Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Dream Game Poster Image
Dream game is conceptually a nightmare to understand.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Main focus of game is to try to understand one's dreams, subconscious, which could be a positive goal in the real world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character, Howard, feels almost devoid of any real personality, identity. You discover bits about his past throughout game, but he still lacks any real substance, either positive or negative.

Ease of Play

Basic point-and-click controls are simple enough; problem is that game lacks real direction, consistency, so you never know what you're supposed to do next.


Howard is occasionally attacked in his dreams, nightmares, but no brutality, gore.


Occasional use of British slang, but nothing overtly offensive, vulgar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dream is a downloadable first-person exploration adventure game. The bulk of the game takes place in the dreamscape of the main character, Howard, leaving the player to uncover clues to the story while Howard works to decipher the meaning of his unusual dreams. From time to time, the player comes under attack from mysterious smoky creatures, turning the dreams into nightmares, though the violence is mild and without any brutality or gore. The stages representing Howard's nightmares can be a bit creepy and foreboding, possibly a bit too scary for younger players.

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What's it about?

DREAM is the story of Howard Phillips. More specifically, it's the story of Howard Phillips' mind and of his subconscious. Wandering through his life and his dreams, players must unlock mental obstacles and work through his nightmares to help Howard recognize his inner self while the player uncovers pieces from his past. As you maneuvere through dreams and nightmares, the ultimate goal is for both Howard and the player to gain peace of mind by pulling together pieces of his mind.

Is it any good?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you wake up from a deep sleep with an overwhelming feeling of confusion, trying your hardest to make sense of the dream you were just having? That feeling pretty much sums up Dream. The game is an oddly disjointed, abstract mess with no real direction. On the upside, it's a gorgeous-looking abstract mess with a fantastically haunting score. It's not exaggeration to say that Dream is one of the best-looking and -sounding indie games in recent memory. If only the gameplay measured up to the presentation.

One of the game's selling points is its nonlinear story and gameplay. The problem with this is it basically leaves the player stranded, akin to dumping him or her blindfolded in a desert with no compass and saying, "Figure it out." You'll spend most of your time wandering aimlessly and hoping the cursor happens to run across something to interact with. Even when you do find something, there's usually no indication as to whether or not what you've found has any real relevance to the overall story. Since the game doesn't follow any specific time line, even when you do come across something relevant, you'll have to figure out where (and when) it fits into the tapestry of Howard's mind. As in many real-life dreams, Dream is an experience whose concept is hard to grasp and harder to remember.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dreams and nightmares. How do dreams, good and bad, affect you when you're awake?

  • How important is it to understand the meaning behind our dreams, and how would we go about decrypting the mystery of our dreams?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $16.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Mastertronic
  • Release date: July 31, 2015
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
  • Last updated: December 13, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love exploration

Themes & Topics

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