The Nintendo Switch is fast becoming the go-to platform for indie horror gaming. With now beloved games like Little Nightmares and, more recently, Inside, sailing onto the Switch like they’d belonged there all along, developers who would previously debut their latest games on platforms like Steam are now building games that can come to the Switch on their launch date.
Publisher Fat Dog Games was one such company, releasing its latest game, Dream Alone, on both platforms. The game emulates a lot of the biggest recent indie horror hits. A 2D side-scroller, it immediately draws you into the darkness of its world with its misty monochrome art style.
The game opens with a short backstory introducing you to the main character – a young boy with a Tim Burton-esque look to him whose entire community has succumbed to a mysterious disease that has rendered them comatose. You play as the boy in search of Lady Death, a supernatural character rumoured to be able to revive those affected.
To reach her, you must go on an arduous journey, in which you’ll have to navigate perilous traps and monsters that can kill you with a single touch. You have to make use of a lot of the usual side-scroller techniques, such as jumping over things and pushing blocks to climb on, as well as using your environment to solve puzzles in order to get from one stage to the next.
In Dream Alone, you also have to make use of supernatural powers that you gain each time you drink from glowing white bottles you find lying around. These give you the ability to create a doppelgänger, slow time and jump into an alternate reality that is no less terrifying that the first.
This makes you really think about how to approach each puzzle. While a number of the earlier problems you face are simple enough to get by, you soon have to get creative in your thinking if you want to stay alive.
From the very beginning, the game is intensely atmospheric. Its foggy setting makes you squint through the long grass for traps and tricks, making you feel as if you really are wading through a thick, choking mist, but without being so irritating as to strain your eyes. It makes you pay attention to every tiny sound or movement in your surroundings.
The aesthetic of the other dimension is just as brutal, but with a violent red hue and a background littered with skewered corpses and monsters that claw at you from a fiery distance.
Should you fall prey to one of the many threats that plague you throughout Dream Alone, your death is gruesome and explosive. A shockingly bright splatter of blood covers the screen as your body is split into pieces and your head rolls away.
Dream Alone doesn’t have the mysterious plot that you piece together over the course of many levels that made its predecessors, like Little Nightmares and Inside, so successful. However, it has plenty of creepily charming aesthetics and interesting gameplay to make it well worth the £10 it costs.