YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– is a reimagining of KIKIYAMA’s Yume Nikki. But it did not come close to being as well beloved like its predecessor. What happened?
|Developer||Active Gaming Media Inc., Kadokawa Corporation|
|Publisher||Active Gaming Media, PLAYISM|
|Genre||Platformer, puzzle, psychological horror|
|Purchase||Purchase from Steam.|
|Free Download (Original Yume Nikki)||Download from Steam.|
So, a bizarre thing happened this year. On January 10, 2018, the PLAYISM version of Yume Nikki appeared on Steam without warning. Fans of the original game gathered round to once again experience the RPG Maker classic.
For those unaware of the original game, Yume Nikki is a free RPG Maker game created by Japanese indie developer KIKIYAMA (ききやま). However, the game itself is not a normal RPG. It’s actually a top-down exploration game where you explore a young girl’s dream world, while meeting bizarre characters and witnessing horrific events. The final version of the game was 0.10, leading to speculation that the game was never truly completed. While it did have an ending, it left many people bewildered.
It was quite a unique game for its time. So much so that it inspired countless fan games such as .flow, Yume 2kki, Lcd Dem, Yume Nisshi, etc. Even inspired Toby Fox, the developer of Undertale. It was strange, disturbing and mystifying. And for many, a dearly beloved indie classic.
KIKIYAMA is as mysterious a developer as one could get. Was KIKIYAMA one person? A group? Male? Female? An alien from a faraway galaxy? Very few people know, though there was speculation that he was a sole male according to those who claimed to have spoken to him. KIKIYAMA was known to be short-spoken towards other people over e-mail, but otherwise doesn’t really speak to people. Over a decade had passed since the release of Yume Nikki and KIKIYAMA had said or done nothing. People even thought that he was dead. No one expected what was coming.
A countdown website appeared out of nowhere and freaked the fandom out. Many questions ran through our heads. What the hell could it be? Why now? Does this mean that KIKIYAMA is back?
Apparently, if you stayed up until midnight to watch the counter, a new character art appears and vanishes later on. Talk about mysterious. But that’s not the end of it.
Trailer videos surfaced on the Enterbrain (developer of RPG Maker) YouTube channel. As more videos pop up, it’s becoming more clear on what it could be.
An actual game.
So “naturally,” people got paranoid thinking it’s going to suck. Why? Well…
- It’s not being developed by KIKIYAMA. Supposedly, it was supervised by him.
- It’s being developed by Kadokawa instead, and that somehow means it’s going to be automatically bad because “BIG EVIL CORPORATION MAKIN’ MONEY OFF US DURRRRR!”
- The videos showed a sidescrolling platformer, not a top-down exploration game. Somehow, that’s a negative trait too.
- “IT’S NOT YUMMY NICKY! IT’S GOING TO SUCK CUZ I SAID SO!”
Good lord, people. Withhold judgement before you go nuts. What were you expecting, a 30-hour remake for the PlayStation 4 published by Square-Enix?
But yes, we got YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY–, the followup game to KIKIYAMA’s RPG Maker classic. Was this unexpected surprise worth the wait? Or should we just lower our standards now before we get severely disappointed, just like how I learned with Fire Emblem Fates a few years ago?
Hint: pick the latter! Pick the latter!
And before you ask, yes, I posted this one review on Steam. If you’ve seen it before, then you already know my stance on this game. It hasn’t really changed since I posted it, though I am taking this game’s common criticisms into mind. So this time, we’re going to get a full review of YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY–.
Return to Madness
So yeah, you might notice that YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– is a bit of a redundant name. However, I don’t really mind this too much as this subtitle was used to distinguish it from the original game. Furthermore, it just outlines the meaning in the title. It’s kinda like with the anime called Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files. I’m not going to be anal about it, but I just thought I’d point it out.
And another thing I ought to point out.
Beware, conspiracy theorists are going to pick this apart because they have nothing better to do. Next thing you’ll know, they’ll say KIKIYAMA is actually dead without any evidence and that Kadokawa stole the rights to his game while pissing on his grave. What a life this is.
So yeah, some of the rumors surrounding YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– before release are true. This is a 3D reimagining of the original game made into a platformer of sorts. And let me repeat, this is a reimagining, not a remake. Reimagining. Get that sorted out please because some people didn’t read the damn Steam description and later cried out, “This is not a remake!”
