Sawbuck Gamer

Dream Weaver

Discoverie captures the best and worst parts of a recurring dream.

By Anthony John Agnello • August 28, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

Dreams are boring for everyone but the dreamer. No one wants to hear about how crazy it was that I was a giant bowl of cereal in my dad’s house, but it totally wasn’t my dad’s house. In that context, “dreamlike” is the most effective way to describe Matthew Hall and Ben Weatherall’s mesmeric game Discoverie. It’s as mind-numbing as the usual REM-cycle adventures when described but equally enrapturing in practice.

The experience always starts in a pink hallway, populated by slightly pinker octopuses. They beep and stare at me when I walk by. I want to communicate with them somehow, but all I have is a crossbow. I can shoot them, but then they puke on me and take away one of my few, precious hearts. The low light, Minecraft-style blocky art, and ambient music make it all the more surreal. The pink halls give way to purple halls full of mushrooms. Then there are ice halls full of penguins, smiley faces, and traffic cones. Everything beyond the pink halls tries to kill me, so I have to keep moving.

In Discoverie, panic gives way to curiosity, and that uneasy feeling is a driving force, pushing you to venture forward and see what else the strange halls had to offer. But death comes quickly—six hits and it’s game over. Attempting to learn the game’s layout and create a plan for survival won’t work, as Discoverie’s halls are different every time you fire it up. Just like a recurring dream, its motifs repeat but its specifics are malleable. Being scared and interested are the game’s biggest, most welcome rewards. It makes me want to talk about it, no matter how dull it might sound to others.

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8 Responses to “Dream Weaver”

  1. boardgameguy says:

    I really didn’t want to shoot the penguins, but they kept hurting me.

  2. Effigy_Power says:

    Just FYI, this is what every page on Gameological, including front-page, looks like for me right now:
    That’s odd, right? I am not just imagining it? It’s an odd thing.

  3. Knarf Black says:

    Pro Tip: Some of the paintings really dislike being shot.

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