Commodore User1st December 1988
Published in Commodore User #64
There are monsters in your dreams, and each night you awake in a sweat, unable to recall what had terrorised you. Your brother complains your screams are ruining his sleep. So you seek the help of a psychiatrist, who gives you a glass of something to drink, and tells you to go home and sleep it off.
The game starts in your bedroom, and at first sight the graphics disappoint. The picture you see if a drab black and white digitised photo, enlivened only by a poster of a scantily clad female adorning the wall. Your house, as you wander around it, is equally drab.
You eventually decide to follow the advice you were given, and sleep. Suddenly, your bedroom is transformed, the misty grey pictures crystallising with colour, and now, the way out leads not to the landing, but to a weaving blue pathway suspended in space...
Entering the gate at the far end of the path, takes you into the square of a strange and fantastic city. Fancying a drink, you try to pop into the Rigor Mortis Bar ("Come on inside and get stiff" is its slogan) but, before you can embark on this part of your dream, you must have an ID card. A foxy-looking tout has a jacket lined with ID cards, and here's where all the bureaucracy you encountered if you played Infocom's Stationfall will stand you in good stead - he needs a form 69C-12B before he will sell you one!
Over the road, then, to the Department of Information building, to get hold of the appropriate form. But don't think it will be that easy! "Ask officer S3R-D in room N4R-E", suggests the clerk on the reception desk, starting you off on a merry chase through the building, being referred from one officer to another.
So the dream continues, taking you to an oriental palace, a castle in the clouds, and an amusement park, among other places. But should you decide you've had enough, and you want to go back to bed, you'll find a huge, ugly monster blocking the pathway to your door.
Dream Zone is an icon-driven adventure, with direction icons to the right of the picture, and command verbs in a bar directly under the picture. Clicking on a direction will move you, whilst clicking on a verb, followed by a moveable object or part of the picture area, will build a text command in the input area, which will be executed with a click on the text message area directly above it. Commands can also be typed in via the keyboard.
The menu bar at the top offers pull-down menus for facilities to save and load game positions, turn sound on and off (there is suitably moody music throughout the game), quit, new game and text coloration.
Certainly at the beginning of the game, the problems are not particularly obvious. You can get to sleep easily enough, only to discover shortly afterwards that there must be essential objects that you have left behind in the house. Before long, I realised that I had to go to the bathroom, but I couldn't find it anywhere! It turned out that it was not off the landing, where I had spent half an hour searching for it, but was en suite to my bedroom. Here, then, is my biggest, and possibly only criticism of the game - no exits are listed on the screen, and even the hint-map that comes in the package didn't show it!
However, once you get used to the command system, and familiar with the way the game plays, it's brilliant!