Lucy Dreaming is a modern-retro classic. Is that an oxymoron? I cover many point and click adventures – they’re my favourite – but this year’s indie game from Tall Story Games was an absolute treat – not just because of the throwback visuals and hilarious writing, but, in my opinion, it’s a challenging puzzler.
One of my all-time favourite adventures was Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders, so much so that I would mention the LucasArts title at least once a month in my articles. Lucy’s adventure is more of the same, also similar to the excellent Dude, Where Is My Beer? The ‘action’ shares a window with an on-screen selection of verbs, inventory items, and a cheeky little hotspot icon separates them, and you have to hold it briefly to avoid spoiling anything.
The story is about Lucy – an incredibly likeable young girl (the opposite of her twin), who has been plagued with nightmares longer than she can imagine. With help from her father’s hints, she seeks out items in ‘the real world’ to assist her in the dream one, adding an exclusive inventory system that separates the realms. This sounds dark, and possibly a little melancholy, but Lucy Dreaming is far from it.
Lucy Dreaming Review
Undoubtedly the humour in the game is a marvel. There wasn’t one misfire; no eye-rolling or groans – even after a dad-joke-induced laugh-a-thon involving plants made me laugh (and steal a couple to tell my kids). Lucy Dreaming is also an interactive Easter egg: every scene is infused with some point and click in-joke, and even though there are the staple DOTT references, they’re often subtle and would be missed by someone new to the genre, but fellow adventurers will genuinely be in for a treat. More so if you were also a product from the 80s.
Keeping the same scenes from the demo, Lucy’s bedroom has Ludo from Labyrinth (though that’s an assumption, we wouldn’t want any legal issues), Optimus Prime, an old-school 486 worthy of playing Leisure Suit Larry, and a mandatory Guybrush. However, the twist with the full version of Lucy Dreaming is that the puzzles differ. While I loitered around her home a tad longer than I’d have expected, the fresh approach was truly welcome and one of the many reasons this is such a great game: lots of inventory items, multiple verb options, and an active mind.
There aren’t a ton of scenes in the game, but the way the game is designed, you’ll maximise engagement. That’s a weird line, but what I mean is you’ll click EVERYTHING. As mentioned, there are Easter eggs galore, and if you aren’t already admiring the throwback dithering on the sprites and backgrounds, you’ll be interacting with them to see what Lucy has to say next. Hearing a little girl call someone a nob is hilarious and could not be better executed with her vocal talent. Don’t work with animals, children, or your better half – dems da rules, but Emma is perfectly cast as Lucy. Whether Tom (the architect of this wonderful game) had a choice is irrelevant – she really brings out the character, and if you read the text before it’s said, turn your sound off, or skip any dialogue, you’ll miss out. And why on Earth would you have the speakers off? The music throughout is spot-on.
I only recently mentioned how game journalists talk of love letters to a genre. Yes, Lucy Dreaming is kind of like that – it knows the point and click world, how to tell a story, and make an old boy feel young again with all the pop culture references. Me. But this Lucy Dreaming review is a love letter to Tall Story Games. This is a fine example of how one can grow up with a particular genre and introduce others to the world, but more importantly and selfishly, remind us of our first loves (Zak McKraken) and why we were drawn to point and clicks in the first place.
Undoubtedly one of my favourite games of the year, if not point and clicks. This has been well worth following since its announcement, reading through the newsletters and seeing it come to fruition and deliver far beyond expectations. Lucy Dreaming isn’t likely to change your life or fix your gammy leg, but it will sure as hell make it brighter and likely be that pick me up for when you want to have a laugh, test the old grey matter, or point and click at… stuff. Love it, love it, love it.