Dreams are strange. Every night when you close your eyes you enter a movie world; one that is unlike anything else. You can be a hero in your adventure, with action and daring. You can find yourself in a strange, surreal horror landscape where nothing makes sense and all you want to do is wake up quickly. These dreams are there to be discussed; with loved ones, friends, therapists… all in order to try and make sense of them. But what about the dreams within us that are there waiting to come out, but never come true? Onirike uses this as its premise, taking us to a place of nightmares and fantasy. Let us dive in with eyes wide open.
Onirike is a third person platform action-adventure set in a world where Tim Burton might be glad to set up home. You play the role of Prieto who finds himself wandering a strange circus. You are unsure of your purpose in the world and set out on a strange and weird adventure that feels like a Grimm Fairy Tale; dialled up to eleven. The story is narrated by a teenager and even though it is well-written, it is tough to follow. Thankfully that doesn’t seem to matter too much. The characters you meet along the way are unusual and odd too – in the first ten minutes, you stumble into a puppeteer who is controlled by its own puppet, a strange blob-like creature who collects objects and a gatekeeper who is scared stiff of everything. As the adventure continues the story begins to play out like a twisted ride down someone’s mad imagination. It’s very good and works perfectly.
Onirike itself feels like an open-world adventure mixed with some platforming and exploration elements. There isn’t any combat to be had, but that doesn’t mean creatures don’t want to kill you. Far from it. There are all manner of big and scary foes out there, looking to get you.
How the game works is that there are seven parts of a key that you need to find; scattered across seven open-world areas each, with their own set of challenges and goals. You move your little character around, able to jump onto platforms, occasionally performing special moves like lightning dashes. There are also save areas before each open-world zone, leaving you to move into a sort of heavenly world. You fly and jump around to collect spores for a flower and have a small time limit to grab as many as possible. These spores are vital.
You see, as you move across the world Prieto starts to fall asleep; an icon showing an eye that will eventually close. If this happens Prieto will become invisible for a short while and then dissipate completely, leaving you to start again from the save point. To stop Prieto from going invisible you have to plant the collected spores into the ground and then absorb the flowers that bloom from them to reset the tiredness counter. That’s all well and good, yet there will be times when you need to harness that invisibility to get past certain creatures. It becomes a clever balancing act that brings an element of strategy.
The gameplay in Onirike is very unique and such a clever concept. The idea of having to keep planting flowers is clever and whilst the platforming is good, it is not perfect. It’s in the range of puzzles and tasks to complete in this strange world of dreams where the real enjoyment comes from though – it’s something that I loved playing around with and never tired of.
Visually and as mentioned, Onirike has a heavy tone of Tim Burton about it, especially some Nightmare Before Christmas vibes. The characters themselves have a real interesting look which reminds of stop-motion clay animation; it’s very unique and obvious that a lot of care and creativity has gone into it. The same could be said of the worlds that you find yourself – they don’t make sense, yet are full of dream surrealness that works perfectly in the world created. The colours sometimes feel a tad drab, but nothing too dull to ever nullify the enjoyment of the place.
The soundtrack is a good one as well, fitting the mood perfectly. The key piece of work here though is the voice-over. The one narrator that explains the story and covers all the voices is superbly well-done; it’s a great performance and you feel that you’re in safe hands throughout.
Onirike is a unique action platforming adventure with a great premise and a weirdly wonderful narrative. The platforming is not always the best and having to plant flowers in order to find progress is initially tricky to get to grips with, but the puzzles are inventive and the design of the world is superb.
If you’re after something to dream about then Onirike might be the answer.
Enter the world of your dreams with Onirike on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One