Dreams are a weird and wonderful thing. Some of us never remember where our subconscious takes us, and others are lucky to remember each beautiful or horrific moment. Have you ever wondered what happens to the wasted dreams, the ones that have never been seen? This is the narrative of Onirike. It’s a bizarre and creepy title that is both chilling and heartwarming.
Developed by Devilish Games, Spherical Pixel S L and BadLand Publishing and published by the latter two, this is a 3D platformer with a puzzle twist. Set in a surreal landscape, you control a strange creature. He wants to discover the truth about his existence, all while helping the residents of their home called the Orb.
Onirike is extremely unusual.
When a developer uses dreams as their core concept, there is always a risk it will be unusual. Onirike takes every opportunity to push the envelope and creates a strange landscape for you to explore. It’s an open-world game that has a non-linear structure to its narrative. You are free to wander the danger-filled lands, using your powers to avoid enemies while solving the many problems that you face.
You control Prieto, a confused fellow who doesn’t know the power he possesses. He can dash at lightning speed to avoid his foes, and he can also turn invisible. This allows him to use stealth to avoid conflict and to reach otherwise blocked areas. However, each of these abilities comes at a cost, and if Prieto doesn’t plant or collect the flower of the gypsophila plant, he sadly dies.
This isn’t the only problem you face. No, if dawn arrives and you have not found a checkpoint known as a “Memory Stone”, your memory is wiped and all the action for that day is lost. You must stay alert, observing your stats to ensure you only turn invisible when necessary, and you reach a Memory Stone when the time comes.
Basic platform elements.
Though the story and core concepts are unique, the platforming elements are well-trodden. Timing jumps, failing platforms, moving bridges, and plenty of collectables make up a familiar setting. However, it doesn’t get boring because of the requirement to be patient, knowing when to turn invisible, and the constant movement of the sun.
Onirike takes you on a journey across some strange locations; A maze filled with minotaurs, a deadly sea that kills you instantly, a miniature village with cardboard people, an enormous volcano, and more. You will explore these areas with the desire to find key fragments to open the Well of Truth. This powerful place will tell you how to keep your memory, but opening the lock is easier said than done.
As you venture around the Orb, you will encounter many foes who desire to take your life. Spiders, wasps, minotaurs, and the Devourers of Souls. You must think fast, use your powers, and have enough seeds to ensure you don’t lose your life. Your enemies hide behind walls and around corners, so you must be prepared to act quickly or you will lose your life repeatedly.
The quests are varied, test your patience, but lack difficulty.
Onirike has tried to blend some light puzzle elements within its gameplay that add a nice layer of variety but doesn’t add difficulty. Most problems are solved with minor amounts of logical thinking and some keen observation skills. You’ll experience many of the same mechanics for each puzzle, but thankfully the settings all differ which prevents them from becoming repetitive.
The puzzles go hand in hand with each quest you must undertake. Whether you are saving the tiny cardboard people to restart a train, dropping pizza slices from the sky, or draining a poisonous ocean, they have a reoccurring theme. Most ask you to work with pressure plates and switches to solve the problems and to make the quest progress. The difficulty doesn’t arise from the puzzles. No, usually, the deadly environment or aggressive enemies hold you up. You are required to think on your feet, to create solutions with your abilities, and to use stealth to your advantage.
Onirike has a striking aesthetic.
I’ve played some dark games, but Onirike is something else. The environment and earthy tones make this overbearing and oppressive, ensuring the Orb is a depressing place to explore. The characters add life and colour with their strange dreamlike looks, whereas Prieto has a bizarre puppet-like appearance that is creepy to look at. The NPCs are equally strange and the weirdness enhances the surreal nature of this dream world.
Each portion of the Orb is well designed, offering something different. The claustrophobic maze is difficult to navigate, the volcano is laced with danger, and the memory stone transports you to the wonderful gypsophila fields. The bright endless field represents hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.
The audio is equally strange, with eerie sounds and haunting music playing throughout. Each of the creatures shrieks and screams, filling you with fear. The story is punctuated with cutscenes and plenty of narration. The fairytale style is in keeping with the overall theme and was well delivered, mostly. Subtitles help you read along, but oddly they don’t match up with the dialogue. It was strange but didn’t impact the gameplay.
The camera is clumsy.
The simplicity of the game is reflected in the basic control setup. A well laid out mapping makes it easy to pick up and play even when new mechanics are added. You have control over the camera at all times, but it’s clumsy to use. Until you get used to it, you’ll crash into platforms, get caught by your enemies, and fall to your death. However, once you’ve mastered it, you’ll love exploring the Orb, taking in all it offers.
Open world adventure games usually offer a lot of replay value. Onirike follows this trend because of its non-linear style and the gypsophila spores that you must collect. Hundreds of these glowing dots are hidden around the Orb and you must collect them all if you wish to complete the game. With different quests to undertake and a large world to explore, this will keep you coming back for more.
Onirike: a weird but wonderful adventure.
If you, like me, don’t remember your dreams, now’s your chance to live through one repeatedly. With creepy aesthetics, a wonderfully bizarre story, and beautiful and horrendous characters to interact with, this is part dream and part nightmare. I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! Time is not on your side, and your memory is poor. Can you collect the key fragments to open the Well of Truth, or will you be stuck in this nightmare cycle forever?