Ah, the early 1930’s. It was a time of financial turmoil, Art Deco design, the Prohibition, and cursed treasures being stolen. Alright, maybe that last point wasn’t exceedingly common (or existed) but who doesn’t love a fun setting such as that for an adventure game? Here we have Dream Chamber, a little point-and-click adventure that takes place in the above time period where Charlie Chamber is a novice private investigator with a photographic memory and a penchant for being lazy and uninterested in most subjects.
The story starts out like any other person would have experienced in the 1930’s – being dressed up in the finest tux possible and being driven by your own chauffer to a museum gala that you’ve donated loads of money to. Our player character Charlie isn’t terribly fond of such events, and is loath to do anything related to mingling, except to a sultry red head in a white dress. After some friendly conversation and creative drink mixing, the museum’s curator comes in saying that there has been a robbery. Charlie, being an amateur private detective, sees excitement in following such as a case, and here we get into Dream Chamber proper.
One of Charlie’s greatest skills is a photographic memory, a skill that can unfortunately be accessed while he is asleep. While he is asleep, he can also head to his subconscious in his bedroom where his alter-ego/assistant Charles can provide additional help and wisdom. Oddly, Charles doesn’t provide as much help and wisdom as a subconscious alter-ego.
Throughout your investigation you’ll have several different locations to explore and find clues and talk to other characters. The point-and-click system is incredibly simple and easy to use while interacting with the scenery – click on something to check it out/pick it up/use it, and move your mouse to the top of the screen to check your inventory to use or combine items. There aren’t any real hints as to what objects can be interacted with or picked up as items. While this can garner the player to really observe the area for clues, or think up combinations of items, adventure game logic may not be as obvious for some. Did you know that a napkin ring functions as a device to secure broken pieces of a trident together to move a giant crate? There is also the issue of using Charlie’s photographic memory – namely you have to return to your bedroom, go to sleep, then revisit the location to check out clues. It’s a bit tiring to go back and forth often if you’re trying to find additional information or clues, but sometimes Charlie will drop hints when to use his skill if you’re stuck.
Speaking of dialog, the voice acting is well-done in some of the character’s voices, and others just feel phoned in or B-movie quality. The interaction dialog is engaging however as it plays its part in the events of the plot. In fact, in between traveling to locations, Charlie and his driver have a choice to discuss a subject of news that occurred around the early 1930’s time period to help remind the player of how much things have changed. It’s a fun piece of historical education but unfortunately it gets repetitive fast; luckily there is the option to “step on it” and skip talking all together in between the travels.
Along with the voice acting there is a conversation mini-game that occurs for each major conversation. Since Charlie himself is easily bored and prone to daydreaming, it’s only appropriate that he imagines his conversations as himself firing catapults at a castle representing the other person in conversation. The goal of these conversations is to knock down the castle enough to a certain point to “defeat” his opponent to get the right answer out of them. What it takes is the correct question to ask and the right place to aim the catapult. Unfortunately there’s no variation in the answers a person replies with no matter which question Charlie asks – it’s tough to gauge if it’s the right question to ask. It basically all boils down to trial-and-error along with making sure to hit points on the castle to knock out the pieces. It can wear you down a bit as you try to get the right combo but luckily this doesn’t come up exceedingly often.
There are a few other mini-games in Dream Chamber to keep you on your toes. You’ll see some standard affair types such as unlocking locks, torn sheets of paper, slide puzzles, and a down-right frustrating stealth mini-game that thankfully only occurs once ever. Nothing like keeping an eye on three separate things at once to frustrate you!
Don’t let the frustrating puzzles and conversation mini-games wear on you too much. Dream Chamber does have some well-done hand-drawn art work that brings the 1930’s and Art Deco design together nicely. Each character was genuinely unique in design, even the non-talking characters. Combined with the jazzy soundtrack playing in the background the overall visual/auditory experience was great.
The overall length of Dream Chamber isn’t very long – it doesn’t overstay its welcome but isn’t short enough to feel like the plot was rushed. Although the ending itself is lending itself towards a sequel, there hasn’t been one announced or mentioned yet. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes considering the shocking twist ending that had me hooked.
All in all Dream Chamber is a fun adventure that is a bit rough around the edges but with its short length, 1930s imagery and jazz music, challenging puzzles and semi-fun/serious plot it’s worth checking out.
+ Fun - Worth checking out.
+ Overall visual and auditory experience was great.
- A bit rough around the edges.