A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Although appearances, motives may appear sinister, reminds you to hear people out before rendering judgment.
Positive Role Models
Protagonist aspires to be a good tenant, husband, citizen amid some very extreme drama, trauma around him.
Ease of Play
Some puzzles are much, much harder than others; sometimes game is buggy.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that THE DREAM MACHINE is a downloadable point-and-click adventure game that's a throwback to older games in the genre. This means you control a protagonist by clicking around the landscape, having him tell you about what he sees, and then picking up items and realizing how you need to repurpose them in different contexts around the environment to progress through the story. It's a story-driven game, which means there's a lot of talking and listening to other people in the world, and what you should be doing next is not always spelled out for you. Given that, only patient and curious players need apply.
Is It Any Good?
This will be a tough sell for most younger kids and likely not appropriate anyway, but older teens and adults will likely appreciate the foreboding pace and patient meticulousness this game requires. Unlike other adventure games, this game doesn't bother with lots of screens and lots of items for you to scoop up, collect, and puzzle over. Instead, it goes the opposite way, with only a handful of places per chapter and only a few items. Then it's exceedingly coy -- in a good way -- about letting you discover what you must do. Without giving much away (and this really isn't, since much of the game takes place in people's dreams): A neat discovery comes in a later chapter when you realize the items you've been using the entire chapter also double as parts of internal organs you need to process and understand human communication. It's a nice little epiphany that the game does not beat you over the head with; rather it leaves you to drag yourself to realize it and then be excited -- as most great adventure games do.
That said, there are some hiccups, though all are largely technical and minor. The game freezes frequently without a real pattern to it. Sometimes the character gets stuck in certain spots in the world without a real reason, with it being very difficult to get him out of an elevator or to trigger the call buttons in the elevator to appear on-screen. Other times, there are no problems at all, though these things crop up with such inconsistency that it bears mentioning here. It shouldn't be a deterrent but something to definitely be aware of. It's not the most conventional adventure game, but The Dream Machine will definitely keep the attention of puzzle- and mystery-minded players looking to unravel its secrets.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.