STAFF REVIEW of Lucy Dreaming (Xbox One)

Thursday, May 25, 2023.
by Adam Dileva

Lucy Dreaming Box art I’m probably going to date myself, but I grew up when Point & Click adventure games were the norm. Before shooters and zombies took over nearly every game, there were dozens of Point & Click games, many of which went on to become iconic classics. Growing up with The Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Sam and Max, as well as many others, it was one of my favorite genres, known for their challenging puzzles and usually full of humor.

While the genre isn’t as big as it once was decades ago, there have been a few releases in the past few years, most notably being the excellent Thimbleweed Park, so naturally when a new Point & Click adventure releases I become instantly intrigued. Having done no research beforehand about Lucy Dreaming from developer Tall Story Games, it initially was a Kickstarter, now released for console as well.

Looking as though it was taken right from the golden era of the genre in the 90’s with its pixel art, Lucy Dreaming was challenging, hilarious, addictive and an overall wonderful adventure that hit all the nostalgic highs I wanted, as well as having plenty of Easter eggs and modern references that caused a few out loud laughs. You play as the titular Lucy as she explores the real world to solve a mystery, but also having to deal with her own nightmares in the dream world a well. British humor may be a bit drier than I’m used to, but I still found myself chuckling quite often. I mean, I know I’m a man-child, but small birds being referenced as tits is hilarious.

Lucid Dreaming is described as “When you know that you're dreaming while you're asleep. You're aware that the events flashing through your brain aren't really happening. But the dream feels vivid and real. You may even be able to control how the action unfolds, as if you're directing a movie in your sleep.” Lucid dreams are what Lucy is dealing with, finding herself falling once she goes to sleep, a recurring nightmare she wants to stop from happening. To do so she’ll have to find a way to control her dreams, but doing so isn’t easy and will require a lot of out of the box thinking, possibly even jumping from one dream to another.

Lucy decides to use her father’s psychology book to possibly help her take control of her dreams, giving her clues as to how to do so, acting as subtle clues as to what needs to be done. While you think that the majority of the gameplay might revolve around these dream worlds, most takes place in the real world when she uncovers a dark family secret along the way. Maybe things you learn in the real world will be applicable to the dream world, and vice versa.

Like any good Point & Click adventure, you’ll gather items along the way needed to solve puzzles in unique ways or to combine with other items. As you learn more about the people you meet or areas, new places in the town will unlock that Lucy can fast travel to on her bike by using the map. You’ll visit the Library, Town Center and Lucy’s home amongst other places to solve a mystery. You’ll meet a wide variety cast of characters, each completely unique in their own way and quite memorable, and maybe bringing in your beloved teddy bear or a rubber duck into your dream world will have you see them in a completely new way.

While I don’t want to spoil any of the story as it was quite interesting, your first playthrough will probably be around somewhere around a dozen hours or so, less if you’re naturally skilled at classic Point & Click adventures and can think outside the box for puzzle solutions. With a walkthrough you could probably complete it in about half the time, but make sure to explore all you can, talk to everyone and take in its British humor and witty one liners.

Clearly a love letter to the 90’s genre, Lucy Dreaming has everything you’d come to expect from a Lucas Arts-style Point and Click; great pixel artwork, humor, challenging puzzles, Easter eggs and plenty of dialogue to get lost in. The bottom portion of the screen has your usable commands such as “Look At”, “Pick Up”, “Talk To” and “Use”. This is how you interact with the world, objects and characters, deciding exactly how you want to do so. Click anywhere on the screen in each scene and that’s where Lucy will walk to by default.

Puzzles are what make the genre what it is, and Lucy Dreaming is no different. While I’d like to think I’m pretty decent at these types of games, I’ll admit, I got stumped a few times and had to take some time to figure out what to do. Thankfully there’s a built in hint system if needed, but a few of the later puzzles I found to be a little too obtuse to figure out naturally, though like any good puzzler, once you solve it you feel like a certified genius.

As you explore each area and scene, talking to people along the way, you’ll get clues as to what to do next, noting them in your diary as a reminder. You’ll quickly notice that sometimes the real and dream worlds blend together, so what might not seem relevant now may just help you when you get Lucy to change into her PJ’s and go into the dream world. Sher even has a handy dream box of sorts where any of the items she puts into it will go into the dream world with her. A full glass of water on her nightside desk will have the tide rise, while it empty will have low tide. The same goes for your fan, as maybe the direction it's facing will affect how the wind is blowing in your dreams.

For example, putting a joke book in the box changes the dream setting to a comedy club, and if she puts her Teddy Bear in the box, he then comes to life in the dream world as well. It’s done in a very clever way and later on you’ll need to go from one dream to another, done so by waking up, changing the contents in your dream box, then going back to sleep. While your real world inventory doesn’t go into the dream world with you, the items you find and collect in your dreams do persist from one dream to the next. Clearly you’ll need to progress in one scene to make progress in another, though this portion wasn’t explained all too well initially and took some figuring out with trial and error on my part.

Each nightmare, like her falling from the sky in the beginning for example, is essentially its own Chapter. Once you figure out how to have Lucy stop falling, she finds herself stuck in another nightmare, which brings you to the next Chapter. With an overall mystery to solve as well, Lucy is a busy girl, and while I didn’t find the ending completely satisfying, I’m still glad to have played and enjoyed myself throughout.

The pixel art is done absolutely wonderfully, looking as if it came from the 90’s at the height of the genre popularity. There’s so much detail in every scene, and while a few intractable objects can be a little hidden and difficult to notice at first, you eventually get used to pixel hunting like in any other Point & Click game. The most surprising was how every single line of dialogue and character was fully voiced. That’s usually not always a given in the genre, so it was pleasant to have. All the voice actors were great as were the sound effects and soundtrack, totally bringing back some 90’s nostalgia.

Lucy Dreaming is exactly what I was wanting from a Point & Click adventure; full of humor, great pixel art, quirky puzzles and memorable characters. A lot of attention went into adding plenty of smaller details into Lucy’s world, making it feel much more alive and full. A must play for Point & Click adventure fans, Lucy Dreaming was simply a joy to play, even if the British humor won’t always land for everyone.

**Lucy Dreaming was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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