DreamWeb

Moby ID: 1905
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Ryan, a bartender from a dystopian future can't sleep peacefully for months. His nights are sequences of nightmares and strange dreams, days with frequent black-outs with strange visions, until one night a figure in monk attire appears to him, and tells him the story of the seven evil ones, uniting to destroy to Dreamweb, the only barrier between the world and darkness. The monk makes a proposition: Ryan becomes the "deliverer": the one who would keep the Dreamweb safe by killing those who try to destroy it.

Descending into paranoia and just wanting dreams to stop, Ryan accepts the mission, then wakes up in a puddle of cold sweat, next to his beloved girlfriend in her house, and late for work. Again.

DreamWeb is a top-down adventure game set in a gritty futuristic dystopian city. Each location takes only a small portion of the screen without panning (except an optional small zoom window in the corner that follows the cursor), with the player interacting with objects and people by simply clicking them. Ryan has a limited inventory space, and as a lot of objects can be picked up (many without any use), the player must rationalize what might be useful and what just serves as filler.

Dialogue is straightforward, with no options, but still required to advance in the game (to find new locations, for instance). In situations where many adventure games usually feature an indirect approach to solve a problem, Ryan often faces himself with situations where it's "killed or be killed", which result in deaths (sometimes of innocents). The game also contains a few scenes with graphically explicit sexual situations.

The original release of the game included Diary Of a (Mad?) Man, a 40-page diary telling the descent of Ryan into madness, or his destiny, written by Stephen Marley, providing a complete background to the events leading to the start of the game.

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Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

39 People · View all

Music
Director
Graphics / Artwork
Acting / Voiceovers
Recorded at
  • Videosonix Ltd. Sound Studio; Camden - London
Post-production by
  • Reflex Interactive
Documentation
Sound
Spanish translation
German Actors / Voiceovers
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 73% (based on 34 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 83 ratings with 8 reviews)

One of the best atmospheric cyberpunk games ever released

The Good
I enjoyed so much this game. I love cyberpunk movies, novels and atmosphere in general: this game IS the core of cyberpunk. Violence, a dirty world, neverending rainy days, dark atmosphere and music are some of the good things I can mention about Dreamweb. Music is also very well composed and it fits exactly in a game like this. Do not play without a soundcard! As an adventure it has a good plot, never boring. You can pick up quite everything and operate many of the thing you see on you monitor. For example.. you can switch on and off the fan in your girlfriend's room, you can even light and smoke cigarettes.

The Bad
The worst thing about Dreamweb is its difficulty. As I said before, you can get many objects and you have a wide range of thing you can do... so... when you're stuck and you begin to try every combination object-object... ouch.. there's a plenty of choices...

The Bottom Line
Every cyberpunk lover must try this game. Try not to read the walkthoughs... if you're able!

DOS · by Emanuele Ravasi (15) · 2000

Edgy, violent, gritty, confusing, moody... that's Dreamweb for you folks.

The Good
Ah... the infamous Dreamweb, a dark and gritty cyberpunk adventure game known for it's violent and sexually charged content. The game itself is definetively not as "disturbing" as some may lead you to believe, but it's still pretty powerful and makes for one very entertaining adventure game.

First of all you have the backbone of every adventure game: the story. In Dreamweb you play this lowly bartender Ryan who somehow has this psychic link to a group of guardians of some sort that watch over the Dreamweb. The Dreamweb is, to put it shortly, the thing that keeps us all alive and allows us to continue our putrid cyberpunkish lives, and some individuals have been syphoning it's power in an attempt to evolve into some sort of mystical form. These guys will destroy the Dreamweb if left unchecked so it's your job as appointed by these guardian dudes to go forth and kick ass in the name of the Dreamweb. And this is where the game starts to distances itself from the "average" adventure games, your objective in the game is quite simply to go and kill these guys, and the puzzles for the game all revolve around this sort of things, for instance: you'll have to journey to seedy bars to meet a gundealer and get yourself a gun, break into a penthouse or tv station to carry out a murder, etc... The plot will continue to move forward with each killing and eventually end up with an-all out battle against the head psycho behind everything and ultimately resolve itself with a very surprising (or not so really if you consider the game) ending, but the storyline makes the right decision and doesn't turn the whole affair into some heroic bullshit, instead each one of your actions takes a backseat to the grinding and all-encompassing reality of the gameworld never glorifying you or your quest. Essentially the whole game follows a very "zen" mentallity with every action leading you to the next logical solution, so there are few surprises in store for the storyline, as I mentioned the main attraction for the game is that of seeing the world that revolves around this story. Each subsequent murder will have it's consequences in the "real" world, and as you evade the cops and kiss your girlfriend goodnight you'll get to see the nice gameworld crafted by the guys at Empire much more as an actual character and the true protagonist of Dreamweb than Ryan or any of the other characters that populate it.