But yes, a platformer. I don’t mind this change too much since the platformer genre is a great match for adventure games, so it could definitely work for something like Yume Nikki. When taken to three dimensions instead of two, a whole new world of opportunities opens up.
Sadly, YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– doesn’t take full advantage of this. We’re going to see where this game succeeded and failed.
YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– stars a young Japanese girl with braided pigtails and a pink sweater with a checkered tile pattern. We knew this girl as Madotsuki (“windowed”) from the original Yume Nikki, who lives in a small apartment space and refuses to leave for unknown reasons. She spends much of her time in this small space, possibly reflecting a hikikomori lifestyle.
And when Madotsuki falls asleep, she enters a dream world where she consistently experiences lucid dreams. And in the smaller dream worlds, she meets odd characters and witnesses unsettling events.
So far, this portion of YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– captures the look and feel of the original Yume Nikki, faithfully. Madotsuki can look at the city from her balcony. She can play video games. She writes in her dream diary often. She also doesn’t want to leave her little safe zone, for some odd reason. From the way how Madotsuki interacts with her room to the transition into her dreams, the game managed to recreate those events and make you feel like you’re playing a Yume Nikki game.
Alas, things take a different turn from this point on.
So after you fall asleep, you can enter the Nexus, the gateway to other dream worlds. In the original Yume Nikki, there were 12 doors leading to different worlds. In –DREAM DIARY–, there are only 6 (one of which is locked until you explore the other worlds). And yes, this unfortunately implies that –DREAM DIARY– doesn’t have as many places to explore as the original game did. But quantity doesn’t outweigh quality, so let’s see what happens.
So my first taste of gameplay is the Docks. This area is a sidescrolling platformer section where you must not fall into the water, solve simple physics puzzles and avoid the Toriningen. You know…
These “charming” abortions we wished we had…
But then again, it’s not quite sidescrolling for some odd reason. Or at least, the first part of the Docks. It’s an area composed of multiple screens. But in the second portion of the Docks, it’s actually a sidescroller. I don’t know if this is an intentional design choice, but it does come off as inconsistent.
At least the Docks was an atmospheric map with nice lighting and a well-made recreated background music. Compare the original:
To the recreation:
And as you continue exploring, you will encounter more worlds. Most are recreations of the areas from the original game while a few others are new. But you might be disappointed to learn that some of these areas have very little to do in them since some are strictly for completing sidequests and are quite small.
The platformer elements only seem to apply for certain maps. The Docks, for example, forced you to move in a two-dimensional space. But there are also some maps that allow you to move in a three-dimensional space. I guess you could say it’s a bit like… Crash Bandicoot? I know that’s a weird comparison to make, but it kinda fits. If anything, YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– does come across as a lighter version of INSIDE or Little Nightmares rather than Yume Nikki.
YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– also features some degree of nonlinear gameplay with item collection and puzzle-solving. Naturally, this means you need to explore other worlds and complete sidequests to get the items you need to enter a new area. Bumped into a dead end? Explore! Some of the puzzle solutions are a bit… odd, but I never really had big problems finding them. Might be a different story for other players, though.
But for the amount of nonlinearity we got, the maps themselves feel linear. There are almost no branching paths or disorienting map designs, which were heavily featured in the original game. There weren’t even seamless looping maps. The Mall was the only looping map in this game, but you had to pass through some doors to appear from the other side.
Part of what made Yume Nikki so enjoyable is the interconnection between various worlds. There were multiple entrances to the same world, as well as multiple exits leading to different areas. This aspect of the game makes Madotsuki’s dream world feel so vast and complex. It just makes you want to get lost in these various areas and continue exploring.
YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– is completely lacking in that aspect, which is a damn shame. The Docks, Dark Alley and Barracks Settlement maps were the only places I could think of that had multiple entrances. And honestly, those entrances felt kinda pointless because you could easily access those worlds through the Nexus. This is one instance where I felt that –DREAM DIARY– failed to utilize its advantage of three-dimensional space.
The Depths… Or Lack Thereof
The Effects make a return to YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY–, albeit in a limited fashion.
In the original game, there were 24 Effects to collect and their usage varies. Some of them are utilities, such as the Bicycle (for faster movement) and the Knife (to kill NPCs). Some are purely cosmetic, like the Long Hair and the Demon.
