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The Dreamhold

by Andrew Plotkin profile

Fantasy
2004

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(25)
4 star:
(54)
3 star:
(30)
2 star:
(3)
1 star:
(2)
Average Rating:
Number of Ratings: 114
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- CMG (NYC), February 15, 2017

- TheAncientOne, January 28, 2017

- Azul, November 24, 2016

- alexvicegrab, October 28, 2016

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Solid across the board, September 27, 2016
I can't speak to The Dreamhold's success as a tutorial game. I'm not a beginner, and I played it on Expert mode. Judged as a straightforward text adventure, though, it's good at pretty much everything else it does. Not exceptional--but quite good. In fact, I'm tempted to describe The Dreamhold with a variety of other phrases that might come off as tepid. Nicely put together. Largish. Straightforwardly laid out. Consistently logical. Familiar puzzle territory about understanding physical properties. A comfortable middle level of difficulty. Yeah, it's decidedly less high-concept than any of Andrew Plotkin's other works, but so what? I'm okay with a not-so-novel premise and setting if it's done well, and The Dreamhold is.

The environment is richly fantastic and feels cohesive thanks to simple room connections and vantage points that show other areas you'll reach later (or have already reached). The outdoor vistas are particularly good at keeping landmarks in view, preventing that Zorkian feeling of having wandered off into some new, unrelated structure. I did not need to make a map, but some hub areas have many exits, and complicated machinery is occasionally present, so careful reading is required in those cases. Personally, I can't get enough of glowing domes, magical artifacts, and whirling mechanisms, so having to pay attention to the details and really think about the setup of some of these rooms was a positive thing.

Also tying the game together are the snippets of lore and backstory you encounter throughout. Even if you don't understand them, these story threads suggest purpose and meaning for the otherwise surreal world around you, and some of the descriptions are simply cool, such as the (Spoiler - click to show)constellations in the planetarium. I'm not much for mulling over symbolism and theories in games like this, but I like that there's extra stuff there for people that enjoy those kinds of discussions. My impression was that Plotkin intended for the hidden trinkets to be a puzzle the community would solve collectively, sharing discoveries and interpretations. For my part, I found half of the secret stuff on my own and didn't feel bad when I looked up the rest. I would have appreciated an in-game indicator of what was left to find rather than a reflection of what I had already found, but honestly I probably would have never found the other stuff anyway.

On a final note, the title for this game--The Dreamhold--ranks up there with Riven as a truly great one. It's evocative, thematically appropriate, and easily recognizable by both humans and search engines. The game itself is not such a standout, unfortunately, but it's still high quality.

- Amaral, April 26, 2016

- Dhary, March 10, 2016

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An introductory fantasy game with a haunting atmosphere that doesn't quite gel, February 3, 2016
I played Dreamhold years ago, one of the first games I've played, and it's never been quite my favorite. It is intended as being accessible for beginners but still fun for older players. It is a mid-length fantasy game, where you play as a wizard trying to reconstruct his memories in a tower.

The puzzles are of course top-notch, especially with the berries and the stars. However, the plot was never really compelling to me. The protagonist is not an underdog, and everyone likes to root for the under dog.

Actually, I know exactly how to describe this game. This is Citizen Kane for interactive fiction. Reviewing the life of an old, powerful man and seeing how he got there. If you liked Citizen Kane, you will like Dreamhold. If you don't really go for those kinds of characters, you still might like the puzzles quite a bit. For me, it's the kind of game that I love while playing, then forget when I'm done.

- namekuseijin (anywhere but home), January 7, 2016

- Sobol (Russia), December 16, 2015

- Aryore, December 13, 2015

- paulmr, November 11, 2015

- Sophie Grimaud (France), August 2, 2015

- leanbh, July 30, 2015

- Lanternpaw, May 15, 2015

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
On Waking from the Dream, May 8, 2015
by scottmbruner (alameda, california)
I was completely enthralled by the fantastic world and implied history of Dreamhold. Like Spider & Web, the world of Dreamhold grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Plotkin's ability to masterfully craft such intertwined riddles within a believable (and compelling) magical reality is singular.

That being said, I don't know if this is the best way to introduce a new player/interactor/guinea pig into interactive fiction. While none of the puzzles are excruciating, the final puzzle, and many of the alternate endings are going to remain beyond the limits of the introductory player. To my eternal shame, I even got stuck on the final puzzle and had to hit the hint system (and still didn't understand!)

My other minor complaint is that Zarf obviously has created a fascinating world but the narrative clues are so obtuse and difficult that a player expecting for all the pieces to fall together in the end is going to be disappointed. As an introductory IF piece, having the prose be more James Joyce then Stephen King to me is a curious choice. One of the endings was fairly incomprehensible to me.

As a standard IF piece, though (and I do think the puzzles will provide challenge even to the most experienced adventurer), it's one of my favorites. I just wish, at the end, I understood a little more of the world. To Dreamhold's credit, though, it has given me enough reason to go back in again.

- Carpetbomb, April 7, 2015

- blue/green, March 18, 2015

- Matt W (San Diego, CA), March 14, 2015

- besmaller (Portland, OR), January 19, 2015

- Catalina, January 12, 2015

- BlitzWithGuns, December 5, 2014

- Janice M. Eisen (Portland, Oregon), November 11, 2014

- Man of Many Names, November 9, 2014

- lucyclare, September 9, 2014


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