Truly these guys understand what Cyberpunk is all about, the game feels very very very close to the idea one gets of the world when reading Gibson novels, you know, that of a world that has attained near technological perfection, but that perfection itself has also corroded the very fabric of human nature and left the land with as much giant skycrapers as well as hollow industrial wastelands and murky gettos. Yeah, you get all that in Dreamweb. From the carefully constructed gameworld that merges giant and antiseptyc corporate structures with the rundown hotels and shady bars left behind in the wake of the information revolution, to the eternal rainy nights that plague the city and it's fusion of blocky gray architecture and neon signs.

Of course, no praise of Dreamweb's world would be complete without a mention to the excellent synthetized music. The collection of moody sounds and eery Vangelis-like cues bring the world alive and almost make you feel like watching Blade Runner all over again, except on Dreamweb somehow it sounds even more apocalyptic and loses that saxophoned "Noir" vibe you got on Blade Runner.

Oh yeah, and you also have some brutal (if pixelated) violence to enhance the "in yo face" attitude and some of the first actual sexual content in a videogame (i´m talking about fornication and actual genitals here, not just some sexy remarks and bouncing boobies) product of that wave of "adult-ness" that surfaced with the multimedia revolution. Sure, for the most part it's just there for shock effect, but it's still another exciting part of the dark world of Dreamweb that paints it as even more decadent and disturbing.

The Bad
The ambience in Dreamweb is also enhaced by the fact that there's lots of stuff you can interact with, from your computer to the lightswitch in the hotel room, and you can pick up everything from that rusty pipe over there to that bible or soda can in the floor. Cool isn't it? Well unfortunately this doesn't work in the context of an adventure game, because the end result is that you have a gazillion red herrings that have absolutely no use whatsoever. Furthermore the puzzles themselves are not always clear (you'll be surprised how often the "solution" to a puzzle is just shooting someone's ass) and if you mix both factors you get a rather confusing game that isn't really hard or long, but is... confusing!

Besides why the waste of time and space in drawing all those soda cans if they have no use in the game?? tsk, tsk...

Anyway, save for that there's the fact that the graphics aren't that nice really. You have a top-down perspective which I believe works for the game since it places the spotlight in the gameworld instead of the characters (and we know which one of the two is the star here), but the play area is horribly small, and the addition of a "zoom" window is just a sorry excuse to cover the fact that the play area is horribly small and pixellated. Furthermore the proportions for the characters don't always match up and they can end up feeling rather amateurish and cartoony, just look at the screenshot of the pool in the penthouse suite to see what I mean.

The Bottom Line
Despite some graphical problems and some confusing adventure design this is one hell of an experience. Truly one of those oddball "experimental" adventure games like Loom or Bad Mojo that just has to be played for the sole purpose of soaking in on all of it's vibes.

DOS · by Zovni (10503) · 2003

A cyberpunk highlight in the history of adventure games

The Good
The Dreamweb.

A massive pool of pure energy generated by the thoughts and dreams of human beings. The Dreamweb is perfectly neutral, remaining on a constant balance between good and evil, and for it not to break apart, it must be kept this way. It is watched over by guardians old as time itself. They have become aware of 7 humans on earth who has formed an alliance. These 7 different people, counting such personas as a rock star, a military general, a priest, a powerful business man and a serial killer are all "gifted". Together, with their powers united and focused, they plan to unbalance the Dreamweb and exploit its power for their own sinister purposes. They must be stopped.

Enter Ryan.

A college dropout, who makes a living as a bartender in a grim future metropolis. Besides, his girlfriend Eden and his best friend Louis, Ryan has no real purpose in life. He has been haunted by dreams of the Dreamweb and of murder. He often finds himself on the brink of insanity. But this is who you are. Selected by the guardians you must destroy the 7 thus neutralizing the Dreamweb and saving the world from an apocalyptic future.