In –DREAM DIARY–, there are only 5 Effects, all of them being utilities. The Knife, the Flute, the Umbrella and the Lantern make a return here with modified uses.
- Knife – kills certain NPCs
- Flute – play four different notes; needed for music sequence puzzles
- Umbrella – summons rain while held; used to double-jump and glide during platforming segments
- Lantern – lights up dark areas as long as it’s held
The only new Effect here is the Hamsa, which reveals hidden items in certain areas (look for a hand symbol in the background).
It’s nice that all of the Effects here do something, but… this is also pretty disappointing. Another aspect of fun in the original Yume Nikki was changing your character’s appearance. You can restyle her hair or… give her a frog’s head and make her do a cute little hop. Little quirks like these help give the game more character and charm to it. I mean, don’t we wish we can take on different forms in our dreams? Hell, the Lantern Effect in the original game changed Madotsuki’s head into a lantern. It was an Effect for both cosmetic and practical uses. But in –DREAM DIARY–, you just carry a regular oil lantern. That’s… just… boring… There was never a point where Madotsuki could become a shapeshifter.
You can also find collectibles in the form of Concept Art. Some are out in the open while others are hidden pretty well. And lucky for you, I actually wrote a walkthrough on where to find all of them.
And… the Concept Art actually looks great. It’s actually really cool to see some of the old Yume Nikki NPCs rendered in more detail than before. And oddly enough, it’s actually kinda rewarding to collect these items just to see the characters with more defined facial features and shadows. I normally don’t care about looking for art collectibles in video games. But I guess because the Concept Art somehow ties in with the minimalist narrative here, you’re a little more motivated to find them.
How does it tie in, you ask? Well, remember the aforementioned Dream Diary? In the original game, that’s the save feature. This game auto-saves, so the Dream Diary is actually… a dream diary. It chronicles Madotsuki’s adventures in her dream world, depicting all the strange characters she met and the worlds she explored. That’s actually a change I like.
And the final collectible is the red jellyfish. There is one in each area, save for the final door. The purpose of finding them is to unlock a secret ending. You’re normally going to find them by backtracking through previous areas you already visited with certain quest items that will now allow you to access new places.
So yeah, I’m a bit mixed with the stuff that you have to collect in this game. Some things are cool, some are… eh. Nothing terrible or even that bad at this point, but you would most likely prefer to play the original Yume Nikki instead.
But we’re not quite finished yet. Some new things and comparisons to the original game are in order.
So you might remember that the original Yume Nikki had a mini-game called NASU, a simple arcade-style game where you catch eggplants. If you miss even one, game over. Well, –DREAM DIARY– added in TWO mini-games.
First up is Super NASU, a major upgrade over the original game. While it maintained its arcade-like roots, it’s a shoot ’em up game instead of a “go-catch-the-eggplant-without-dying” game. And by god, it’s addictive to play. It’s wonderfully chaotic and challenging to boot. I could honestly keep playing it just for the high scores.
And surprise, surprise. We get a secret mini-game that is a direct homage to Ao Oni, another cult classic RPG Maker game. It’s pretty much a reworked survival horror game converted into an arcade game format. The objective here is to find the golden key and leave the mansion. Along the way, you can find other items and rescue your friends to increase your score. But beware. If you don’t rescue your friends quick enough, the blue demon will transform them into monsters like itself.
Cute mini-game too. It uses the Yume Nikki characters (Madotsuki, Poniko, Monoko, Monoe) in a way that I didn’t expect. It can be fun to play, but the later stages can be rigged to favor the blue demon—as in, turn ALL of your friends into demons one second into a new stage.
Overall, the visuals of –DREAM DIARY– are alright. Probably not the most ideal since most of the models look like they have a low polygon count, but enough work to represent the characters. The animations are pretty minimal as well, but I don’t expect much from a reboot of an indie game. If you had played the original game, you’ll recognize most of the NPCs. I think the usage of lightning and shadows were used to great effect here, like with the Docks map.
The original game had fantastic visuals. Sometimes, it’s minimalist. Sometimes, it looks like it came from an old 16-bit/32-bit game And it even uses real photographs to portray a strange cross between drawn sprites and photorealism. This easily works out for an experimental 2D game. Probably not so much for a 3D game like this one though. But what do I know. My point is that it would be hard to top the original game’s visuals.
