Title: Yume Nikki
Release Date: JP December, 00. English translation released in October, 2007
Publisher (Developer): Kiriyama (Kiriyama)
ESRB Rating: N/A – I’d recommend it for ages 15 and up.
Pros: Unique premise, art style and gameplay. Lots of effects to equip. Can wake up and return to reality at any time.
Cons: Very slow, it is easy to get lost and some effects/events are hard to find.
Overall Score: One thumb up, one sideways; 85/100; B; * * * 1/2 out of 5
Have you ever picked up one of those dream dictionaries? Or maybe you’ve wondered what ties the dream world has to your daily life? Yume Nikki gives players the chance to explore dreams, many disturbing. It doesn’t offer any answers, or any explanations, but offers plenty of material for questions and personal analysis.
“Be careful what you water your dreams with.” – Lao Tzu
Yume Nikki translates into dream diary, which is a fairly accurate description of what players will be doing. The star is Madotsuki, a young shut-in/hikikomori. She’s trapped in her single room apartment, and all she can do is play one video game, go out on her terrace, write in her dream diary (save) or sleep.
It’s when Madotsuki sleeps that things get interesting. Once in bed, she falls asleep almost instantly and awakes in what appears to be a mirror image of her home. Only this time, the door leads to a room with 12 other doors. Each door leads to another part of the dream world. Her goal is to journey through every location to try and find 24 effects that either change Madotsuki’s appearance or give her special abilities.
“Life is never easy for those who dream.” – Robert James Waller
Yume Nikki succeeds in recreating the dream world experience. As Madotsuki travels through one door or portal to the next, there’s little to no continuity. The effects she collects can drastically change her appearance or give her abilities, or they can do absolutely nothing. Unusual people, sights and environments show up. Most importantly, you can wake up at any time. You’ll probably need to, as some dream areas have no exits.
This means that the game is also quite long, winding and confusing. Areas can loop, so you can end up walking in circles without even realizing it. A door from area A leads may lead to area B, but going through that door from area B may not lead you back to area A. It’s also very random, and you’ll never know when certain events will trigger that will allow you to see different things or access different areas. Since some areas will have no landmarks, finding effects can be incredibly difficult.
The first time you play, try go in knowing nothing. Just start playing and exploring. Then, after you’ve gotten frustrated or annoyed at the experience, go find a walkthrough. Chances are, unless you’re incredibly patient with loads of free time, you won’t find your way through the game without one.
“To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind.” – Bernard Edmonds
Yume Nikki isn’t a game for everyone. It often contains dark or graphic imagery and can be quite unsettling. It also requires a certain level of commitment and amount of patience if someone wants to collect all 24 effects and complete the game. On top of that, the ending may leave some players feeling disappointed. I know I was.
It is something worth experiencing. Especially if you love horror games and some spare time. As long as you don’t mind repetitive experiences and endless searching, you should find something to like about Yume Nikki. Since Yume Nikki is a freeware, indie game, you should have no trouble finding a copy to download with Google’s assistance.