Welcome to the story of a little girl with a big lonely problem. The protagonist is the last human on planet Earth, kept as a trophy after the annihilation of the entire species. Many thousands of years ago a bunch of aliens invaded, destroyed us all, stole our planet and kept this small child alive in a stasis chamber. Now she has been set free and tasked to find her way to the Earth’s core in a dangerous and mysterious mission.
Daydreamer: Awakened Edition is a 2D platform shooter with an old-school feel. The platforming element can sometimes be a bit shaky. Basic jumps are reasonably accurate with young Missy (you can name her whatever you want) grabbing onto ledges automatically and pulling herself up, but here and there jumping and traversing can be frustrating. The checkpoints, for example, are particularly aggravating. Drop down into them to save your progress lest you want to start the level all over again, but you just try getting back out. There was a lift I couldn’t get on because I couldn’t see it adequately and a ledge that I couldn’t quite grab. I am neither blind nor cack-handed, but I’ll happily admit that I lack the patience for precise/blind jumping and climbing just to get out of checkpoints again and again.
Environments contain the expected quantities of platforms, lifts, holes and obstacles and Missy herself can jump, run and crouch. On a basic level, it’s all a bit been-there-done-that. However, Missy does have a few tricks up her sleeve. She can create a bubble shield around her, she can deflect and, best of all, she can warp, which is great for escaping or for some tactical moves against the stronger enemies.
A tutorial will guide you through the first level, teaching you the basics of combat and introducing the concept of summing pets (creatures to temporarily aid you) and weapons. Missy is pretty good at close combat melee attacks which are perfect for the smaller foes, and her wonder woman spin and sliding slash are good fun. If you’re going to get anywhere fast, however, you’ll need something a bit more long range and a bit more ouchy. Missy can pick up and equip various gun types on her travels. Among them is a standard rattatattat gun, a weapon that attacks the nearest enemies with continuous fire, and a precision targeting gun. Unfortunately this is where we start to run into a few problems. Ammo is in short supply, which kinda takes the fun out of a shooter and there is the added problem of targeting off-screen enemies such as the UFO. You know it’s there, right above you and rapidly dropping your health, but even though it can hit you, hitting it back can be an issue. If you have the targeting gun equipped, blindly firing isn’t going to work and even when you can see part of the enemy it won’t always lock on. The mechanic for this could definitely use some work as locking on can be clumsy and just a few seconds too time consuming even when it does work.
The graphics are fine and suit the 90’s feel. There’s a level with a weirdly twisted suburbia with smiley colourful clouds and huge round hillocks. It would be sort of sweet if it didn’t also feel quite twisted. This is something the game does very well. From beginning to end, it’s creepy. The atmosphere, the environments, the horrible alien creatures – it never crosses into truly disturbing territory, but the whole game has a very nightmarish feel to it. It’s a little girl’s bad dream.
The game is split into levels with a boss waiting at the end of each one. It’s a simple format that is nice to occasionally see and it works well with some interesting and challenging bosses. Missy has enough weapons, warps and moves to make each boss fight interesting, and in a way they do drive the game forward. While the game’s platforming and combat quirks mean that getting through the levels will often involve some gritted teeth and potty mouth, the bosses are a lot more fun.
Daydreamer: Awakened Edition is a surreal and nicely old-fashioned experience. Despite the shaky platforming and combat, this is an okay little game offered for a reasonable price. There’s nothing exceptional or exciting here, but if you’re looking to kill a few hours and slaughter a few perverse aliens, you’re in the right dystopia.
S J Hollis Rating 6/10