You’re awake. Standing in a dirty room, and dressed in unfamiliar clothes. You know that you went to sleep seeking this unusual place, trying to find out what it all means. But still, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re awake, and something isn’t right.
Right off the bat, Afterdream‘s atmospheric pixels make me feel like I do not want anything to do with this place. I walk from one side of the room to the other very reluctantly, interacting with drawers, a basket, a dirty toilet, and various mundane objects that the art style lends an ominous energy.
An oven lies broken and latched with a tell-tale set of numbered dials. While I know I need to come up with the right combination to solve this puzzle, I have no idea what numbers to pick. So, I move on to the bathroom; the kind you hope never to have to use. Inside, the game offers me the option to pick up a towel. Another clue. And, unfortunately, I have an bad feeling about what I’ll have to do with it.
The next hurdle is a locked drawer, which gives me a chance to try out the lockpicking mechanic. The process works like a minigame where my slow determined movements in the right direction eventually net me the prize. It’s a good variation on normal lockpick mechanics. My preciseness matters and it leaves me feeling rewarded rather than frustrated.
Inside the once-locked compartment is a camera. That’s right ya’ll! Things just got Fatal Framey in here. Activating the camera opens up interesting possibilities. A helpful focus effect lets you know when to snap a picture, and things appear that weren’t there before. I love it. But then the lights cut out and I have to use my flash to light my way and I’m not loving anything anymore.
If repeating “oh hell no” to yourself whenever you enter a room sounds like fun, Afterdream has a demo up right now on Steam. The full game is set to release March 2023, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it through my fingers. But there are a plenty more demos still up from Steam’s celebration last week in case you didn’t get your fill.
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