Yume Nikki (jap. Dream Diary) is an exploration-based game made with RPG Maker. The gameplay consists of exploring the dreams of a young girl, Madotsuki.
The game begins in Madotsuki's room, with little to do except for going to bed. Once Madotsuki goes to sleep, she ends up in her "dream world". It is made up of many areas connected with doors and teleporters, filled with surreal, unsettling imagery, strange landscapes and bizarre creatures, most of them completely harmless. The areas are quite diverse, and reaching some of them requires lots of searching.
The main objective of the game is to find and collect 24 "effects", objects which can be obtained by talking to the strange dream denizens. Each "effect" gives some ability, usually a purely cosmetic one - e.g. "long hair" turns Madotsuki's hair long, "towel" wraps her in a towel (and gives her the ability to sneeze cutely), and "knife" allows her to kill creatures.
Madotsuki can pinch her cheek at any time to wake up and go back to her room, where she can write an entry in her dream diary (a way to save the game) before going back to sleep.
- ゆめにっき - Japanese spelling
Credits (Windows version)
Average score: 85% (based on 4 ratings)
Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 11 ratings with 1 reviews)
I like the back-story behind this game a lot: From what I heard, this game was made by a single person who simply decided to sit down and make something intriguing out of one of the simplest engines. As a person who works with the same software, it's really encouraging to play a game like Yume Nikki, one that has build up a respectable fan-base, despite its simple nature.
Yume Nikki is very easy to describe, it's an exploration game in which you enter various surreal dreams. Surrealism is the main theme of this game and you are bound to run into a lot of fascinating, scary and hilarious scenarios as you venture through this game. Exploration is probably the best way to go with the surrealism and the producer behind this game knew that. That is why there are many different dreams, each with their own style and ideas.
I also like how Yume Nikki is utterly and completely devoted to the theme of surrealism, with which I mean that the game makes sure everything it contains fits. Not just the scenery is weird, the character models, sound-effects, level-design and even the menus are strange. As I played through this title, I was constantly surprised when I noticed something new, and quite often it would be something that had been there all along, but I just didn't notice it before.
The reason for why exploration is the best way to go with a surreal game, is because surrealism is specifically made to draw attention and captivate players. If you'd add surreal elements to a shooter, the player would be more enticed to explore those elements than they would be to shoot enemies in the face. In this example, the shooting mechanics would literally become an annoyance to the player. Yume Nikki has no real goal or obstacles, you can collect a few items that have silly effects on your character and there are some enemies, but it all sticks to the main theme and doesn't distract. In fact, the items are more of a reward for exploring than anything else.
To finish this part of the review off, I'd like to take some more time to praise the way the developer used the RPG Maker engine. It's really hard to get something amazing done in this engine, especially since it mostly neglects exploring and puzzling for the combat. However, Yume Nikki goes all out, which is most obvious in the interface, as it looks downright gorgeous. I also have no idea how he did it, but the developer actually programmed other buttons into the engine, whereas it normally responds only to the arrow keys and Z and X.
There is only one problem I have with the exploring in this game and that is the fact that areas loop as long you don't find the right path. Most areas have one or two precise ways you can go in and a few fields too far to the other side will just result in you falling in a trap. I lost count of how many hours I walked around a lamppost-filled world, looking for the precise direction the game wanted me to go in before I could leave.
It's also a shame that most of the scenery is repeated constantly, this is however the fault of the engine. RPG Maker uses tilesets with which the user can create various areas, however: each map can only use one of many tilesets and everything outside that tileset is unusable. If you take an ice-tileset for example, you can't transit to a tundra environment within the same map, you'd need to make an exit that leads to a map with a tundra-tileset. Because of this limitation, you will run into the same few objects over and over again, unless you find a door to another area.
I am also not really fond of the fact that all dreams are connected to one another. At first it seemed like there were many dreams to visit, which also meant lots of content. I however soon discovered that going through a few doors in one world, will eventually lead you to another one, which instantly knocks two dreams off the list, instead of just one. I would really have preferred it if each dream kept going deeper and deeper, instead of left and right.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Yume Nikki is a very interesting experience. It's not necessarily a classic and there is little to no gameplay to speak off, but it still stands out as been one of the rare games that completely embraces surrealism. As a fan of this theme, I found it to be incredibly satisfying to spend an hour or two exploring the strange dreams that this game contains once a week.
If you want to experience something completely unique or find yourself looking for something worthwhile to play on a $0 budget, then this is definitely worth a look. The RPG Maker community is also likely going to like this title, due to the way it absolutely masters the many functions of the engine. However: if you really can't stand exploration or you need a more action-driven reason to play a game, then this might not be the game for you.
Windows · by Asinine (957) · 2012
- An official manga series based on the game was serialized in the web manga magazine Manga Life Win+ between May 2013 and March 2014. It was written by the composer Machigerita and drawn by the artist Hitoshi Tomizawa.
- A light novel, titled Yume Nikki: Anata no Yume ni Watashi wa Inai ("I Am Not in Your Dream"), was published in August 2013. It was written by the novelist Akira and illustrated by Ako Arisaka.
Related Sites +
Indie Games: The Weblog: Freeware Game Pick: Yume Nikki (Kikiyama)
A post about the game at indiegames.com.
Official website (Japanese).
A Yume Nikki fansite.
TVTropes.org: Yume Nikki
A description of the game, and a download link for the English version.
An imageboard dedicated to the game.
Wikipedia: <em>Yume Nikki</em>
A general article about the game in the open encyclopedia.
Yume Nikki Wiki
A collaborative knowledge base about the game.
- MobyGames ID: 44624
- Steam App: 650700
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Game added by Havoc Crow.
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Additional contributors: Zeppin.
Game added January 8th, 2010. Last modified September 28th, 2023.