Have You Played… The Dream Machine?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Cockroach certainly never intended to take nearly five years to finish hand-made point-n-click The Dream Machine. What was intended to be six chapters over a few months has become essentially one a year. But with each one better than the last, and the fifth chapter due to appear before the end of the year (apparently to be as long as the first four put together), now is the perfect time to play through in preparation.

The Dream Machine first grabbed our attention in 2011 with its hand-made sets, and claymation characters. While not the only game to do it, it’s still a very rare treat, and it looked especially enticing here. This proved to be the case, with an opening chapter that was special for so many reasons. Not only were the sets and animation utterly wonderful, this first release had the confidence to barely introduce its core plot until the very end – before then, it focused on character establishment, giving you a reason to care about this little clay guy, and the machine that would trap the population of their block of flats in a dream world. Calmly showing a couple in the confusion of having just moved house, it established a depth of normality before plunging into fantasy.

Each chapter since has improved upon the last, with puzzles getting more interesting, and explorations of dreams handled in an interesting, mature way. You can pick up all chapters, including those as yet unreleased, for €16 from the developers, or via Steam for £12. It’s worth noting they regularly update all four existing chapters, tweaking and improving as they go.

7 Comments

  1. daphne says:

    It was originally intended to be five chapters actually!

    Genuinely one of the best adventures I’ve played. I’ve always felt this and the Blackwell games resemble one another in that the fantasy set-up of both games is really just a cover for telling stories of human condition.

  2. james___uk says:

    I’ve only played the first two or three, I told myself I’d wait for it to be done before I carried on and now it is! It’s really good so far, it’s interesting, intriguing, it looks differently cool and the settings are great with all those dreamscapes

  3. MashPotato says:

    This is indeed an excellent adventure game. Normally I always wait for chapter-based games to be completed before I play, but I make an exception for this one ;)

  4. epmode says:

    In spite of the adventure game resurgence of the last few years, very few of the new games even approach the classics. This one does. It has a lovely art style (which is not uncommon) and it’s surprisingly well written (which practically never happens).

    You should buy it, RPS.

    PS Just so you know where I’m coming from, these are my favorite adventure games since the death of Lucasarts:
    The Blackwell series (I <3 Dave Gilbert)
    Dreamfall and Dreamfall Chapters
    Machinarium

  5. Vandro says:

    I bought this when chapter two was released but I haven’t played it since the release of chapter three. I decided to wait until it’s finished before buying it again on Steam and playing it to completion.

    It’s an incredible piece of work. Sometimes I wonder how the developers can be immersed in this project for so long, building all those beautiful sets and models, without loosing their minds.

  6. kalirion says:

    Bought the pack ages ago on a $5 sale, waiting for all the episodes/chapters to be released.

  7. Bassem says:

    Played the first three chapters, now waiting for the final chapter so I can replay the whole thing. Such a good game, with only one or two frustrating puzzles. Lovely art, unsettling themes and tones, go buy it if you haven’t yet.