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Dare to Dream is an adventure game produced by Epic MegaGames, now known as Epic Games, released in early 1993 for Windows PC. It is the second game designed by Cliff Bleszinski, after The Palace Of Deceit: Dragon's Plight. It supplements adventure-style gaming with graphics, although Dare to Dream relies more heavily on the graphics than its predecessor.
- A 286 or faster processor
- VGA graphics
- Windows 3.x in Standard or Enhanced Mode
- 2 Megabytes RAM
- Hard Disk
- 4 Megabytes RAM
- Windows 3.1 or greater (or Windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions)
- Any Windows-supported sound card
- Life has not been easy for Tyler Norris. The stressed ten year-old boy has to deal with school, his paper route, and the recent loss of his father. Over the past few evenings, he has been having several extremely vivid and detailed dreams, dreams in which he met odd characters and solved many puzzles.
- Tonight, Tyler falls asleep after a particularly bad day -- his report card came. He begins to dream. It starts out as any night before, but suddenly he is falling through a storm to an unknown destination. Tyler lands in a deserted alleyway in an unfamiliar city. He wipes himself off, stands up, and begins to piece together the puzzles that will unlock his happiest and most sinister thoughts, resulting in a confrontation with the evil that lurks in all of us.
The game story is moodier and more involved than Bleszinski’s previous game. Each episode has a supplemental narrative of Tyler’s experience from the point of view of an unnamed child psychologist and his attempt to figure out what the problem is and who 'Christian' is whom Tyler keeps saying in a delirious state is coming to get him. Though the graphics are cartoonish by today’s standards, they are appropriate for the game’s story and atmosphere.
In the first episode, Tyler finds a mysterious key that seems familiar to him, it has a ceramic unicorn attached to the end where you hold the key to turn it, in an extremely lucid dream he is having which is heavily based on the real world but with subtle (if you can call using a fish to unlock a door subtle) inconsistencies. He eventually runs into his friend Terry in the dream in a place that has abruptly become slightly disturbing (it has blue grass and a field of hundreds, if not thousands of people impaled on stakes, via the game's text description of the place and the image presented to the player). The two are surprised to meet each other and agree to call each other after they both wake up to see if they were both really there and then Tyler uses the key on a gate nearby which takes him back to his bedroom.
It is soon revealed in the prologue by the psychologist in episode 2 that this key is an ancient artifact which can unlock the mind of anyone who uses it in any key hole but the downside is that they become trapped in their mind. Episode 2 starts off in the fort Tyler and Terry both hang out in and Terry said he found the same key in the dream and researched it discovering the above information. They decide to try it on a keyhole and lo and behold a portal appears but Terry starts screaming for some reason but it's too late to turn back and Tyler is absorbed into his mind. He then goes through a very cartoonish exaggerated world trying to find the way out of his mind. Eventually he finds out he has to go through the Nightmare to get out of his mind and no one in this part of his mind wants him or anyone else to go near it. In fact two characters set up a road block to it which the player has to figure out how to get rid of. Tyler succeeds in passing the road block and comes to an abrupt end in the cartoonish world of his mind and reaches the entrance to his own personal hell, the Nightmare.
Episode 3 involves another abrupt and radical change in setting with a hellish world (eyes are growing from trees that bleed for example) and Tyler is still trying to get out of his mind. The whole world in this episode is symbolic for everything he hates and his sorrow. It is finally revealed after a long and confusing trek through this episode that Tyler had suppressed all the trauma that had happened to him to the point that he was not affected by it at all, including his father dying whom he was extremely close to, and that Christian was actually the dark side of his personality that had began to try to take over him and developed its own personality from his negative emotions festering deep down inside of him. Tyler almost succumbs to Christian at the very end but Terry suddenly appears and helps him eventually defeat Christian and escape his own mind but Terry gets left behind but subtly reveals Terry was actually the pure side of Tyler's personality. Having finally faced his own trauma and sorrow over events such as his father dying, Tyler finally reconciles with himself and grows stronger inside.
The game screen features three windows simultaneously:
The remote, on the top left, contains buttons with the various game options: save, load, save as, talk and inventory.
The status box, at the bottom, is the text feature of the game, describing the scenery and even providing back story when the player clicks on certain places on the action screen.
At the top right, the action screen is the interactive, graphical portion of the game. Whenever the mouse moves over a hot spot, the cursor changes to reflect the type of action possible. Single-clicking provides a text description in the status box of what an object is and what it might do, or a description of the location the player is about to travel. Double-clicking performs the action, or moves in that direction. Clicking on other parts of the scene where the cursor is normal often provides extra details, such as Tyler’s thoughts, tidbits of back story, narrative action, and sensory descriptions (smells and sounds).
Dare to Dream’s predecessor, The Palace Of Deceit: Dragon's Plight, uses this same window layout and gameplay style. Dare to Dream adds many enhancements, including MIDI music, PC speaker sounds, popup windows, and animations (both sprite and color rotation). There are more supplemental text descriptions to describe the scenes and more narrative action. It also uses fewer compass directions to provide orientation in favor of more natural words (“ahead”, “behind”, “left” and “right”).
The game designers apparently wanted to make a freely explorable game, one without the usual frustrations of other adventure games of the time.
In the words of the HELPME document:
- Dare to Dream is not a typical graphic adventure by ANY means. You cannot "die" or "get stuck" like in some other popular adventures. The creators of Dare have a belief that a player should be rewarded for his curiosity, not thwacked on the head repeatedly. There are only so many times a gamer will be burned to death before he turns off the game and does something else.
- There is no place in Dare to Dream in which you can "get stuck" either. In many other games, you'll find yourself at the end only to discover there was an irretrievable item that you missed 73 screens back. If you think you are at a part in Dare that that happens, you may have overlooked something a few screens back. You don't have to restart your entire quest, just walk back there and get it.
Puzzles are based on inventory with a few pixel-hunting tasks mixed in. Some have absurd solutions, like using a fish’s tail to unlock a door. One of the more Myst-like puzzles is the "Daisy Puzzle" featured in Episode Two. It involves using a written clue at that location to solve the puzzle instead of an inventory item. The two seem unrelated unless the player looks closely at the clue itself.
Descriptions are from the shareware registration window.
Volume One: In a Darkened Room
Tyler is caught in his dream... He discovers something is coming, something terrible, and he must stop it. First, however, he must escape his dream...
(This episode was released as shareware.)
Volume Two: In Search of the Beast
Tyler’s best friend, Terry, calls him over to their fort where Terry is keeping a mysterious key he found—the same key Tyler saw in his dream the night before! Tyler uses this key and it hurls him into his imagination. While there he must search all of his happy thoughts, trying to find a way into the lair of this developing monster. Many characters appear, including BoneHead, CementHead, Omar, and more.
Volume Three: Christian’s Lair
Tyler must delve into his most horrible and sinister thoughts in order to find the evil creature that is plaguing him. The tension builds as you discover the Forest of Agony, the River of Sorrow, and MUCH, MUCH, MORE! The story builds to a climactic conclusion in Christian’s Lair.
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- In episode 2, Tyler’s video game system is the Super Sweeney Entertainment System. ("Features incredible sound, graphics and games.")
- There are advertisements for previous Epic games in episodes 1 and 2, including Zone 66, Solar Winds, Jill of the Jungle and an unclickable sign reading “Dragon’s Plight”.