Monday, 28 November 2016

LSD: Dream Emulator

I have recently become aware of a very odd video game called LSD: Dream Emulator. This is a 'surrealist' exploration game which was made for the Sony PlayStation by Asmik Ace Entertainment in October 1998. 

The game is based on the decade-long Dream Journal of Hiroko Nishikawa, an artist at the development company. It is 1 of 3 projects released which were themed around the Dream Journal, the others being a music album, LSD and Remixes and the Dream Journal itself, Lovely Sweet Dream. The game has garnered somewhat of a cult following, due to it's eccentric nature, and has spawned a number of urban legends and Creepypasta horror stories. From 2009 onwards, there have been many popular 'Let's Play' videos on YouTube dedicated to this game. 

Many people have assumed that the game is based on the psychedelic effects of LSD, the drug, but the game has no explicit reference to this connection, and instead uses acronyms such as 'In Life, the Sensuous Dream' and 'In Limbo, the Silent Dream'.

The game is in first-person mode, and the player is able to navigate a series of environments, with normal ability to reverse or turn, look up or run. The environment is a 'dreamworld' and the main objective is to explore. If the player bumps into anything or any object in the environment, they are transported to a new environment, through a process called 'linking'. Bumping into other characters, animals or special objects typically result in transportation to more surreal environments. 

Similar to the real life dream experience, a dream can last up to approximately 10 minutes, after which the player will wake up, If the player falls off a cliff or down a hole, they will wake up immediately. When the player wakes up, the dreamworld fades, returning them to the main menu, which gives an info-graph which records their progress. The chart also displays the players state of mind, with options of 'upper', 'downer', 'static' and 'dynamic'. These options relate to the player's experience of the prior dreamworld environment and its general feel. Previous dreams may influence subsequent dream environments. 

A dreamworld may suddenly change while the player is walking around - for example, eyes may appear in the wall, which stare at the player. Even when the player revisits the same place again, the environment may have changed - for example, the player may encounter new objects.

Various creatures roam around the dreamworlds. These include a celestial flying nymph; a wild prairie horse; a huge man who fills an entire room; a pterodactyl; and faces on legs. 

The player may occasionally encounter 'The Grey Man' (also known as 'The Shadow Man'), a character in a grey trenchcoat and hat, who glides in one direction. It is possible to walk around him, but if you get too close, the screen will flash, and the player will lose the ability to recall the dream in a 'Flashback'. Another character is the 'Abyss Demon', which lures the player to a wonderful sight, which is just out of reach, and then appears from a cliff-face, forcing you to a new dreamworld. In the house dreamworld, there is a huge man between 2 walls, or on the second floor, who headbutts the player, gain transporting them to a new dreamworld.

The gameplay is measured in days. After roughly 15 - 30 days of gameplay, the player will see an option on the main menu entitled 'Flashbacks'. These Flashbacks last 2 - 4 minutes, and allow the player to re-experience previously encountered dream characters, and access previous dreamscapes - like dream memories. Often the only way to see a dreamworld looking exactly the same, twice or more in the game, is by recalling it using 'Flashbacks'. If the player takes the same steps in the Flashback as he did in the original version of that dream, the dream will repeat. There are over 500 patterns of music in the game, some of which appear on an officially released soundtrack. 

The game is incredibly popular due to it's eccentric nature, and has gained cult fame, leading to a huge number of 'Let's Play' videos on Youtube since 2009. The game has also been the subject of a number of Creepypasta horror fiction stories. 

I wanted to review this game for my Blog, but unfortunately, my Playstation emulator wouldn't allow this to happen. I will try and find a console version of the game. I have found some Youtube 'Let's Play' videos which show you some gameplay with commentary, pending me being able to do my own! 

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