As dream-walking, tough-talking psychologist Alice Drake, you must enter your patients’ nightmares to fight their fears. With a minigun. The world’s only First-Person Freud-’em-up.
The 12 dream-levels are a series of lush set-pieces connected by short corridors; the diverse gallery of baddies is often functionally identical – either a little dude, a slow dude with rockets, or an enormo-dude. The six weapons are fun, Easy mode is a smooth, modest challenge, and the voice work is believable. It just doesn’t try hard enough. It doesn’t offer dark, thoughtful dissections of the human mind, or showcase a consistent mythology.
Instead, you shoot crowds of freaks. Every patient is reduced to a couple of hastily-Googled phobias and curing them boils down to shooting monsters. Agoraphobia? Shooting monsters. Fear of becoming a workaholic? Shooting monsters. To complain that it’s ignorant of psychology would be moot; it’s just plain ignorant. Enemies do nothing but run at you. The rooms are nothing but arenas. The multiplayer includes a co-op mode that sounds cool, but you’ll find more servers on the moon.
Frustratingly, Dreamkiller offers the odd glimpse of potential: after scaling a vertigo-sufferer’s dream-tower, you must cross a high, narrow bridge. Predictably, it starts to collapse. In that entire level, despite all the altitude, it’s the only sequence that attempts to use the patient’s vertigo for suspense. Psychonauts did brain-delving better. Serious Sam did campy horde-killing better. For this price, you could buy both. Twice.
Nov 5, 2009