1994 Creative Reality
Designed by Neil Dodwell
Reviewed 2004 July 9

Rating -5 Linearity narrow, segmented
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity high
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned simple Real-time minor

Seven evil people are threatening the intergrity of the Dreamweb, a mystical thingamabob that maintains the integrity of existence (or something like that). The seven guardians of the Dreamweb have chosen you to hunt down and kill the baddies. This all takes place in a near-future world where pollution has wreaked havoc on the weather and nuclear armageddon is threatening once again.

You play a loser, a bartender who can't get his life on track. This is because of bad dreams and blackouts caused by the guardians, their way of preparing you for the task. There aren't any prominent characters, but the few you have to deal with are effectively, if briefly, portrayed.

The world is interesting, owing a lot to Blade Runner; the music reinforces this tie. It's not dystopic, but things are heading downhill. Unfortunately, the game doesn't provide much of a plot, no focus to explore this world. You are simply given the location of the various targets, then you break in and kill them.

The challenges are similarly mundane. Most are obvious lock and key problems: lock codes, keycards, and passwords. There are a few timed sequences when dealing with guards and killing the bad guys. You have to be prompt, but it's not difficult if you know what to do. You can die in these, and in other places, and there's no auto-restore, so save often.

The only serious challenge of the game is pixel and object hunting. There are hundreds of objects in the game, but only a score or so are needed for play. With the low resolution graphics, many of these objects are only a few pixels across. You have to scour each location, and then investigate each object. Some have to be picked up and used to reveal interesting properties. Your inventory is limited so you can't just pick them all up. The problem with all these objects is that for any problem there are probably several objects that could reasonably be used, but only one (or a few) are blessed by the authors. It's not too onerous through, since you can usually see which objects are not likely to be useful (there's many of them lying around), and you can always go back to get the object when you discover where it's likely needed.

Dreamweb uses an unusual (for adventure) top-down view of the world. I didn't care for it, but it didn't cause any problems, either. The main world view, however, only covered the middle third of screen. Most of the screen real estate was wasted, and a large area was used for a static picture of your character, which was (in effect) the inventory access button. Since it's only VGA to begin with, the result is heavily pixelated.

Inventory use is unusual, and I found it awkward. Rather than click an item on an environmental object, you examine the object, then select "use" from the examination window, then select an item from the inventory. Except sometimes you are supposed to select the item in your inventory and use it there, and it interacts with the appropriate environmental object, which was sometimes the one I intended.

There are only seven save slots.

Subtitles are present during most player-initiated dialogue, but absent during cut-scenes. I found this a big problem in the final confrontation, with the bad guy's dialogue drowned out by the music, and no subtitles. Normal investigation (e.g., examining objects) is presented only in text, no speech, which is how they're able to have so many objects.

Dreamweb has a good ambience, but falls short in too many other ways to be worth a recommendation. It's not a terrible game, but there are more better adventures out there than you'll ever have time to complete.

Note: Dreamweb has some very gory scenes, and some nudity and sex. It's not for the kiddies.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.