Ah, the mixed-bag that is edgy software...
The story was really intense. If there's one thing to love about the loosening of content in games, it's that it allows designers to come up with concepts that may draw the player deeper into the story. Here, a young man is charged with the task of saving the world by destroying seven powerful figures bent on world domination. What's really different is a total lack of glorification in the act of slaying them; the line between heroism and murder is completely blurred. What would otherwise be a Matrixy tale of a sci-fi Robin Hood gives way to a spectacle that at once fascinates and horrifies. This is gritty. This is necessary. This is storytelling from a really underappreciated angle. Also, the emphasis on adventure over action is good to my opinion. The designers obviously tried to make a living, breathing world akin to the Ultima series, and in certain areas they succeed brilliantly. The constant downpour, background noises, and extra newscasts you can pull up through the internet on this game are all atmospheric gold.
Unfortunately, the same advantages are also pitfalls. For every innovation in atmosphere that works, there's something that falls flat. Too many objects can be picked up, ala Ultima. This wouldn't be bad if not for the fact that in Dreamweb, it's really hard to tell what will or will not come in handy later. Also, certain items could be used as substitutes in puzzles, but the game won't let you make these handy substitutions. The second major gripe is once again the adult content. It seems that once developers get the greenlight to use racy material in a game, they have a tendancy to overdo it. I really don't care what people put on the screen, but it does tend to cheapen the experience when something overly raunchy or sexy gets put in just for the shock effect. Point in case, on the way to the first murder you have to pry a door open with an axe. In the room beyond you come upon two guards, and with no time to draw your gun you must bury the axe in the first one's chest. Inventive. Cinematic. I fully accepted the resultant gore. Now, in the NEXT room you find your target doing an extremely pixellated version of the Virtual Nasty. Okay, the guy was already marked as a decadent rock star, we know already! Were these guys afraid they'd lose our attention if they didn't top off the axe thing? Here is a very good example of that fine line and how to leap over it with gusto. The final gripe; The ending. Sure, I was expecting something dark, but at least give us more of an explanation! There are several loose ends flapping about here, and without a sequel this just aggravates.
The Bottom Line
Here is a game of actual substance. Trust me, it's there. Just look past the "Hey ma, we got ADULT CONTENT!" typicality of the material.