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Pipe Dream Xbox Edition Review

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Pipe Dream is an appropriate name for this impossibly small game from 909Games. It was over so quickly that we wondered if it ever existed in the first place. Did we dream the last fifteen minutes? Writing a review of Pipe Dream seems like a special kind of folly, mostly because you can finish the game faster than it takes to read about it. 

Pipe Dream is a puzzle-platformer that has an odd goal, now we think about it. Your aim is to fall off the screen. We’re not quite sure why – there’s no story to pad out Pipe Dream – but we like to assume it’s to jolt you awake. To fall off the screen, you need to end up on the outside of the puzzle, and more importantly, connect up all the pipes in the level before you do so. 

pipe dream xbox edition review 1
Pipe Dream is odd

We would have loved a tutorial, but Pipe Dream doesn’t have time for that hijinx. We had to learn what to do by playing and – at one point – watching someone complete the game on Youtube. We’ll pay it forward later on, so you don’t have to check yourselves. 

Basically, you’re a white pixel-dude in a level. There are holes in said level, and you can jump into them. Your best bet is to connect the holes together with pipes, which are automatically pumped out of your butt as you move through. You can’t return through the entry hole, as the pipes aren’t allowed to criss-cross each other. Instead, you have to make a path to a new hole. 

The complication is that there is often more than one hole. If there are two or three sets of holes, then you will need to lay down pipes that leave your options open. If you can travel to a hole and leave room for another network of pipes, parallel to yours, then you’re probably in a good place. Anticipating future moves is what Pipe Dream is all about.

This isn’t particularly difficult for the first half of Pipe Dream. It’s not particularly difficult in the second half either, but at least you know what you’re meant to do. Because, very abruptly, a new colour of hole is introduced at the halfway point, and we were utterly bemused about what they meant. We offer the solution to you as a gift: you need to change colour to fit through this new kind of hole, and you do this by traveling to a picture of the dude’s face in the level, then you press A. That changes your colour, which is what you need to start meddling with blue, red, brown and more holes. 

pipe dream xbox edition review 2
Connect up them pipes…

Changing colour, as it happens, is surprisingly erratic. We’ve spent a good few seconds at these colour-changing points, fuming as it refuses to switch to the colour we want. We’re not sure what’s gone wrong here, but the game loves to double-switch you, returning you to your previous colour rather than the new one. Persisting will eventually get you there, but we’re not entirely sure how Pipe Dream gets this simple task wrong. 

With the pipe networks complete, the holes filled, and – perhaps – some keys collected in the environment, you can merrily sling yourself off the edge of the level. It’s our favourite part of Pipe Dream. We’re not sure why suicide wins the day, but it’s strangely cathartic to toss yourself into the aether. 

But what makes Pipe Dream so bemusing (aside from the lo-fi graphics that make it feel like you’re playing on a scientific calculator) is that it all stops very, very suddenly. We had just got to grips with the colour-matching mechanics when Pipe Dream ended. There’s no credit sequence, no story to wrap up. It just says ‘that’s all folks’, gathers up its levels and skips away, waving its hat as it goes. 

This doesn’t happen at an hour or two hours. This happens at about fifteen minutes in – and that’s being charitable. It took us fifteen minutes because we got stuck and consulted Youtube. Anyone else would be speedrunning it in ten. 

pipe dream xbox edition review 3
Value for money? Nah.

£4.19, you could say, is not very much at all. But actually, when you break down the cost-per-hour, it becomes harder to make a case for Pipe Dream. Should any entertainment be the equivalent of £25 per hour? We’re doing the maths now, but Taylor Swift’s Eras tour is roughly the same amount. We’re going to guess that one is more entertaining than the other, give or take some personal taste for pop. 

Pipe Dream has the barest whisper of a puzzle-platforming idea, and only gets ten minutes into exploring it. We wondered if we were missing something. Did we take a wrong turn? Did we download a demo and not the game? No, it really is a sliver, a crumb of a game – one that can’t even justify its low £4.19 price tag. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Has a decent pipe-crossing concept
  • Flinging yourself to your doom is fun
Cons:
  • Impossibly short
  • Looks that only a mother would love
  • Doesn’t tutorialise itself well
  • Zero replayability
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One
  • Release date and price - 5 September 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Has a decent pipe-crossing concept</li> <li>Flinging yourself to your doom is fun</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Impossibly short</li> <li>Looks that only a mother would love</li> <li>Doesn’t tutorialise itself well</li> <li>Zero replayability</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One <li>Release date and price - 5 September 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>Pipe Dream Xbox Edition Review
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