As many other reviewers has pointed out, this game is pure cyberpunk atmosphere! Once you find yourself in the world of Dreamweb, it's very hard to let go. The whole game has an amazing depth to it, with plenty of things to do and explore. Things such as entering door codes and the ability to use network computers (where you can read news, weather reports etc) just adds up to the level of immersion that you will eventually find yourself in. This is not your ordinary adventure game, this is a lot more violent, something which at the time made it so unique that you would get stuck, simply because you sometimes tried to solve puzzles in a pacifistic manner, rather than using brute force. However, this is just another reason why Dreamweb is so good, because you really have to set yourself into the mind of Ryan, who at all costs must save the world. The puzzles range between the classic adventure style and the aforementioned more obscure psycho mindset.

Technically, the game is build up in a perhaps bit unusual way for an adventure game, however it works, and the magnifying feature helps a lot. The graphics are pretty standard for its time, but the colours in the game all have this sort of dark shade to them, that works into the overall ambience. One of my favorite things in Dreamweb is undoubtedly the music, mainly consisting of looped electronic/ambient in WAV/VOC quality. From the Akira inspired intro, to the electro-dub music in Louis' appartment, the music adds a ton to the game and wouldn't be the same without it. However, what really carries Dreamweb is the fantastic story, and it is a thrill to see it unfold as you progress in the game. The ending is also one of the best and most original I've ever seen, and is just another area where it sets itself apart from other games of its kind.

The Bad
One of the obvious things in Dreamweb that can be frustrating is the object handling. As many has already pointed out, you can pick up just about every object you come across in the game. You can spend hours trying to combine various objects with each other, often in vain. This is one of the downsides of a game as interactive as Dreamweb. Another thing I miss in Dreamweb is character interaction. As good as Ryan works, I would really have loved to see some more interaction with other characters. Most characters you come across in the game, are either unwilling to talk or very hesitant to do so, and while this sort of cynic antisocial attitude blends in good with the dystopian setting, I wouldn't have minded to come across some interesting characters with their own personal motivations.

The Bottom Line
Simply put, one of the most eminent cyberpunk games released to date. This is a game that deserves to be played even today.

DOS · by Apogee IV (2275) · 2005

[ View all 8 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Release in the US Edwin Drost (9215) Jun 17, 2017
Let's Play! Dreamweb Silver Spook Sep 14, 2015
Freeware release fooziex (2908) Mar 11, 2013

Trivia

Censored version

In some countries, a "censored" CD version was released. One of the slight changes made was the assassination of David Crane. In the floppy and uncensored CD versions of the game, he is naked and having sex with a woman. In the censored CD version, however, he is wearing shorts.

Controversy

Make no mistake, this game is violent. It also became the focus of attention in '94 because it contained a single sex scene. It was banned for supposed 'sexualised violence' in Australia.

Freeware release

On October 21, 2012 the game was released as freeware. The floppy version and six different CD versions (UK, US, French, German, Italian, Spanish) are available for download on the ScummVM website.

Manual

Dreamweb came with a manual called Diary of a (Mad?) Man including a diary with the thoughts and rantings of Ryan, the character you play. The diary also plays an important role in completion of the game since there are vital hints in it. As of February 2021, both the game's manual and the diary are available from ScummVM as HTML files (along with the game's free download) and, separately, as low- and high-definition PDF scans.

References

  • The second person you have to kill is called Sterling. Bruce Sterling is one of the most famous cyberpunk novel writers.
  • The number of Louis' apartment is 42, taken from Douglas Adams' classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Eden's personal notepad is made by a company called "HAL", an obvious nod to Kubrick and Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Soundtrack

An audio CD with the soundtrack was released in 95. It contains ten tracks, remixes, based on MODs, which were used in game.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) –#12 Worst Back Story of All Time

Information also contributed by Apogee IV, Banjo, Emanuele Ravasi, Jaromir Krol, Jeanne and Virgil

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  • MobyGames ID: 1905
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Soulbreather.

Amiga added by EboMike.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, fooziex, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, barthon.

Game added July 11, 2000. Last modified February 12, 2024.