Yume Nikki (ゆめにっき, lit. Dream Diary) is a 2005 independently produced adventure game by homebrew Japanese developer Kikiyama. The game was created using RPG Maker, but has no role-playing game (RPG) elements. The game is currently in version 0.10.
Players explore the dreams of the fictional character Madotsuki (窓付き, lit. window). It is through this that the player is able to view scenes that are recognized as being genuinely disturbing at times, such as being swallowed by a large red sewer-creature, meeting a disembodied head character known only as Uboa (who then transports the player to an endless, repeating stretch of map) and a full-screen rotating image of a girl with five arms.
Originally a little-known game that became popular on the Japanese forum 2ch, the English version followed an explosion of popularity among English-speaking players, with its cultural impact among fans gradually increasing.
Players begin the game as a female hikikomori named Madotsuki, at home in her apartment, the only area she can explore when awake. Though the apartment has a balcony, attempting to open the door to the outside world results in Madotsuki simply shaking her head. Her only means of entertainment are a television, which shows a simple testcard when interacted with, and a Famicom-style game console with the game 'Nasu' (Eggplant), "the most depressingly futile minigame ever made." There is also a writing desk which the player can use to save data.
When Madotsuki sleeps she begins to dream, the player is presented with a dream world which resembles the same room Madotsuki fell asleep in, with some minor differences. In this dream world the player is able to leave the room, which will lead to a zone of 12 doors commonly known as "the Hub,""the Door Room,", or more popularly, "the Nexus." All 12 doors open from the start, each leading to a different world, and often worlds themselves will contain portals or doors to other places. The environment behind each door is uniquely surreal in its own way. The plot and story of the game is for the user to navigate the main character's dreams and to obtain 25 objects known as effects. "These effects cause all sorts of things to happen, from the pedestrian (acquiring a blanket for Madotsuki to wrap herself in), to the strange (transforming the protagonist into an Oni (folklore)), to the downright demented (the protagonists' head turning into a large hand with an eye in it's palm)." Once the player has all 25 effects and drops them in the Nexus, the end of the game will follow. Both natural and artificial backgrounds like a forest, mountainside, a colorful neon maze and a bizarre number world set a strange tone for the game. One section of the game has also been made to closely resemble the original Mother game in homage. The player can attempt to interact with objects, although few will provide any response. The player can choose to wake from dreams at any time, by causing Madotsuki to pinch her cheek and awaken. This behavior ensures that the player always has a way out of the dream world at all times.
Some areas are not initially accessible until the character is able to use a particular effect, and using effects around NPCs may cause the NPC do something different or change into something else. However, beyond effects, Madotsuki typically can't interact with NPCs. Most NPCs lack the ability to talk and those that do yield nothing useful when talking to them. The character herself is a silent protagonist and does not visibly react to any of the events in the game, so the character's behaviors are entirely up to the player, whether to flee immediately or stick around and see what happens next and so on. She can also level up and gain hit points by collecting effects, but this is merely an artifact of the game's engine and has no effect on gameplay.
There is no way to actually die in a dream, though enemies do exist in the form of NPCs that teleport the player to inescapable areas. Most NPCs mean no harm to the player, though all but those particular enemy NPCs can be killed with the knife effect.
After the player has collected all 25 effects and has deposited them as eggs in the nexus room, they gain access to the ending. With the game's main objective complete, a subtle change befalls the balcony in the real world. When Madotsuki wakes up she will find a small ramp passing over the railings of the Balcony and, when the 'action' button is pressed at the top of it, she will jump off the building, into the traffic below. The last we see of Madotsuki is a blood-smear, along with the credit to Kikiyama and the final date of production.
Many locations serve no purpose in reaching the end of the game, but seem to be included for aesthetics or to hint at something in Madotsuki's thoughts or memories. There are several extremely large, wide-open maps that can only be navigated by finding landmarks or wandering aimlessly. Nearly every NPC can be killed with the knife (most will even back away when Madotsuki wields it), but this usually results in nothing more than a muted scream as it fades away. Occasionally, the killing of NPCs leads to the opening of a new area.
While the game has no "enemies" that Madotsuki can fight, some areas have wild-eyed girls with what appear to be beaks for mouths (dubbed "Toriningen," lit. Bird People) who will chase after Madotsuki and, upon catching her, teleport her to an inescapable area, forcing the player to "wake up" and return to the real world. These cannot be attacked with the knife, but the Triangle Kerchief (which turns Madotsuki invisible) and the Stoplight (which freezes NPCs) can help in avoiding them. Occasionally a calm Toriningen can be found, who will not chase after or teleport Madotsuki unless she attempts to kill them with the knife.
Freelance video game journalist Lewis Denby stated it is a "genuinely upsetting" game and that, "there's more to her (Madotsuki's) existence than almost any other videogame character you'll ever meet". Independent game developer Derek Yu enjoyed the game, comparing its visual theme to EarthBound and stating "The lack of dialogue or any 'action' fills me with this strange sense of dread."
Gamertell's Jenni Lada scored the game 85 out of 100. She praised the unique premise, distinct art style and abstract gameplay which evokes a "dream world experience". Lada noted the geometry of the dream areas, which allows for loops and exitless rooms, and found that it could be "winding and confusing". Whilst she warned that it won't be to everyone's taste due to "dark or graphic imagery", and found the ending, depicting the protagonist committing suicide, to be disappointing, she concluded that Yume Nikki was worth experiencing.
John Jackson praised the game for its ethereal dream-like setting and it's non linear gameplay mechanic, stating, "Out of every game about dreams, this is the one that probably comes closest to actually resembling one. He goes on to argue the game's limitations and vast, indefinable architecture forces the player to question their surroundings and the significance of the smallest actions and events that confront them.
- LSD - A PlayStation game with similar dream based themes and gameplay.
- ↑ W., Tim (2008-04-07). Freeware Game Pick: Yume Nikki (Kikiyama). IndieGames.com. Retrieved on 2009-06-21
- ↑ Yume Nikki - Television Tropes & Idioms. TV Tropes. Retrieved on 2010-07-22
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Denby, Lewis (2009-04-02). Understanding Yumme Nikki. Wordpress. Retrieved on 2009-07-25
- ↑ Rochelle. Gaming Pixie Reviews >> Game Review: Yume Nikki. Gaming Pixie. Retrieved on 2010-07-22
- ↑ Yu, Derek (2008-04-09). Yume Nikki. TIGSource. Retrieved on 2009-06-21
- ↑ Lada, Jenni (2009-04-22). Gamertell Review: Yume Nikki for PC. Gamertell. Retrieved on 2009-06-21
- ↑ John Jackson (2010-05-05). Every Day the Same Dream Diary. Kotaku. Retrieved on 2010-07-22