When creating a mystery game, the hardest thing to do is making the puzzles not only challenging, but creative enough into driving the player solving them. More than one gamer has quit a game because they ran into one puzzle that was too hard to solve or just plain boring. Ahnayro: The Dream World is one of the most challenging puzzle games I have ever played while also being one of the most brilliant and addicting ones. You are tasked with entering people’s dreaming using an “artifact” where you must solve the meaning behind the dreams. Each dream has a part of the overall theme you must solve (even having dreams within dreams) that lead to clues that allow you to find out the meaning. This in turn unlocks more of the artifact’s pathways which open more dreams that all seem to indicate some big mystery that you are tasked to solve.
The game was developed by Alice & Smith, who were the team behind The Secret World Alternate Reality Games. In those games, you were tasked to find clues in the game and research them online in the real world to find a pathway of clues that would lead to the answer in the game. This same gameplay experience returns in Ahnayro. When you enter a dream, you find clues such as pictures, numbers, letters, or other hints that center around one word. At the same time, a narrator gives you the details of what happens in that part of the dream your focused on, providing themes and symbolism. Afterwards, you access the Sigil, a tool filled with various letters (sometimes numbers) that you much click in the right order to spell out the word the represents the dream.
The real experience comes in researching online on the internet. You are even given a link to the internet in the game to help you find sites and sources that might hold the answer. You must research the clues, and try to find the connection between each of them, before pressing the right words to spell the answer. You really should think hard and look carefully between the similarities while also seeing the connections they have with each other. You are allowed multiple times to answer, but there is a limited amount of hints the game gives you each day. After you exhaust them, you wait for next night to pass for more hints. It’s important to write the hints down as they will disappear the next morning.
When you finally solve a piece of the puzzle, you’ll end up feeling proud of yourself and challenged to continue. This is one of the game’s best strengths. You feel accomplished in your research, furthering your drive to prove yourself by taking on harder challenges. It feels even better if you managed to answer without using any of the hints provided. The answers range from a whole list of topics from famous moments in history, places, medical terms, psychology, famous printed media, historical people, and more. You’ll end up learning a few things while you research, which is bonus points to a game that gives a learning curve to a player. Once each piece of the puzzle is solved, you are tasked to solve the final puzzle of the dream by centering around its theme. Once this is accomplished, more dreams are unlocked as well as hidden messages and links to various websites online that might provide future clues. The dreams and clues are all linked together, but you must advance to proceed to the final answer and unlock the secrets of the artifact.
The music is very calming and even hypnotic at times. You feel as if you enter a mysterious world which fits in with the narrative of entering a person’s dreams. The only downside is that the music might be distracting when you’re doing research so you might want to silence it if it gets bothersome. The art is a combination of realistic images with shadowy placement. It might look at first like it was all cropped together from various photos and images, but they blended it in with various colors to make it look dream like. It’s nothing too life like, but it does fit the narrative of the game. Speaking of narrative, the stories that are told in the dream are very well written, providing engaging out looks around certain realistic themes like depression, fear, loss, and loneliness. Most of these dreams aren’t happy, but perhaps that’s the angle they were going with.
Ahnayro: The Dream World provides a means to combine the game’s world with the real world. It’s very challenging and pushes gamers into solving its mysteries out of a combination of desire and intrigue.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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