“One Dreamer: Prologue” by Gareth Ffoulkes, Ben Quinn, Johannes Johansson, Yloisa P., Nathan Sharp, Elsie Lovelock, Lizzie Ray, Kirsten Candelore, Octo, Lizzie Freeman, Kurt Ramjan, Mari Starkiller, Stacy GeekRemixaALot, DontWatchMePlay, Dalfairy, Brian Long, Jack Hawkins & Dottovu.
“[This is] the story of a failed [virtual reality] game developer who inadvertently inspired two young kids to follow in his footsteps. Program objects, solve coding puzzles and discover the reason why Frank became a game [developer in the first place.]”
“One Dreamer: Prologue” acts a promotion for the upcoming game “One Dreamer”, but it may not act as the first real chapter of the title – it “can be played as a short, conclusive story on its own”, as Gareth Ffoulkes states. And indeed I must say that this story-driven love child of the programming game and adventure genre is quite an experience on many levels for itself. Audiovisually, as it features wonderful pixel art, a suiting soundtrack and a wide cast of amazing voice actors as well as voice actresses, that fill not only the main characters with life, but also each non-player character and even an arcade cabinet.
Gameplay-wise “One Dreamer: Prologue” shines with its programming puzzles, which follow an intuitive design, but to properly explain what I mean by that, a quick look into the plot is necessary. We play as Frank, one of two aspiring game developers, who both want to honor make a game in honor of their personal hero Jumbo. Jumbo invented a laterly cancelled virtual reality game called “IsekaiVR”, of which Frank and his friend Luna were very fond, so they also wanted to create such a title. The youngsters get onto it and develop a prototype, but they are not sure what to call it: Luna wants the game to be called “LlamaVR”, while Frank is in favor of “ProxyLIFE”.
To settle this problem, Frank challenges Luna to a “P/\DDLE” match, which is simply a fancy version of “Pong”, inside their game world. Suddenly Luna disappears and Frank must find her, so that they can finally make a decision. However, sudden paths are blocked in the world, but as it is a virtual world which Frank created, he can also change it. That gets done by solving programming puzzles, which are based on pseudocode and thereby fairly easy to understand, even for people who do not code at all. For example, you can interact with a roller door and see that the variable “state” has the value “close”, but you want to open it, so what do you do? Exactly, you give it the value “open”. Of course there are some more challenging riddles, but overall I think they are managable to solve for anybody. This intuitive puzzle design in combination with a point and click based interface makes “One Dreamer: Prologue” to a real delight.
But what is also so special about this game is the final scene, as it explains so much about the storyline and the background of each character in just some seconds. It is a bit of a tearjerker, a bittersweet end for a promising beginning. Do not worry, I will not spoil it to you – that is now for you alone to experience.