But by far my favorite recreated area in the game is the Pink Sea. In the original game, the Pink Sea was a clear homage to Magicant of the Mother/Earthbound series. But it also had a calm and charming feel to it.
In –DREAM DIARY–, the Pink Sea is a mysterious, majestic place that resembled an enormous series of sand beaches. You can glide over the large body of pink water while watching ominous sperm-like creatures float around the enormous castle.
There isn’t much to do at the Pink Sea, but it definitely fills you with that sense of wonder and mystique that most other areas in the game fail to capture. You truly feel like you’re in a dream world, something grand in scale and limitless in its potential. Very much like human imagination itself… it’s almost kinda scary…
And while we’re on the topic of soundtracks, this is probably the greatest strength of YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY–. I’d be satisfied playing through the game just to listen to the soundtrack. Like I mentioned earlier, there were remastered versions of familiar areas, such as the Docks. The original track felt serene and quiet, but the remastered track felt more dramatic and passionate as if connecting to a world much larger than itself. Instead of being direct 3-5 second loops, –DREAM DIARY– had a more varied soundtrack. Some beats still repeat themselves, but otherwise felt more pleasant to listen to (the Hell theme from the original game constantly throbbed in my head like my brain was ready to implode).
There were also good remastered tracks like the Barracks Settlement, though I’ll admit I liked the original track better.
The original felt bittersweet. It’s like relaxing at home, though something doesn’t quite feel right. It feels… lonely and empty somehow, but you’re unable to discern what’s missing. You might call it a déjà vu type of feeling and you’re feeling depressed that you couldn’t fully remember it, as if you’re expecting something else to happen.
The remastered version of the track had a similar tone, though it’s not exactly the same. It’s more relaxing than empty, like a sunset racing towards the end of daytime in a small town. Honestly, I thought it’d fit pretty well as a random track in Minecraft. It’s a good remade track, but I preferred the original.
There’s an abundance of original tracks as well, which are surprisingly well made and… if I dare say, befitting of Yume Nikki.
The School themes were beautiful. Somewhat hopeful, but also very depressing, as if trying to mask a recent tragedy that would remain forever. No matter how much you try to conceal it, it will never go away.
Or something mysterious and ominous. Someplace you probably shouldn’t be at and you had this feeling that you’re being watched by a malicious figure. Maybe you just wandered into Silent Hill or something.
But yeah, solid composition work here.
You will meet many familiar NPCs such as Poniko, Uboa, Shitai-san, the Maussan Bros, Monoko, Monoe, Seccom Masada-sensei, etc. But probably not in the way you were expecting.
For example, Monoko is an optional NPC you can encounter by replaying a certain area. In the original game, she was a strange character who transforms into an odd creature upon using a specific Effect. Many fans interpreted Monoko as an unfortunate victim of a car accident. In –DREAM DIARY–, she appears to be a mischievous girl possessed by a spirit, which transformed her to her bizarre five-armed state.
Another example is Monoe, who is a mandatory encounter to complete the School area. In the original game, she’s a mysterious girl seen smiling before vanishing to a different area. In –DREAM DIARY–, she’s a distressed schoolgirl sobbing over what is possibly a tragedy.
These different portrayals of the characters didn’t exactly sit well with fans because they didn’t match up with their headcanon. With all the numerous fan theories for a game like Yume Nikki, it can be particularly distressing when an official game appears to challenge those theories. I don’t necessarily find these portrayals bad per say… more like odd because of how different they were,
But I’ll admit this straight away. The Uboa encounter SUCKED!
Uboa is one of the most iconic characters of Yume Nikki, due to his memorable jumpscare event that was originally a hard find. Interacting with him transports you to a nightmarish landscape, where the only escape is to wake up from the dream or use the Medamaude Effect. It’s easily one of the most unsettling events in the game.
In –DREAM DIARY–, he’s a crappy jumpscare JPEG that flashes for a millisecond. Don’t believe me?
That’s him. You can barely make out the ghoulish, grinning face. We don’t even get the infamous sound effect:
It happens so fast that you don’t know how to react. Way to botch up a great moment. I have no other words on how to sum it up. If there’s anything I agree with the critics on, it’s the poor execution of this event. Something like this should have been creepier in 3D.
