Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be framed for murder in an alternative reality set in Post-Cold War USSR? If so, DreamBreak’s for you, because that’s the entire premise here. Drawing heavy inspiration from the pixel art style of yesteryear, DreamBreak easily looks like it could have been made for old school Nintendo instead of the current generation of gaming consoles. A lot of pain staking detail has gone into creating the world of the USSR that is inhabited by protagonist, Eugene. And yet, for every meticulously placed pixel, the world that Eugene is in still feels considerably generic. There are few indicators that this actually is the USSR and not just some generic location. Remove the few mentions of Lennin and the world of DreamBreak could just be any other futuristic metropolis.
Eugene, himself, falls into this trap too. In an effort to create the perfect “every man”, DreamBreak offers up nothing more than a generic shell of a character that is dripping in tropes and difficult to actually care anything about. He’s your classic brown haired, stubble studded dude with a blank face who you originally start off guiding through janitorial work and playing cheap arcade games at a bar. That’s not an exaggeration, either. The very first puzzle of the game is to help Eugene turn on the lights, while the second is to unclog a toilet in the bar by solving a simple puzzle.
While DreamBreak plays on Steam like a point and click adventure, on Xbox the game functions more like a 2D adventure title. Eugene is moved left and right primarily, with some scenes allowing for vertical movement as well, using the left thumbstick or the D pad. The character’s movement throughout the world is unfortunately slow and clunky, however, making it a chore to move around the scenes to pick up the various collectibles and notes that are scattered throughout. Objects that Eugene can interact with are framed with an orange “glow”, which lowers the difficulty level of most of the puzzles to a level of nonexistent. Every interactive item is bathed in orange, making it impossible to miss, so the only difficulty left is figuring out which items are to be used where. And the difficulty there is eliminated as the only option is to use the ‘action’ button near something orange. Problem solved.
DreamBreak had the potential to create a quirky and interesting story and combining it with a retro inspired art style that heightened the intrigue, but sadly it just falls flat on delivery. Everything feels either clunky to the point of annoyance or so over the top outlandish that it just comes back full circle and doesn’t even feel interesting anymore. At that point, its difficult to decide if the short campaign run time (approximately 2 hours) is even detrimental anymore.