I Spy with My Little Eye, Dream Detective
Century Game’s Dream Detective is one of those apps a person can lose themselves in. Similar to when one opens a bag of chips and doesn’t realize how much they’ve eaten until they reach inside only to find seasoned crumbs. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a mindless game. The levels require attention if you hope to achieve anything, but it definitely lies in the realm of casual gaming.
The story is set in the Realm of Dreams, an otherworld powered by something called the Time Crystal. This crystal is almost stolen by a mysterious evil, but the dream civilians banded together to stop him and all was well. Until the precious Time Crystal is shattered to pieces by unknown thieves. As a side note, Detective Allie unexpectedly found herself in Dream Land on a Tuesday afternoon after falling asleep on her couch. She finds The Realm of Dreams in complete chaos and takes it upon herself to restore what has been lost.
Sadly, despite the intriguing tale and the beautiful scrolling art, the story doesn’t jump back into the forefront of the game after the first level. The only part of the actual gameplay that seems to connect with the storyline is the castle that is in ruins and that the player can fix up with the money earned by completing levels. Truthfully, that is a real shame. I was looking forward to a crazy dream adventure.
Dream Detective has two types of levels. One is filled with characters and functions more like an I Spy book, where you have to find ten items and each object provides a clue as to where it might be. Sometimes these clues are very helpful, other times they are just descriptions of the object itself. These levels are my favorite. Each level is based around a category of some kind. Whether that category was football or Studio Ghibli movies. It was fun to see all these references to the things that I love. It really made me feel like I was playing in a dream world. The level of detail is hard to believe.
The other type of level is more of a timed spot the difference. These are harder since there are a bunch of the same objects in one space, such as pumpkin heads, and your job is to locate the one that is smiling with a top hat. Both levels have three stages of difficulty.
There are also bonus levels that allow a player to compete against other players. These take the timed trials and add a fun theme. My favorite is the Endless Recycle World. Instead of giving me specific items to find and gather, I get categories such as wet garbage or harmful garbage. Seeing as this is a game for all age groups, this bonus level does a good job both entertaining and teaching players how to separate their trash.
That’s not the only level that strives to teach their players something. There is also The Crossroads of Life World that teaches players how the emotions on people’s faces can be hiding something else underneath. There’s even a brief note at the end of the level that discusses depression and allows you to share the note to your social media. It’s small enough that it doesn’t shove the gamers out of the game, but it still provides a dose of truth for those that want to learn.
Drawing vs. Music
Dream Detective is a beautiful game that relies on player investigation and memory. The art is whimsical and detailed and hints at a hand-drawn style. There are levels that blow my mind with how many wonderful details can be spotted. It’s a never-ending list of movie references and goofy characters. The music, however, could use some work. At first, the theme of dreams and adventure is captured perfectly in the slightly eerie song, but then it starts to repeat itself, again and again, and again. It grates on you after a while and eventually turning it off becomes more a matter of sanity than anything else.
The Ugly Side
Outside of the game levels, there are options to decorate both your avatar and the dream castle that your character has stumbled upon. Your avatar has many choices when it comes to clothes, hats, and side objects that range from a backpack to a pet. The Castle is unlocked room by room and has a few options for each category of furniture. Sadly, you can’t choose where your couch sits, but you can decide if it’s a leather bag of fluff or a nice wooden love seat.
Dream Detective is free with in-app purchases, but the things you can buy with your real green stuff is just the deletion of ads. The ads are everywhere. I’m not kidding! Do you want a hint to where to find the mermaid? You have to watch an ad. Do you want to unlock a new hairdo? You have to watch an ad before you can spend your game money. Do you want more precious seconds in the timed trials? Well, you’ll probably get stuck watching five ads before you find that last object.
Overall, Dream Detective is simple and beautiful to look at. It has some annoyances and it isn’t all that the app store describes it to be, but I don’t regret spending hours playing through the levels.
Is it Hardcore?
Explore the strange and warped world of Dreamland while developing a keen eye and creating your dream castle.