And speaking of which, the horror aspect of –DREAM DIARY– is pretty weak. It’s not that the original Yume Nikki intentionally tried to frighten people with typical horror themes, but it’s more like it tried to take you into the depths of uncanny valley. It tries to make you feel uneasy on a psychological level. Even when you encounter seemingly innocent NPCs, you’re not entirely sure if they’re actually friendly or not. There was always something off about them. In this game… not so much…
–DREAM DIARY– featured some NPCs that were never seen in the original game, such as store mannequins. We could’ve just gone deeper into the mindfuckery and come up with more creative NPCs, but nope. Something more mundane like mannequins that come alive in the darkness.
I don’t mind this so much, but yeah. This is a tired horror game cliché that didn’t need to be in the game. Instead, the developer could’ve used an existing Yume Nikki NPC, such as the Eye People. Get them to move in certain intervals and attack Madotsuki.
There’s also a generic shadow man who chases after Madotsuki. Yeah, I think we can still do better than that…
One other complaint I had with the game is that it was released in a glitchy state. Jumps don’t work properly, you may clip through the floor and die, object collision can be wonky in places, NPCs can outright vanish from the playthrough, and other weird things. I never had anything game-breaking and I found easy workarounds for those glitches, so they were just minor annoyances to me. Thankfully, the developer was pretty vigilant in catching these bugs and fixing them in small updates. But at the time, my graphics setting can only go as high as “Good” and I would have to keep other programs closed in order for the game to run better.
And last but not least, the multiple worlds that did not make it in. –DREAM DIARY– did pick up some good locations to envision in 3D, such as the Docks, the Sky Garden, the Pink Sea and the Barracks Settlement. But what about places like the White Desert or the Famicom World? What about the creepy Number World, the quirky Shield-Folk World, the serene Snow World, or on the surface of freakin’ planet Mars?
It’s like the selection of worlds in this game feel a bit too mundane. Playing it a little safe. When you have places like a regular mall or a normal high school, it kinda downplays the dream-like atmosphere. Yeah, there are some weird places here and there, but… nothing too mind-bending, really.
Further Down the Abyss
Thus far, this pretty much sums up my thoughts on YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY–. There are some good things, some bad things. There were definitely some moments I enjoyed. And if I may be so bold, I even kinda like this game.
If this statement pisses you off, you need to calm the fuck down.
I guess the most interesting thing about this game is the controversy surrounding its creation and its actual quality. As I mentioned earlier, there are people claiming this game is going to suck a big one before the game was even released. And just by looking for reasons to bitch about the game, they continue to say it sucks to this day.
For example, there would be people claiming that the creator KIKIYAMA was never involved in this game whatsoever, despite having no evidence to point to this fact. It’s all speculation and nothing else.
Yes, we can’t prove if he actually worked on the game to some extent, but literally none of the fans know who KIKIYAMA is or what he looks like in real life. How exactly are we going to prove it? And even if we can, is it really worth losing sleep over?
Some even go far as saying that YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– breaks copyright law because it used someone’s IP without permission… even though we have yet to hear news about any lawsuits and whatnot. So again, just trying to turn speculation into “facts.” This “controversy” is paranoid nonsense intended to sling mud at the developer’s credibility simply because they’re looking for reasons to hate the game or the developer.
This goes without saying, but… these people need to chill the fuck out. The world is not going to end because a game you didn’t like came into existence.
I know some of this review kinda feels like I’m venting. Admittedly, I am. A bit. But if you’re going to be one of those people either recommending or discouraging stuff to prospective buyers, then you better give some good reasons on why you think so. And I’m not talking about letting your personal biases speak for you. I’m talking about giving the game an actual chance before judging it and trying to examine it in a more objective light.
If you come into the game already hating it, then… no shit, you still hate it! You shat on it before you actually played it, then you continue shitting on it after you played it for a few minutes. Then you find other people who hate the game for similar reasons. This is a little thing called confirmation bias.
Example: “This one guy said this game sucks and I think it sucks too and more people say it sucks, therefore this game sucks!
By filtering out the positive feedback of other people and completely ignoring them, they see the game in a more negative light because they refuse to acknowledge its redeemable qualities. So in the end, they give the game an even worse score than it most likely didn’t deserve. We had games like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the NES, Superman 64, Bubsy 3D, and so many Steam releases that had no business to be distributed commercially. And somehow, we got many people saying this game is at that level of quality.
