“[An] exploration in themes involving deep dreams, liminal spaces, sleep paralysis demons, and much more. Can you collect all [eight] dream crystals and finally wake up? […] Hang out with cats in a relaxing garden temple, mingle with sea creatures in an underwater quarry, or find meaning in a city full of strange people. Everyone has something to say, so meet and greet with every denizen you can!”
For many people, including me, the year 2020 was a surreal roller coaster ride that led from one disaster to the next. Just when you thought you could take a breath for a week, a new nightmare was already waiting. The events of some days were such an illogical mess that there would have been no room for them even in a script for the trashiest disaster movie. And yet, it was reality. Acknowledging this simple fact, as well as constantly re-realizing it, took a lot out of me. For this reason, I see this jam submission called “hypnagogia 催眠術” as the perfect metaphor for that time, as it deals with the titular phenomenon hypnagogia. In simplified terms, it can be understood as “the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep”, as Wikipedia succinctly describes it.
The game primarily implements this theme in its world design. At the beginning, we are on a small island in the middle of nowhere, which is the so-called dream hub. At least that is what the only inhabitant Gogi, a white rabbit, tells us. Gogi is a supporting character who accompanies us on our journey through various dreamscapes and also opens the first of these stages for us. “hypnagogia 催眠術” starts off very harmlessly and in a strange way even beautifully, as we first enter a temple complex run by cat monks. Our task is both simple and difficult at the same time: We have to wake up so that we can progress to the next dream. To do so, we have to explore the unreal places, talk to fantasy creatures, solve simple quests and overcome obstacles.
However, with each new world the mood shifts subtly but steadily into the gloomy. Eventually, the friendly cat monks and helpful ogres have to give way to expressionless mannequins and long-limbed shadows. Whether there is actually a glimmer of hope waiting at the end is something everyone has to judge for themselves. But it surely can be said with certainty that waking up has never been so marvelous before. [PLAY]