Beautiful Nightmare: Doomdream Recreates FPS Dreams

I think of the ultra-bloody mod Brutal Doom as how Doom is to the imagination of an ten-year-old, with all the guts and the gore and the ripping and the tearing. Ian MacLarty’s Doomdream [official site] is a very different imagined take on Doom.

Doomdream’s a curious free little game that MacLarty calls “An impression of my dreams after I’ve been playing Doom all day.” It’s an abstract explore ’em up that doesn’t look like Doom, yet still feels a lot like it. Have a look.

The world is all sharp angles and crude geometry, ceilings with interesting shapes jutting out of them and floors which rise for no real reason. Littering the place are mounds of red and brown with white spikes, abstract dead Imp carcasses or gibbed bodies that bleed and merge into the ground and seem as much part of the level as the walls.

A shotgun-ish shape hangs in the centre of the screen. You can’t fire it, but it’s always there, a permanent fixture of the view in a Doomdream.

I really enjoyed running around for a few minutes. Areas, views, and textures feel familiar yet unplaceable in the way dream worlds can, not looking like their inspiration but still capturing something of it.

(While I’m talking up dreamy games: do go play 2:22AM. It’s free too.)


  1. DizzyCriminal says:

    I’ve had Doom dreams, some scary and nightmarish, some surreal and odd. There is something so otherworldly yet visceral about Doom anyway that makes it dream like. You’re there experiencing the horror, but its floaty and the designs are so bold to remind you its all make believe.

    • wcq says:

      I agree, and I think a lot of us have had those dreams.

      There’s a certain predictable repeatability to the game mechanics that make Doom in particular good material for dreams. It might also be the deliberately abstract and dreamlike level design that gives places a vague theme without trying to create anything realistic.

  2. Kaeoschassis says:

    It does feel very familiar, like bits and pieces of the game haphazardly glued together, but none of them big enough to actually be recognizable.

    I was just re-reading Doomworld’s 10 year Doom anniversary stuff a couple weeks ago, actually, and it struck me how the tone of the whole thing was so… resigned? A decade ago they honestly thought Doom’s entire community was coming to an end. Now, with the game 21 years old and still inspiring so many people to create so much STUFF, I find myself wondering how the hell anybody could have believed that.

    And yeah, I’ve had some pretty surreal dreams after one too many long doom sessions. Good stuff.

  3. Flit says:

    I love this concept, would be interesting so see it applied to other games.