If you want your opinions to be taken seriously at all, then you have to be able to examine both the good and the bad of a game. Be constructive, not destructive. If that’s not good enough for you, then your opinion means jackshit and you’re no authority on media whatsoever. It shows that you’re not out to offer meaningful feedback. You’re just out to rip something apart and expect other people to praise you for it.
To resurrect an old YouTube classic:
It’s fine not to like things. It’s fine to debate why you don’t like it, as long as you keep it civil. Everyone is going to have different tastes, therefore different opinions.
What isn’t fine is telling people that they have shit taste for liking a specific piece of media and pompously questioning their intelligence for liking said media. By doing this, you demonstrated that you’re disrespectful, callous, ignorant and vain. You’re not satisfied with shitting on something, so you decided to shit on the people who liked it just to boost your ego. By this point, your opinion is not worth a damn. You are the equivalent of a child throwing a tantrum and calling everyone stupid because they liked something that you hated. It doesn’t matter how much you bitch about it, especially with the way you’re going about it. It won’t change people’s minds.
I didn’t like Final Fantasy VII, supposedly “one of the best video games of all time.” But that doesn’t give me any sanctimonious right to go be a dick to Final Fantasy VII fans. But at the same time, it doesn’t give Final Fantasy VII fans the right to force me to like it because of their own personal reasons. The best service we can do for one another is to agree to disagree and accept that we all have different tastes in media.
Some critics might even claim YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– is worse than the manga adaptation released in 2013, which I think is a silly comparison. At least YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– tried to capture the tone and feel of the original game. The manga is, as I can best describe it, off in its own little world. One I cannot fathom. I mean, it tried to have a coherent story. And dialogue. Not that either one worked well…
But yeah, personal attacks against other people based on what they like and don’t like is not cool. And no, I’m not saying all this because I feel personally attacked or anything. But it does meet one of my pet peeves for people who claim to be “experts” on video games and therefore think their opinions matter more than others’. The so-called “gatekeepers of quality”who tell people what makes a good or bad game as an indisputable fact.
If you’re going pretend to be an “expert,” at least be professional about it. If you’re going to write up an opinion piece, expect dissenting opinions out there. By attacking other people and shoving your opinions down your readers’ throats, you make other critics look bad.
TL;DR version – Don’t be a pompous dick.
By no means am I calling YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– a fantastic game. As a followup to Yume Nikki, it definitely pales in comparison. As a standalone game, it’s not bad but it could’ve been something greater. To quote from my Steam review:
Considering this is a reimagining, -DREAM DIARY- is in no way a replacement for the original Yume Nikki. Instead, I’d like to see it as another side to Kikiyama’s world, maybe even a companion game to the original YN. Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but the game pretty much met my expectations so far from just the teaser screenshots and trailers. I NEVER expected -DREAM DIARY- to be just an outright copy of the original game. I recognize it as its own game, regardless of its source material.
If you’re expecting a true remake of Yume Nikki, -DREAM DIARY- is definitely not it. Some people might even call it a sequel of sorts, but I’d have to disagree. It’s pretty much its own different beast with a minimalist narrative that takes a different turn. It’s based on Yume Nikki, but it’s not trying to be EXACTLY Yume Nikki, if that makes any sense. It’s a new perspective of a premise we knew and love.
I’m not asking anyone to agree with me, but to at least acknowledge my argument as valid criticism. The fact that I liked YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– is more to do with preference than anything. But from an objective stance, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as some people claimed it to be (the kind who give this game 1/10, 2/10, 3/10, etc.) Trust me, I’d seen worse. I’d played worse. YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– doesn’t even come close to being that terrible. It’s certainly mediocre at best, frustrating at worst.
Don’t misunderstand me. This game is fundamentally flawed. But does that mean it’s a trainwreck? Well, no. More like a lesser car accident. It’s a game that deserves more time and effort put into it, if the developer is willing. Some fans think YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– is an irredeemable abomination that shouldn’t have existed. I, for one, believe it deserves a chance to improve itself.
For Yume Nikki fans, know what you’re actually getting into. It won’t top the original game, but you can still find enjoyment in it if you come in with realistic expectations instead of lofty ones. It’s fine if you like it or don’t like it. We all have our reasons.
