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Will you be able to find a way out of this nightmare... again? Or, maybe on the contrary - will you go even deeper?
A sequel to an award-winning horror point-and-click game Deep Sleep.
cool and scary
I feel bad for not rating this game higher. You can tell there's an incredible amount of work that went into crafting not only the art assets, but the tone and the mood of the game as a whole. Unfortunately, Deeper Sleep suffers from the worst Adventure Game disease: Pixel Hunting. Twice, I got stuck, wandering around the area I've already explored for twenty minutes, hopelessly clicking on random background objects, getting bored, giving up, and consulting the walkthrough. Both times, it turned out there was some damned door hidden behind the sepia tone. I'd sure like to see what monitor this game was tested on, because even with brightness turned all the way up and my laptop's screen tilted at a weird angle, these fuckers were just BARELY visible.
Once you account for that, the game is only like 7 minutes long. This despite lots of long pointless hallways that don't contain any items or locks. You just click, click, click your way through the forest and then click, click, click your way back. It's filler. Filler that, ironically, seems like it would have taken a lot longer to produce than, say, adding one more key/item combination.
As with the sepia tone, the pixel noise "static" effect is also way too pronounced. Isn't a pixel hunt bad enough without further obscuring the pixels? A note to scriptwelder: These things should be SUBTLE! They should add atmosphere to the game without completely obscuring it. Take a look at the Submachine series for a good example of sepia tone done right. As for the static, you want it about 25% as harsh as it is right now. Maybe make it "flare up" in times of great panic or something.
There were a few great setpieces here, like when the library room dissolved or the lone encounter with the "monster" where you fumble the key. That was clever. I also liked how the "notes" were just a single page of backstory with pieces missing, rather than page after page of rambling lore.
All of this said, and technical issues aside, I feel like more could have been done with the premise. I'm playing a guy who has "always wanted" to experience the unrestricted freedom of a lucid dream, right? And one of the VERY first things that happens is a whole wall of the library dissolves into sand. So why the hell isn't he flying around the library shooting rainbows out of his ass at the monsters? That's what I would do in a lucid dream. I once threw a BOOK at a T-REX in a dream! But using a battery to power the elevator is somehow "too crazy" after I just saw the wall melt and the traffic outside disappear?
I realize that maybe he just isn't "deep" enough yet to be lucid dreaming, but that implies he's completely safe from the monsters we're seeing throughout the game. People in horror movies faced with a monster often start desperately trying to convince themselves it's all a dream, even when it isn't! I'm just saying, past a certian point (literally the first area,) the PLAYER assumes he's lucid dreaming. That's what makes it SCARY. So I was half-expecting dream-like solutions to puzzles, and was disappointed when everything ended up being so "grounded" in the real world.
I know that's a weird thing to ask for, crazy nonsense puzzles. It's one of the most common complaints about the Adventure Game genre. But if any game could justify such puzzles, it's a game about dreams, right? Maybe I'm just bitter because I couldn't find the flashlight for a long time, thanks to that first invisible door.
Overall this is a mostly-competent game that trips over its own feet. If possible, I recommend reducing the Sepia Tone by 50% and reducing the pixel noise to 1/4 IMMEDIATELY. Like, make the changes right now and re-reupload the game. It'll give you less crap from guys like me. And for the third game, hopefully try to do something with the theme of Lucid Dreaming that sets this series apart from all the other horror games where "OMG that poster's face is DIFFERENT now!" Not that scriptwelder hasn't done a good job with the tropes and atmosphere, but it's good where it could be great. It needs a little more pacing and timing to really build up that slow-burn psychological tension.
And above all it needs to not yank you out of the experience by forcing you to consult the walkthrough just to progress. A game where a person tells you exactly where to go and what to do IN THE GAME would literally be scarier than a game where you have to stop and look up the answer outside of the game. But I don't think that level of hand-holding is necessary here. Just make the obvious exits obvious, and you should be good.
I look forward to the next game in this series, because subtlety is King in good horror, I know that subtlety is the kind of thing that only comes with time and experience. Maybe next dream.
