Alternate history games have always had their place in the gaming scene. A lot of different scenarios have been explored through them. One of the most attractive ones is the Soviet Union Era Russia, a trend that is further established through Aist’s game, DreamBreak.
DreamBreak takes place in a post Cold War Soviet Union. Industry is apparently booming, with futuristic cars roaming the streets and flashy billboards everywhere. However, everything is not what it seems, as our character, Eugene, will soon find out. Although he works a lowly bar job, he is soon framed for murder and forced to face off against organizations such as the CIA. Conspiracies and danger abounds, and it is up to us to save ourselves and solve the mystery.
DreamBreak is a point and click adventure game, which means the only thing we have to use to play is our mouse. The game is split into many different scenes, each of which requires some action in ordered to be cleared. Generally, this action is pretty clear, since the game avoids leaving many open-ended scenarios for us. Instead, there is usually only one thing we can do. While this is not necessarily bad, I think in this instance it does hurt the game, since it takes away something very integral to adventure games: Exploration. Having the game lead me to one path and blocking all others through random excuses certainly takes away some of the fun, even if it does make the game go faster. However, one cannot say that the actions we will be carrying out are not varied and interesting. We will engage in shootouts with the police, various spy-like activities and even clean a toilet. Moreover, the game offers more that one ending, which means you will be able to get quite a lot of time out of it.
Apart from the gameplay, the game’s strong suit is certainly its graphics, music and atmosphere. At a first glance, the artstyle looks like any other futuristic pixel art game. If you look closer though, you will find out that the game has its own, distinct, almost Cyrillic style that makes you think “I’m in Russia”. The game’s music, although not as great as it could be, also plays a part in reinforcing this feeling. Last but not least, the way the game builds up its world apart from the “It’s a post Cold War CCCP” premise is extremely good. While other games are up in your face with information about the world spouted by every random NPC in the game, DreamBreak mostly relies on unobtrusive things such as newspapers and television announcements to give us a bit more background into the world. That way, people more interested in the setting can spend as much time as they want looking for more clues as to what world Eugene lives in while others who are more interested in the gameplay can avoid having to talk to everybody. Personally, I found the game’s world very interesting and perhaps even more compelling than the gameplay itself. It reminded me a lot of books like 1984.
Many of you are probably confused as to why I liked the story and the world better than the gameplay. The main reason for that is the many bugs that the game currently has. Controlling Eugene is often a tedious task, since there are many times where he doesn’t respond to our command or doesn’t respond properly. As you ccan easily understand, this leads to a lot of frustration, especially when a bug is all that stands between me and a tough sequence.
Despite this problem however, DreamBreak is still a very decent game. Most of the bugs are currently being patched, which means that soon players will have a much more stable game on their hands. Apart from that, the game’s Soviet Union is, at least for me, a very appealing aspect of the game. Although it is not enough to make it a fantastic game, the above manage to justify DreamBreak’s price and make it a game to look out for, especially on Steam Sales.
You can find DreamBreak on Steam for 7 euros.
DreamBreak offers an immersive story presented in an excellent way. Despite that however, the game’s bugs and the way it presents us with such a limited range of actions in each scene take much away from our experience, diminishing the game’s impact by quite a bit.
+The game’s story and world.
–Linear story with limited choices for our actions.
–Quite a few bugs.
-Philip “Snowchill” Alexandris