Lucy Dreaming

LucasArt is one of my favourite companies ever due to its humorous and engaging point-and-clicks. There is beauty in how thoroughly they handled this genre specifically and evolved it to make it accessible while still providing good challenges. Because of this, multiple indie developers attempt to create homages to this form of quality with their own flavours mixed in. One such project is Lucy Dreaming, which even Ron Gilbert was excited about! After a great demo, I too could not wait to give this one a go!

Whimsical consciousness

As soon as you start this adventure, you will meet Lucy falling through the sky due to yet again struggling with a nightmare. This has continued for a while and she understandably wishes to get them under control by any means necessary. Luckily, her dad has acquired a book regarding such issues, which suggests making a dream box! She gets right onto this task, but what starts out as a simple setup eventually includes a murder mystery in the real world too.

Even with how these two plots will correlate towards the end for a dark twist, this game does not shy away from wanting to humour the player first and foremost. There are cute references to older gems of the genre, tons of jokes that are at least worth a chuckle, and surreal elements that are admirable. I believe the best example of this is when you are at a carnivore stand-up show with your pessimistic teddy, as you get various takes on comedy that feel appropriate yet diverse.

The worlds you will visit while asleep contain relations to the one in real life, but never in a deep manner. It is rather a strange mix of thoughts and observations from her daily events, providing a clear tone of wanting to have fun with the imaginative ideas presented. This can even be seen in the general cast, as all are either there as an amusing stereotype or simply for a punchline. Nothing comes off as poor taste and I found myself continually smiling, especially from the charming little town you live in.

Furthermore, Lucy’s comments on everything are wonderful for giving insights into what this small metropolis has to offer and her own personality. She might seem quite oblivious on the occasion, but it is also an aspect of her that I adore alongside her curiosity for the unknown. There is even some subtle lore to encounter, such as the librarian’s secret past or even your own family’s history, which is neat to make this tiny village come to life!

Although, the murder mystery is underplayed with barely any breadcrumbs to follow and very few suspects until the very last portion of the adventure. I will also say that due to the dreams not being linked through a profound connection, they can feel random besides the locations themselves which will make sense towards the finale. There is also a ton of elaboration of what actually went down that is sadly poorly executed, as it is being provided through cutscenes and not by your own discoveries.

Yet, while the structure can be uneven, it could also be argued this is through a child’s perspective where every day is new and not completely attached to the past. It is just that the two plots are relegated to one specific event long ago, making this clumsily put together. Thankfully, the humour and charm kept me invested, with the ending being a hilarious and shocking twist that I could not stop gawking at. Maybe a bit of a bumpy ride, but an exciting one nonetheless.

Story Score: 7.5/10

Logic in surrealism

Taking on the point-and-click setup, Lucy Dreaming is all about various puzzles to tackle. Be it literal ones like deciphering codes, thinking outside of the box, or putting pieces together, there is a good diversity of types to make sure you pay attention. As the young girl, you have commands in the form of look at, pick up, talk to, and use. Scrolling through them is straightforward, with your inventory always being on screen for easy combinations or utilisations of any knickknacks you took.

One fascinating concept is highlighting hotspots. While it is nothing new to clearly showcase what you can interact with for this genre, this title considers this as a hint system. At first, I found it strange due to the number of things to click on, but there is never a point where you have to go pixel-hunting! Because of this, I saw this as the game gently nudging me into exploring thoroughly on my own and being a kleptomaniac, which I truly appreciate.

What also helps in this case, are the environments themselves. Each area is memorable and small to make possible actions comprehensible, with a map letting you leisurely jump between places. It is also clever how Lucy herself will allude to how to solve a puzzle by using wordplay whenever examining a problem. Not to mention, there is a to-do list in case you forget what your main goals are, without spoiling how to achieve them.

My favourite part though is how the real world can affect the dreams through either the box or other elements around the protagonist. Changing the wind, finding the right notes to play, and more are all done in her awoken state, which is a smart setup. None contains moon logic either, as the brainteasers are surreal yet make sense once you read between the spoken lines and pay attention. A great example was when I was taught how to make proper tea through unique visual indications.

