Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Reverie: an Odd Sim Date

Author: Amiralo
Availability: Free, Online
Format: Dating Sim
Rating: Teen

My Scores (out of 5):

Writing: 3.5
Art: 3
Gameplay: 2
Romance: 2.5 (Just one actual pairing, but darn it, I got misty-eyed)


In Reverie, you are Asuka, a high-school girl with so many problems at home that escaping into a dreamland seems like a good idea. However, once you find yourself *in* said dreamland, you decide you really ought to be heading home. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of this place are anything but helpful.


The Writing

The English in this game is rife with grammatical errors and typos, which makes reading it a little bit of a chore. Speaking of difficulty in reading, there was also a struck-out passage in the intro which I just about went bonkers trying to decipher. Fortunately, the text is revealed in the end, although I still think its mysterious, taunting presence is some form of cruelty.

At first, I thought the story was just going in the direction of obvious wish-fulfillment for the player: you wake up in a fancy castle, are told you're the most important person in it, and some rich guy wants to shower you with attention and presents. However, it turns out to be much deeper than that: these things are really wish-fulfillment for the *character*, and not everything is as nice as it appears to be. The story is almost as dark and depressing as Saccharine, with themes of persevering in the face of disappointment and disillusionment.

The Art

The quality of the art varies. When we first see Asuka in her new bedroom, the detail and cool palette were so lovely that I was quite caught off-guard. However, this level of artwork isn't maintained throughout the entire game, and I was frankly disappointed in the “serene place” to which the duke takes Asuka. Backgrounds aside, props must be given to the creatively surreal character designs of Joker and the nightmare monster, whose appearances are not merely strange, but highlight the unreality of the place.

The Gameplay

Argh. Where do I begin? Well, the good news, first: The game doesn't appear to have any critical glitches, save for a suspicious moment when I could have sworn that Joker gave me a knife, yet my attempts at attacking the day-10 monster immediately afterward resulted in the message that I “tried to attack it bare-handed.” Oh, yes, you can be attacked by monsters in this game, and while the shopkeeper NPC states that you can't actually die, the effect is still the same.  Also, the "play music" button causes the soundtrack to irritatingly overlap itself if pressed more than once, but that slight problem is both easily solved and easily ignored.

The main thing that bothers me about the gameplay is that the game itself tries to discourage you from exploring (characters tell you not to, monsters attack if you enter the wrong rooms, and then after you die, the game chides you for wandering around), yet exploring is absolutely necessary. There is no map in the game; there are no indications of what a given door could lead to, and there is nothing that can be done in the bedroom except sleeping and checking the inventory.  The danger, while potentially interesting, is handled very unfairly, especially since once you've accidentally stumbled across a monster, you have virtually zero chance of escaping unless you had the good fortune to stumble across the shopkeeper first and stock up on items. It isn't even possible to back out of a monster's room once you've realized where you are: you can only go forward, wincing even as you push the button because you know this thing will want chocolate and you only have the roses and WHY IS NAVIGATING THIS PLACE SO HARD?!

The other major complaint I have has to do with the help document. Many games include such a thing, and that is fine...provided it's easily accessible at the beginning of the game. This game's help document can only be found if you stumble into the right room, despite the fact that the game itself apparently doesn't want you to explore. Once found, it tells you that there is a specific, recommended order to courting the guys, and it gives you *vital* information regarding their endings. So, good thing you explored after all, I guess.

Despite these major flaws, the game isn't actually unplayable. Still, you will need a good memory for navigating all those doors, and there's a non-zero chance that you'll have to completely start over when you were just within inches of victory. It's beatable, but also frustrating at times.


Reverie is a dark, tricky game with spotty English that, nevertheless, tells a decent story. It has a lot of interesting ideas, some of which could have probably been executed better, and it's worth checking out if you can put up with a few head-desk inducing game-over situations.  

As usual, this is merely one girl's opinion.  You might think this the game of your dreams, or a nightmarish monstrosity.  Feel free to let your mind wander in the comments.

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