Wow, thanks for this incredibly throughout review/feedback!
I will take under consideration some of your points as I find them really interesting.
I hate to admit it but I've probably failed as a designer if people say there is pixel-hunting present in my game. After what I've learnt from previous games, I decided this one will only have pixel-hunting as something completely optional and not required to complete the main plot. So I've made those scraps of papers that were meant to be really small and difficult to get, while other things are big and clear - I've spent few hours just making that damn needle shine in the flashlight beam :D But now I see I might have missed the obvious while paying attention to details: Yes, light in some areas is definitely too dim. I know exactly where you couldn't find the doorway. It won't be hard to adjust the light there, so I think I'll just do it in next update :)
As for pixel noise - originally it was going be be fluctuating up and down, depending on what happens on the screen. For various reasons I abandoned this idea and left the noise on a fixed level. Because of blending method, the noise is more visible when it's dark... so I think it connects with the previous problem you've mentioned.
As for empty spaces, corridor and forest - well first of all forest isn't really that empty, you know :D and dark corridor is a very special place from part one - its sole purpose here is to bring back memories.
I completely understand what do you have in mind while saying there is no lucid dreaming in this game. Remember this is a _failed_ lucid dreaming attempt. I guess the fact that player's character has no control over the dream, will be further explained in the next installment of the game.
I'm going to write a blog post about making of Deeper Sleep, something like 'post mortem' post soon, trying to pinpoint where did I failed and where did I succeed, so keep your eye on my blog.
Definitely a new fan of your series! Can't wait for the next. By the by for anyone looking for the pages, they are as follows:
2. Battery room, bottom of bookcase
3. Talk to the traveler, ask "Who are 'They'" when option pops up.
4. Grate next to the Traveler's.
5. Fireplace in the Elk room
6. Classroom, middle desk, left leg
7. From the door with the crank, 3 screens in bottom left
8. Toy room, very top of the left box
9. Path to scarecrow on the left
10. Screen before mill in the tree
11. Path to well on the left
12. Wrench room top of the box on the left (careful not to click back out)
13. Mill to the right of the valve
14. Screen after mill, Left center
15. Fountain, right.
Love the followup to the first and the first. To anybody wishing to get past the big bad of this second game, mute the sound and cover the center of the screen with your palm. The key item is further up and towards the bottom to middle right. Then back up super fast and use it on the "slot". You'll drop it, because your char will be terrified: just pick it up and do it again and then push button and run out of there - fast! The big bad is merely an illusion trying to impede you from your goal.
One question though: Why are the Night Walkers, aka, the Shadow People so anxious to possess bodies, especially at this time? I could just imagine how Episode 3/Deepest Sleep Trilogy is going to go:
Shadow Person: ... *walks slowly and menacingly forward*
Protagonist: Just a moment!
Shadow Person: ... *stops*
Protagonist: Before you possess my body to enter my world, I would like to warn you that since my world is in a global recession that will never end, you'd be lucky to get what used to be a shit-shoveling job for dirt pay. I'm getting harassed by creditors every 5 hours a day through phone, email and snail-mail over my hefty student loans: it's gotten so bad that I don't even answer my phone and my family has disowned me, because the creditors have been harassing them too. And did I mention that my landlord is evicting me today, because I haven't had a job in a while and couldn't pay my rent? The streets are no place for-
Shadow Person: ... *sighs and leads the protagonist to a door behind it. Over the door is a placard reading: "Don't ever come back here. Ever."*
Protagonist: *goes through the door*
-[ Fade to white as the protagonist wakes up...but was it truly the right decision!?! ]-
The End (Great game, btw.)
I enjoyed it, but I would have enjoyed it more if the screen hadn't been so grainy. I was okay with how dark it was (I get that it's a horror game) but the rapidly-shifting pixels made it hard to spot things I needed to (Like, say, the path to the well. Or to the scarecrow. Or to the fountain. Or some of the things I needed to fill the sack with. Or other important things like that.)
Also it would be nice if the flashlight just auto-deployed when you needed it.
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