Regrettably, I cannot say that the difficulty curve was consistently solid. There were numerous times I got stumped hard only to be presented with an easier puzzle that was straightforward in comparison. One such incident is when I had to go on a trading quest that basically felt like a padded journey, before taking on something that actually required me to use my noggin. It is also tedious to jump between dreams, as it is not made initially clear that you should revisit old ones and this activity requires multiple item combinations that become monotonous.

Though the worst issue is whenever an action cannot be done unless your avatar knows a reason to do so, such as picking up a crucial trinket. I knew why I wanted to, but due to me not examining as the little girl, she would not and this is an annoying inclusion for a title all about being a kleptomaniac. This was not made any better when things would change throughout the game, forcing you to scour a ton of places for one singular knickknack that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

Luckily, I would say I had an overall good time thanks to the creative puzzles, like when I had to make a monster look cool by using science. It is still an uneven journey and you might end up getting unfairly stuck due to someone being ignorant, but I usually felt accomplished for finding the answers to any predicament. With a pen and paper on standby, this felt like a nice return to form, despite being rough around the edges.

Gameplay Score: 6/10

Dark pixels

Utilising traditional pixels, Lucy Dreaming looks gorgeous with a number of details to make any scenery captivating. Whether it is your own shelves with clever nods or the charity shop with odd wares, there is always something to examine due to the bizarre elements they hold. It is here I do want to keep spoilers to a minimum, but just say that this makes for a surreal yet believable place to explore!

Additionally, the smooth animations are incredible, such as the grass waving with the wind or the characters walking around. It is easy to tell that it was all made with passion, particularly showcased in the adorably strange dreams, with my favourite being the baking town full of trolls that would feel right at home in a Roal Dahl story. However, I do question the rather grim colour palette. While it does contain a fine assortment of brighter ones too, I wonder if a more vibrant setup would work better similarly to other British mystery tales and not make the visuals so depressive. This is not meant as a criticism since the graphics still convey an unforgettable style, but rather as a curiosity due to it contrasting with the adventure’s general lighthearted humour.

Frankly, this is all about taste and despite that I might have enjoyed a different approach, I cannot act like this is any less beautiful to look at. I believe this can also be said for the music, as it is filled with jazz that would fit perfectly in a noir novel. There are some alternatives like the echoed tones to create suspense or the organ within a church, but all of the melodies are solid for setting distinct moods for each event or location present. Regrettably, they are not memorable as they either lack highlighted notes or diversity, with the exception of the catchy main theme.

It is still a pleasant soundtrack overall and you can even change between AdLib and Roland MT-32 whenever you want to, which is a magnificent feature. Additionally, the rest of the audio is simply splendid to make any action become stronger through their cues. Yet, the best part is the British voice actors! The stuttering father showcasing distress, the passive-aggressive shopkeeper, and many more offer superb directions in order to convey endearing and clear personalities.

Presentation Score: 8/10

Who does not love badges?

Your cute rucksack functions as an achievement screen where badges are awarded for doing secret tasks. These are usually acquired by making bizarre discoveries or even solving enigmas, adding some extra meat to the exploration. None of these objectives is grand or adds a big amount of playtime, but are still amusing activities. Only one took an aeon to finish and made me absolutely hate any 3X3X3 cubes for five days straight.

Extra Score: 7/10


Lucy Dreaming is a game that is oozing with charm, though lacks an adequate structure in its plot and puzzles. This can make it occasionally falter, but there are some creative brainteasers to take on, the humour never fails to make me smile, and the presentation provides gorgeous absurdities. I believe this can be similar to a nice cup of tea. Sure, it might not be anything spectacular and there is a risk of burning yourself, but it is still cosy and delightful.


Published by Slionr

A guy who likes to talk about video games and loves tabletop gaming. You can always follow me on twitter: @GSlionr

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