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Dreamscaper invites everyone to its oneiric open alpha

You snooze, you lose, you repeat.

Roguelite action-RPGs these days are common enough, but few are as easy on the eyes as Dreamscaper. Set inside a frosted, autumnal world of memory fragments, players fight abstract monsters by night using a mixture of melee and ranged weaponry. When it all goes wrong and you take too many hits, you wake up, and spend points earned on more weapons, gear, or even comic-book superpowers (it's your dream, go wild) to see for the next night. Developers Afterburner Studios are confident enough in it to invite everyone to try out an early alpha version, if you go to their Discord channel for a free key. Below, a trailer.

I've only played a couple rounds so far, but definitely want to spend a little more time on it this weekend. It's a beautiful game, with muted audio and a surprisingly gentle soundtrack. Admittedly this does stand a bit at odds at you carving through dream-ghosts with baseball bats and katanas, but it's a nice contrast. There's some depth to the combat, with a dodge roll that (I believe) has invulnerability frames, blocking that if timed perfectly can turn into parries, and basic light-to-heavy combos that can be boosted by attacking just as your character flashes between swings.

Cover image for YouTube video

While mostly standard stuff, the dream-like aesthetic is used nicely in a few places. Rows of hexagonal Giants Causeway-esque stone barriers act as obstacles and can protect you from enemy bullets, but if you hit them or dodge into them, they fly into the air and fade into nothingness. The enemies are also an interesting mix of abstract bullet-shooting geometry and armed ghosts, plus the occasional snowy ogre-thing. I've not played far enough to get to any bosses, but if what I've played so far is any indication, there's some interesting stuff waiting.

While mostly polished, some parts of the alpha version are obviously still work-in-progress, like a pipe-connecting puzzle that clearly hasn't had a final art pass, and has a big 'prototype' sign floating over it. Still, even in this early state, it's a good time, and a treat to look at. It has good bones, and I'm excited to see what Afterburner hang from them.

You can find Dreamscaper here on Steam, and get a key for the alpha on the developer's official Discord channel here - a gamepad is recommended. You can read a bit more about it on its official page here. It's published by Maple Whispering Limited, who seem to be building up an offbeat but impressive library of games.

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Dominic Tarason