Deck-building roguelike Dream Quest now on Steam

You don’t need to know anything about Kadath to dig Dream Quest [Steam page]. Alec’s favourite game of 2014 has been available on PC for some time, though it’s more familiar in its tablet guise, but it has finally landed on Steam. Normally, I wouldn’t be all that excited about a two year old game appearing in a new store but the previous PC version wasn’t all that easy to find. I’d forgotten it existed, truth be told.

When Alec first told me about Dream Quest I looked it up on the Apple store and thought I must have found the wrong game. It looks like someone threw it together over their lunch break. Sixty hours of play later, I reckon there’s quite a bit more to it than that.

The first time you play Dream Quest you might think it’s a crap version of Desktop Dungeons. You choose a class and then explore a tiny randomised dungeon tile by tile. There are themed graphics – you might be in a weird forest or a weird desert or a weird someplace else – but the layout is nonsensical. You’ll find shops and monsters and maybe treasure chests. Monsters don’t move and you can see what level so the obvious tactic is to find ones at or around your own level so that you can kill them first, then level up and take on the tougher beasties, and eventually the boss of that floor.

Creatures have their own abilities and styles of attack, and defeating them requires careful use of your deck. Zombies, for instance, are feeble but if they bite you, you’ll die a few turns later unless you take them out first. Ideally, you’ll want a deck that allows you to deal with all kinds of creeps, but building that deck is tricky. You can buy cards, collect them, and ditch them. That last is very important – if you take every card you see, you’ll end up with a load of tat that you might draw at the worst possible time.

But whatever course you choose, that first impression will probably be underwhelming at best. There’s not a lot going on and that’s because Dream Quest is all about unlocking new classes, new cards and new abilities. Stick with it and it becomes a fascinating, tiny, short-form deck-builder. You can play a round in a short break but the real game spreads over many lives and many hours.

My initial reaction faded quickly and I’m with Alec now. Dream Quest is fab.

Dream Quest is £6.99/9,99€/$9.99 on Steam for Windows and Mac.

14 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Cooper says:

    Excellent game.

    I really hope there’s a sequel in the works. A lot of the game is hidden behind achivements that are purely grind-y, and I think the difficulty needs to be tweaked (or, rather, there needs to be more options for viable deck builds – a lot of classes basically come down to whether you get some core cards for key deck archetypes early on. If you don’t, you’re simply screwed).

    But more than this, the art really could do with a professional behind it. It’s charming, sure, but a bit more style wouldn’t hurt (see: Reign & Solitairica for card-game-RPGs with some well condiered art)

  2. Faldrath says:

    Oh, nice. I had been waiting for an Android version, and also forgotten about the PC one. Wishlisted!

    I love me some deck-building. If there’s a better Android game than Ascension, I haven’t found it yet. Is there?

    • Gothnak says:

      The only board/card game that gets played on my iPad as much as Dream Quest and Ascension is Lords of Waterdeep, 2 player vs AI.

      Star Realms is also quite good, but doesn’t have the longevity.

      And i’m waiting for the AI to be improved in Twilight Struggle and then i might get that too.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Arnvidr says:

    I own this but never played it. Far from easy to find and buy as far as I remember, so I must have been very interested.

  4. Winged Nazgul says:

    I’ve bought this twice already – once on PC and once on iOS. I will be buying it a third time to have it safely ensconced in my Steam collection.

    And I will be playing it. Lord help me, I will be playing it.

  5. Morph says:

    Started replaying with a new profile on my ipad just the other day. Might as well own it for another time. Genuinely brilliant game.

  6. Premium User Badge

    clweeks says:

    I just finally finished the last achievement of this on my phone a couple months ago. It was a tremendously worthwhile game even if not perfect. I too look forward to a sequel.

    Don’t be afraid to eat the squirrels.

  7. Gothnak says:

    Best game on iOS, worst graphics on iOS…

  8. Farnbeak says:

    This game is absolutely fantastic.
    Its the best digital noncompetetive deckbuilder game out there and IMO its the best one even if compared to competetive ones.
    Its the best ios game I played.
    Its also one of the best “don’t judge by the looks” examples.

    All those fancy looking AAA games let you build our own deck and give you a shallow quest/story mode to simulate a few situations from ‘real plays’ at best, and generally rely on the playerbase to shape the meta whether it will be absolutely satisfying or not.
    Dream Quest has this whole META level handcrafted at its core, living and breathing layered on top of its really simple game rules, breeding complexity as deep as you are comfortable with. This is a trait of masterpieces :)

    The game flow is a bit like a real world Draft tournament or that old 97′ MTG Shandalar game where you grow/edit your deck a step at a time with a few fights in between, but the fights in DQ take little time so the most attention goes to the actual deck building/choosing fights and the decisions are really important. Its not like Witchers’ Gwent where you just get better value cards.

    If I had a small personal museum for archaic tech, I’d have my old weary Ipad Mini 1 with only this one game installed right next to 1gen B&W Game Boy with Bionic comando stuck into it and a dusty calculator somewhere nearby.
    Just because its another thing that served me for years and its of terrific value (not even comparable with its price).

    Thx RPS and Alec Meer specifically for covering this game back in 2014!

  9. kshriner says:

    Incredibly fun deck builder. Two things you should know about Peter Whalen and Dream Quest:

    (1) The Graphics: His two daughters made them for him to be involved. (Age 11 and 7 at the time I think?) He’s gotten hammered for them in numerous reviews, but not only are they an example of gameplay over graphics, they are also special when you know who drew them.

    (2) Hearthstone/Blizzard team tweeted (?) out how the game was destroying productivity across the team.. Peter thanked them and after a few more back and forth’, they offered him a job! Hell of a way to have your resume speak for yourself..

    Incredible game, definitely hope to see more from him in the future. Don’t be put off by the graphics. While I thought he might offer an option for ‘original’ or ‘fancy’ to quiet critics and gain a wider audience, (most had no idea the backstory), he never did and I think that’s kind of cool too for his girls..

    • dglenny says:

      I didn’t know where the art came from. Now I feel slightly guilty for mentioning it to him in an email.

      Of course, after… a lot… of hours playing it, I can’t imagine the art being anything else now. It’s become the Matrix code.

      On a different note, the iOS game Lost Portal is scratching a similar itch to Dream Quest for me now. I do love these single-player CCG-esque things.

    • Winged Nazgul says:

      There’s a third thing you should know about Peter Whalen:

      3. Richard Garfield is a fan of this game. link to facebook.com He has even suggested a wishlisted feature that Peter eventually added in an update – the ability to save game states as codes so you or others can play through the same game seed.

  10. kshriner says:

    Thanks for the tip as well dglenny! Missed that one somehow, giving it a go now. But for everyone else: Play dream quest first! ;)