Yume Nikki: Dream Diary launches tomorrow

Yume Nikki

Time flies, eh? It feels like just a month ago that Japanese media conglomerate Kadokawa announced a successor to minimalist indie adventure Yume Nikki, working in close collaboration with Kikiyama, mysterious developer of the original game, and it’s almost here already.

Oh. It was just a month ago.

Sneaking up on us like a particularly unsettling memory of a nightmare, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is less than a day from release. Accompanying this news is a rather unsettling trailer, painting a somewhat darker picture of protagonist Madotsuki’s dreams than anything we saw first time round.

This new trailer comes only a few days after the release of a short prologue teaser. While I’ll not spoil the specifics for anyone who hasn’t worked their way through the original (which is free on Steam), the teaser does strongly imply that this new game is a direct sequel, as opposed to some sort of remake or reimagining.

The launch trailerĀ feels somewhat darker than the original game. While deeply surreal and occasionally sinister in tone, the original never felt violent. This new game has a much more overtly horrific feel to it, with Madotsuki’s dreams having shifted somewhat from the abstract and nonsensical (although those are still present and correct) to the grimly realistic, full of worn-down hallways and crumbling urban environments. These strange structures are populated with a significantly more menacing breed of creatures as well, some of which look overtly hostile.

All in all, I don’t think the poor girl is doing too well.

Surprisingly, despite Kadokawa’s backing, the game has a pointedly stiff look to it. This isn’t a AAA high-budget reimagining, but rather feels like a natural switch up to the third dimension, direct from the chunky sprites of the original. Not to say that there aren’t some striking scenes in the trailer, but whether through intent or just a shortfall in budget, it looks authentically low-fi.

Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is out tomorrow morning, and can be bought direct from Playism (who localized it and the original freeware game), or Steam, although the former gets you a Steam key anyway.

6 Comments

  1. oyog says:

    Some of the atmosphere in the trailer reminded me a lot of Silent Hill 1+2. I think primarily for the soundtrack, foley work and a handful of environments.

    Not having played the original (yet), is that a theme there too?

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      The first game was often unsettling and did have some creepy audio, but it was mostly minimalist stuff, built in an old version of RPG Maker of all things. It played like a massive, surreal scavenger hunt with some light Metroidy elements, with some of the collectible items you’re hunting for being just for laughs, while others open up new areas or let you traverse old zones faster.

      The sequel looks to change just about everything, although a lot of the environments in the trailer are based on scenes from the original.

  2. R. Totale says:

    “the original never felt violent”
    What, you mean you didn’t go through the game stabbing everything you could possibly stab?

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      I suppose I should have phrased it a little better: The *world* seldom felt violent.

      The poor girl just have to relieve some frustration sometimes, and if that means stabbing the entire dream-world, then so be it.

  3. Nixitur says:

    I’m still really skeptical about having Madotsuki as the protagonist to a straight-up sequel. Really, I feel like the original wrapped up her, for lack of a better word, story quite clearly. Or as clear as Yume Nikki can be, which is not very. I suppose it could be a prequel.
    But even then, another issue remains. Sequel or prequel, I feel like they would have to make a lot of things very explicit which were intentionally left open and vague in the original. And I’m not a big fan of that.

  4. upupup says:

    I have low hopes for this.