I played through a small alpha build of this game a few months ago, and now I’m very excited to announce that an early release beta version is available on Steam!
Dreaming Sarah is a single-player, Yume Nikki-esque 2D platformer/adventure/exploration game. You play in the dream world of the eponymous Sarah, who has fallen into a coma. The game’s vague Steam description states that the main goal is to explore Sarah’s dream world in an effort to wake her up.
In this beta build, you start the game right from the title screen – there is no backstory, no tutorial, and basically nothing else to direct you. Fortunately, Dreaming Sarah operates much like any other platformer. I would recommend using a gamepad if you have one. As you start to run around in the beautiful pixilated world of Sarah’s mind, you’re treated to soothing and surreal music that sets the tone for the rest of the game.
The game encourages exploration. You’re first impelled to run around and look at all of the wonderful pixel imagery. Then you discover that the game contains items, and that these items feed into increasingly difficult puzzles: an umbrella allows you to float to previously-unreachable areas, a pair of glasses will allow you to see the unseen. The puzzles are fairly standard for a platformer game, but engaging nonetheless.
Dreaming Sarah shines not because of its ability to provide run-of-the-mill puzzles, though. The world of Sarah’s mind is a jumble of diverse and seemingly-unrelated rooms, denizens, and terrain, ranging from the lush forest that you start in to completely abstracted rooms with floating eyeballs. Just moving from one area to the next and discovering the weird characters and scenery is a delight. If you are an artsy type of person, you also may be able to draw some larger themes or connections out of the puzzles and dialogue, but this isn’t really necessary. When I tried, it was like sucking blood out of a turnip, so I recommend just sitting back and enjoying the relaxing images, dialogue, and puzzles.