Dreams are amazing things, pretty much treating us humans to a new movie every night. Granted some of these movies are surreal metaphors mixed with some of the most disturbing things, but at least the less weird ones will be suitable to chat over with friends, if only in order to understand how they have come about. Lucid Cycle is a game all about dreams and what they do and don’t mean. Are you ready to close your eyes and be transported to the land of nod?
Picked up by eastasiasoft, the developer behind Lucid Cycle is a man named Tonguç Bodur, a former graphic designer who has made beautiful short environmental games in the form of narrative experiences and walking sims.
Lucid Cycle is another game that is full of beautiful landscapes, but as these are grounded in the dream world, they can be surreal and strange. The simple story is that you are a person living in a modern apartment in a high-rise building. You go to sleep and have a series of dreams that are the main focus of the game. When you wake to your alarm, you are in the bedroom. A cat purrs, before you head to the living room, before consulting your AI version of Siri or Alexa. It asks you about your dreams and when you choose to talk about a certain one it gives a possibility of what it might mean. From there you head out to do some painting, building a picture bit by bit as the game progresses. What does it mean?
The game, like dreams, can be interpreted in many ways and not everything is laid out or delivered in a straightforward fashion. I questioned whether the flat was just a dream as well. The dreams themselves are a mixture of the mundane and hyper-real; offices where you put silly hats on the workers; surreal landscapes where you use humans with outstretched hands as bridges. The beauty of Lucid Cycle is that it doesn’t matter if you get the story or not, because it’s in the journey of travelling through the dream worlds that is important.
Gameplay-wise Lucid Cycle is played out in the first person and each dream you enter will require a different set of tasks. Some dreams are just about you walking through the environments, going from A to B. Others require you to solve puzzles like the aforementioned forming of bridges from humans with outstretched arms, rotating them in order to get through. Some levels require you to collect or destroy things, in hope of opening a portal to allow you to move out of the dream. There is such a mixture of things to see and do, played out via small driving sections and easy platforming moments.
The graphic designer in Tonguç Bodur is prominent in the visuals and level design. The dream worlds are fantastical, surreal, and delivered with some lovely lighting. The people and characters are some of the best looking I’ve seen in games. It’s a lovely looking experience, especially for a game of this size in terms of price and when you compare it to the triple-A market. Even the flat you wake up in is strewn with great attention to detail and I think his work on many other games comes into play here.
Soundwise it has a lovely score underneath all the dream sequences; one that rises and falls elegantly throughout. It takes you on an audio trip as well as a visual one, and even though the voice work is limited to the AI in the flat, it does a good job of being the robot and – later – getting annoyed at your actions.
Short but powerful, taking place over a couple of hours of running time, Lucid Cycle is extremely enjoyable. The idea of placing you in many different dreams has the feel of a short story anthology about it; this is helped by the fact that each and every one of them feels different in terms of style, location, and moments of gameplay. Fans of narrative adventures and walking sims will have a lovely time here, as it takes the genre into different areas of greatness.
If you want more action and perhaps need your stories told in a more linear kind of way then you might be disappointed, but I for one have appreciated what has been created. For the cheap price it’s worth taking a gamble on and should ensure we get to look forward to more creations of Bodur’s being pushed out onto Xbox.
Lucid Cycle is available from the Xbox Store