end.
There is a set of tombstones with lights on them. The lights can be toggled on and off on each grave and the purpose of the puzzle is to have all the lights lit up. Didn’t happen, we got stuck. Decided to move on.
We had more luck collecting items such as these tiny paper clippings. They contain information about dreams, such as what is the meaning of certain
elements, like a cave, or a maze. They are interesting to read and probably determine the outcome of the story.
…but we shall prevail!
We decided to call it a day. It was time for Howard to wake up and ironically it was time for us to go to sleep. We agreed to return another day and try again.
I found this game really difficult, mostly because of the puzzles. If you get upset easily, I would say this game is not for you. It does require some patience, resolve, and an eye for detail. If you lack these qualities, you might find yourself walking aimlessly in a desert for long minutes, in which case you have to find your inner peace to deal with the situation. I would say, depending on your personality, the game can be a frustrating experience or a relaxing one. It is a not a game that you can rush through. You need to sit down and think, maybe grab a sketchbook to write down your thoughts.
Even though I found the game challenging, I know I will definitely keep playing it because of it’s immersive gameplay and beautiful soundtrack. Moreover, there are some things I’m looking forward to, for the following reasons:
- There are three different endings to the story. This is interesting in itself and makes me want to know more about Howard and what he is going through.
- More dreams. I only got to experience the never ending river of sand, but if I ever get to progress, I know there are more beautiful landscapes to explore. This, I want to do very much.
Hopefully, I can unlock at least one of the three endings. Thank you for tagging along on this journey!
I hope you enjoyed this review,
see you next week!