“Who will be the first?”- Ryan
- Platform- DOS (version tested), Amiga
- Developer- Creative Reality
- Publisher- Empire
- Release date-1992
Hi all, Retroplayer here.
This week I thought I’d really go retro with my review. This one brings us all the way back to 1992, when Eric Clapton had a number one hit with “Tears in Heaven”, Aladdin was yet another Disney smash-hit, and I was only 7 years old. By the way, if you’d like to suggest a game, modern or retro, for me to review, be sure to drop me an email at Denis (at) TheGamingLiberty.com. Of course, replace (at) with @. It just helps cut down on spam when I publicly write it that way. Feel free to fire me off an email just about anything, really!
Developed by Creative Reality and published by Empire in 1992, Dreamweb is like a bizarre mix of Blade Runner and Highlander. It combines an excellent cyberpunk setting with fantasy elements. You play the role of Ryan, an average guy whose boring life is turned upside-down. Ryan’s nights are plagued by nightmares, as an unseen force is seemingly starting to meddle with thoughts. One night while sleeping, Ryan meets a mysterious monk from a group known as the “Keepers”. The monk tells Ryan that he is the “deliverer”, and must kill seven evil individuals on Earth who threaten the Dreamweb, a metaphysical element of the Keepers reality that balances good and evil here on Earth. The Keepers show Ryan that without the Dreamweb Earth is doomed. Upon waking up Ryan understands that he must track down and kill these seven individuals that threaten the very future of the human race.
To find these seven targets, Ryan will need to do some detective work in the form of talking to NPCs, using his Network Monitor to find information, picking up certain important quest items, and solving some basic puzzles. The game basically focuses on you finding and killing these seven people. It never deviates from the main quest.
Dreamweb is a top-down point-and-click adventure. While a top-down view isn’t what I’m used to when playing point-and-click titles, I found it to be a great way to truly explore and survey the play area. Additionally, there’s a separate, smaller window at the bottom left of the screen which serves as a zoomed in version of whatever your cursor is pointing at. This makes searching for items and objects far easier, while also giving the player a better look at the graphics themselves. Almost any item can be picked up from important story advancing items such as the Key, to other, completely useless items like a toothbrush. The sheer number of items that can be picked up only adds a great sense of interactivity and atmosphere to Dreamweb. Furthermore, almost anything can be clicked on and investigated. Whether it’s a homeless man drunk and laying next to a bar, to a simple dingy lamp in the corner of a room, Ryan has something to say about it. It’s these little additions that make exploring Dreamweb’s numerous locations a true joy. The only downside is that while the opening city locations are populated and interesting, the latter areas in the game suffer from a lack of NPCs. While the city apartments, pub, and TV station feel more like living, breathing environments, the Church, boathouse and catacombs feel rather empty and lifeless. The game doesn’t completely run out of steam though, but focusing more of the game in the actual city itself, and in turn interacting with more NPCs, would have been wonderful. It’s clearly the games strongest suit.
The atmosphere in Dreamweb is fantastic. Sure, it’s not ground-breaking even for a game out in 1992, but it looks and feels very impressive. The city is dark, dank, filthy, and claustrophobic. Rain constantly beats down outside, in Sparkys bar drunks lay slumped across tables, while inside Ryans apartment the Network Monitor is your source of news beyond the four walls of the game. Again, much like the graphics and overall atmosphere, the Network Monitor breathes life into the world in the form of news bulletins and emails. While it’s underused somewhat, the player can input a number of Network Cartridges to read different emails, messages, and news. Sometimes the news directly leads you to your next target, while other times it reports on a murder you recently committed.
The sound design and music in Dreamweb is truly exceptional. Composed by Matt Sheldon, the music perfectly fits in with the cyber-punk setting of the game. Thankfully, the soundtrack isn’t shoved down the players throat, and happily resides simply as a tool to evoke a greater sense of depth.
Perhaps one of Dreamwebs best aspects is the fact that it leaves doubt in the players mind that what Ryan is experiencing is something more than just insanity. It’s not a spoiler to say that it never fully addresses this, neither does it shoot down either of these theories. Bundled along with Dreamweb is some of Ryans writings called Diary of a Madman. This peek into Ryans state of mind may add a new spin to the game for players that are eager to gain the full Dreamweb experience. Is Ryan really killing people who threaten our very world ? Or is he simply a cold blooded killer, drunk on deluded visions of grandeur? Creative Reality leave that door open nicely for the player to ponder that.
Overall, Dreamweb is great game. While it’ll only take you at most two hours to finish it, it’s well worth the effort. It provides the player with a compelling story, atmospheric cyber-punk locations, and a refreshing experience that is violent, intriguing and mature; each murder you commit in the game is rather graphic. If you’re looking for one of those games that just suck you right in, Dreamweb is the game for you. Yes, with more of an emphasis on talking to NPCs and the city where Ryan lives, it could have been an impeccable experience, but as it is it’s top-class entertainment. Check it out.