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Dream Fears in a nutshell

by StuckArcader


Web Site

(based on 2 ratings)
2 reviews

Game Details


5th Place, Freestyle - ParserComp 2023


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Number of Reviews: 2
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Dreamweaver, September 22, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: ParserComp 2023

Iím fairly certain that in some review of some ParserComp game past, Iíve had occasion to muse on the difference between a jam (typically meaning a less-formal event where games are newly-written under the pressure of an imminent deadline, where participation and coming up with a clever idea are highly valued) and a comp (generally entailing games that were started well before the formal opening of the event, placing a high value on completeness and polish, and of course, resulting in formal rankings and the crowning of a winner). Due to a strange confluence of factors, ParserComp straddles this line in an occasionally awkward fashion: itís got ďcompĒ in the name, and it comes out of the mainline comp-obsessed IF community, but itís run on itch.io Ė a hotbed of jam culture that doesnít so much as have a category for competitions, meaning ParserComp is in fact technically a jam.

(Ah yes, I am repeating myself Ė I went into a longer, more interesting soliloquy on this subject in my review of Anitaís Goodbye from last year; consider it incorporated by reference).

Anyway I of course bring this up because Dream Fears in a nutshell, in a nutshell, is a jam game. Its entry page says it was written in a day, it apologizes twice for being shitty, and the author admits they had no time. Judged in jam terms, and given those constraints, itís actually not bad! Itís got a single idea that I havenít seen before Ė what if you did a parser game as a completely linear audiovisual spectacle, where at regular points the main character (a blocky sort of Minecraft fellow soaring through a neon-soaked nightmare and confronting his fears) finds his progress blocked by a prompt that tells you what you need to type next. If you type the required phrase, you move on to the next bit; if you donít, well, you can always just type it again.

Thatís it. Thatís the game, modulo one late ďtwistĒ where youíre given a purely cosmetic choice of which of your top three fears you want to face as the final boss.

This is a novel idea Ė Iíve never come across it before Ė and Iím not sure whether that last decision-point is meant as a joke, but I certainly found it funny. But itís also not an idea that cries out for expanding or deeper examination; itís just a jam idea, quick and to the point. Judged in comp terms, itís clearly a fiasco.

How are we to resolve the dichotomy? Is there a Hegelian synthesis allowing us to transcend this seemingly ineluctable dialectic? I dunno man, I sure canít think of one. I think itís kind of cool that experiments like this end up in ParserComp; itís certainly worth the five minutes it takes to play. But at the same time, I feel bad for well-meaning jam-oriented authors who unwittingly wander into what Iím sure is a buzz-saw of negative criticism. And, well, I have to cop to being part of that buzz-saw, because I canít say I rated Dream Fears well. So I guess Iíll just post this review as an almost-apology, and shelve the conundrum until it inevitably recurs next year.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An extended dream in Unity with nominal parser interactivity, July 2, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game is written in Unity engine. It uses Roblox-like characters to tell a brief story of a man sleeping and dreaming and confronting his fears.

This game technically uses a parser but in actuality the game tells you what to type at every step, waiting until you type it correctly before moving on. There are about 10 opportunities to type. In one of them, you get to make a choice.

The graphics are amusing, although the game says they were made in one day.

+Polish: No bugs
+Descriptiveness: The text is barebones, but the art helps
-Interactivity: Very little
-Would I play again? Don't enjoy Unreal Engine very much
-Emotional impact: Kind of muted by long slow timed sequences.

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This is version 3 of this page, edited by JTN on 1 July 2023 at 2:34am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page