Lucy Dreaming is the latest point-and-click adventure title from Tall Story Games. Anyone familiar with the classics of the genre will feel right at home with this one as it follows the same tropes of the Monkey Islands and LucasArts behemoths of old. That is not to say it simply copies the ideas from them, if anything it takes everything great about these titles and builds on them. It all adds up to a fantastic blend of new and old that will keep both veterans and newbies happy. Lucy Dreaming is out now on Steam.
As with all point-and-click games, we need a plucky underdog to help. Lucy, a schoolgirl from the small British town of Figgington, is having nightmares every time she falls asleep. The aim of the game is to solve a series of puzzles that enable Lucy to get over her nightmares and get a good night’s sleep. The story is delightfully simple and is filled with the typical humour you would expect from a British-made point-and-click adventure. Lucy is quite cheeky but adorable and likes to talk back to adults, especially if they are of the absent-minded variety.
As with any point-and-click adventure worth its salt, Lucy Dreaming has hundreds of puzzles to solve. Each time you figure something out the world around you changes and new places open up to visit. You start the game in Lucy’s house, with her parents away and looking after her gruesome little brother. The entire first chapter takes place inside the house with a couple of puzzles outside the front. This area is used to teach you the game mechanics and get you used to the lateral thinking needed to progress in the game.
The puzzles are played out in traditional point-and-click fashion with items collected being used to affect your world. Most of the items are everyday things such as boxes, books and string. But some are a little more exotic or used for comic effect. Stuffing for your bear and a rodent are two of the items that will have you scratching your head. Everything has its use though, and more importantly, disappears once it no longer serves a purpose. This is the key component of item management so you don’t get bogged down with a large inventory.
Lucy Dreaming’s interface is slick with four simple commands. Look, pick, talk and use are all you need to navigate Figgington and your items. It’s perfect for those who have never played this kind of game before but intuitive enough for seasoned experts. Clicking on objects is useful as Lucy will either describe it or interact with it exactly as you need her to. This is also a way to help solve puzzles. Tall Story Games has taken great care to make everything interactive. Lucy will tell you if something isn’t needed or if an item doesn’t go there.
It’s this attention to detail that helps Lucy Dreaming stand out from its competitors. There is a sense of self-awareness and not just generic phrases that bring the puzzles to life. You feel as though this is a living world and not just using tropes for the sake of it. As you progress you start to pick up on and look out for those little details. It makes Lucy Dreaming a joy to play and keeps the puzzle-solving at a healthy pace. This is not to say it’s easy, far from it, but none of the puzzles feel forced or shoehorned in.
Lucy Dreaming has a unique mechanic that sees you switching between the real world and Lucy’s dream state. Finishing puzzles and tasks in the dreams is how you move the entire game forward. Every time you fix a part of the nightmare you enter into a new chapter but still keep items. Some of the puzzles do cross over between different sections but nothing that causes any confusion. You know you’re progressing by being able to affect the dreams at all. Not being able to move a dream along means there is more to do in the real world.
This is a great system that helps keep you on track and again keeps the pacing just about right. If you do get stuck then using the dreams can give little hints on what items you are missing. This is also aided by a helpful tool that highlights areas of interest in each room. It doesn’t allow you to cheat but does give you the nudge needed to concentrate on that area. There is a decent balance between hand-holding and much-needed help that these games often lack. In Lucy Dreaming it’s hard to get stuck although not impossible.
Graphically, Lucy Dreaming uses a beautifully detailed pixel art style. The use of colour and imagery is deliberate and everything has its place and has been well thought out. The animation is decent and it’s fun watching the characters interact with Lucy. There are a few screens that are a little bland but this doesn’t detract from the lovingly crafted world. It would be harsh to ask for more given the size of the team involved and this does feel like a typical British town throughout. You will fall in love with Figgington and its quirky-looking inhabitants.
One aspect where Lucy Dreaming shines is the voice work that is prevalent throughout the entire game. It’s impressive to see so much dialogue in one game and the cast of voice actors should be commended. From uptight librarians to old ladies, annoying little brothers and Lucy herself, there is so much richness in the acting. This does make Lucy Dreaming an instant classic as these games rely so heavily on characters to drive the puzzles forward.
Lucy Dreaming is a wonderful and humorous romp. The presentation is high quality, especially the sound, and nothing feels forced. The characters are likeable and most of the puzzles feel fresh if not particularly taxing. It may not be enough challenge for hardened point and clickers but there is still a great story and some clever puzzles here. If you enjoy these games then definitely check out Lucy Dreaming. Or if you have never played one this is a great place to start as it’s not overwhelming at any point.