Just don’t be a dick about it.
For platformer fans, you won’t find much here. It’s not particularly deep or exciting, but you might find other things to enjoy.
For those who had yet to experience the wonders of the original game, I’d recommend getting this game on sale if it somehow catches your fancy (and also try the original game for FREE on Steam). Just be aware that it’s a short game with numerous flaws.
Wait… what’s that… can it be… OH SHIT! IT IS!
A version 2.0 update.
Version 2.0 Content Update
Well, it seems my faith in this game is not misplaced after all. Ever since the release of this game, the development team has been hard at work in addressing the numerous bugs and even reading over suggestions from the Steam community. Eventually, the countdown timer on the Yume Nikki website started again and later revealed a new content update. The game went on sale for 50% off for a while, and we even got free content to boot. Good on them.
So to begin with, most of the existing areas haven’t been touched. The Wilderness has a couple new additions. First, the Stairway to the Sky was added. This simple area was in the original Yume Nikki as a transition to the Sky Garden. Not much to do here but to find a couple of Easter eggs. Still pretty cool to see, considering the surreal transition between a desert to what looks like a park in the sky.
Second, a new section of the Wilderness is available with the Hamsa effect. Basically, it’s a maze akin to the one found in the original The Legend of Zelda and you can find a few hidden areas and Easter eggs in it. But by far the most important part in it is a Concept Art. Sadly, this expanded area is pretty lacking.
Other additions include two new Effects, four new Concept Art collectibles, one more red jellyfish and two sketch pages based on the new worlds. Aside from the Wilderness sections I mentioned earlier, there are four new areas.
The Block World is visually appealing, as well as a fun place to explore. To exit this place, you must find Mafurako six times. You can only accomplish this if you have the Umbrella effect, since this whole world is pretty much a platforming challenge that emphasizes exploration. There are also certain jumps you couldn’t make otherwise.
The Snow World is also a wonderful addition. This area is probably the closest thing we’ll get to a classic Yume Nikki map, because it is by far the only area that seamlessly loops. Again, this is another map that emphasizes exploration… and even a lot of patience. If you want to find anything in this map, you’ll be here for a while. As a nice reference to the original game, it even has an igloo that takes you to the Pink Sea.
And HOLY SHIT! Uboa is now an NPC you can interact with! It’s pretty awesome to see him finally get a proper portrayal in this game instead of just being a weak jumpscare image. It really comes to show that the development team does read feedback and take it to heart.
And one last thing I want to bring up is the new mini-game called Majo Adventure (Majo means ‘witch’ in Japanese). It’s a cute reference to the Witch’s Flight event in the original Yume Nikki, but repurposed into a shoot ’em up game. It’s fun for a little bit but sadly gets repetitive quickly. The enemy variety never changes, including the boss fights. Honestly, I prefer Super NASU over this mini-game. Good effort, though.
And that’s about it. How do I feel about this content update overall? I think it’s pretty good, though I kinda expected it to be a little more than what we got. It’s still missing some iconic worlds that were in the original Yume Nikki, though I definitely love what the development team did with the Block World and the Snow World. The background music for both worlds were also wonderfully done.
Uboa was handled better too (you even get an Effect based on him), so that was cool.
As a result, I adjusted my review score into a more positive light, if you care about review scores at all. The new content does make YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY– into a more fulfilling game and I hope AGM and Kadokawa will continue in this direction. If we’re real lucky, we may even get another content update similar to this one. My fingers are crossed though, but only time will tell.
YUMENIKKI –DREAM DIARY–$19.99
- Some of the presentation is well done, faithfully recreating certain segments of the original Yume Nikki.
- Some of the puzzle-solving is alright, though nothing you haven't seen before in other indie platformers.
- The character models and environments look alright and the lighting is generally good. The Concept Art collectibles look fantastic.
- A well-made soundtrack that included good remastered versions of older tracks, as well as some enjoyable new ones.
- Fun mini-games.
- The sidecrolling platformer sections are lackluster.
- The individual maps feel linear, in contrast to the interconnection between worlds of the original game. There are also significantly less worlds to explore.
- General lack of open-ended and experimental design just like with its predecessor.
- The usage of certain NPCs defy expectations. At worst, poorly executed.
- Not really scary or disturbing like its predecessor.
- Originally released in a glitchy and unstable state.