Yume Nikki – Dream Diary- was announced, rebooting the cult classic into a 3D horror game set to come out in February. Yume Nikki‘s something that’s important to me, which you can see given how often I mention the game on here. It’s been with me since middle school and it was one of the first indie games I’ve ever played, along with Cave Story, and they were a gateway for me into this whole scene. As somebody invested in Yume Nikki and its community, I’m excited to see Yume Nikki coming out for a bigger audience in a new way.
Now, the upcoming game isn’t the first time its main character Madotsuki ran around on a 3D plane. Within Yume Nikki’s vibrant fangame community, there was an attempt to make a 3D fangame.
Yume Nikki 3D is by Zykoveddy, who published the game sometime in 2014. Like the game it’s based off of, you explore Madotsuki’s dreams – but now in 3D! Along with recreations of areas from the original game, there’s a whole bunch of new areas. To beat the game, you’d have to seek out Madotsuki’s effects (items that let her change appearance and sometimes gives abilities) along with keys that were added to the game.
3D really adds to Yume Nikki‘s original exploration. There’s this greater sense of scale that 3D can grant that 2D space cannot, Madotsuki a tiny entity in her strange dream worlds. I think this sense of scale is best appreciated in the game’s original tower area. As you walk on the tower’s walkways, you can look up and down and you can see the tower stretch on into forever, its expressed scale making the area feel more of a labyrinth than it already is.
Being a 3D game, draw distance also becomes a factor that the creator plays with as an aesthetic. You can see everything in some areas plain as day, while others don’t have objects come into view until you get close enough, usually in areas that’s meant to be more unnerving. It’s sort of how like Silent Hill’s fog was there to limit draw distance and wound up being part of the game’s horror atmosphere.
The areas that are recreations are pretty faithful while the game’s original areas are generally good. Some of these areas have different moods than what Yume Nikki tries to convey, like the black-and-white area feeling playful compared to the usual loneliness and unease. However, I think variety is good. It’s a dream world and dreams aren’t 100% nightmares, which I feel is something that a lot of Yume Nikki fangames don’t get.
Now, an addition to the game that I kinda don’t like are the platforming aspects. Yume Nikki 3D grants Madotsuki the ability to jump and adds a few platforming segments to her dreamscape. My thing with that though is that they feel out of place for the game. I wouldn’t mind platforming as a thing to facilitate exploration, but when you do actually have to platform, it’s just a sudden obstacle course that doesn’t go with the game’s flow. It felt like the creator felt obligated to put these sections and I felt that they were sort of unnecessary. Doesn’t help that you can’t jump while you’re using the bicycle effect, and since that speeds up your walking speed, why wouldn’t you be using it?
Speaking of unnecessary, the keys. You have to get all three keys to gain access to a doorway. What’s past the door? Why, another locked door. To get past this one, you need to have all the effects. But if that’s the case… why even have the keys in the game to begin with? You collect them the same way as the effects, so why not simplify things and just have the effects or make the keys into more additional cosmetic effects? Like the platforming elements, it’s not bad, but unnecessary.
A later update to Yume Nikki 3D introduced the “Isolated” DLC. Taking place after that game, Isolated is a short linear romp in… wherever the hell Madotsuki ended up in.
Gotta be honest, it’s not as enjoyable as the main attraction, considering that you’re going from an exploration game to something where you’re railroaded. The original areas crafted for this DLC also doesn’t feel as strong or captivating as the stuff in the main game. The Isolated DLC sort of looks like the creator adding his own canon to the fangame and while I appreciate the ideas, the execution felt lackluster.
So, Yume Nikki 3D‘s an interesting take on Yume Nikki. It’s certainly got original ideas mixed in, and while I think a lot of it’s good, there’s some ideas that are extraneous that sorta drags the experience down a bit, on top of having a weak follow up. You know how in Cutthroat Kitchen where the chef nails the main dish perfectly but adds something extra for no good reason and gets kicked because of it? That’s what I feel about extraneous stuff.
Still though, it’s an interesting fangame and it takes around half an hour to play through. If you’re a Yume Nikki fan waiting around for that fancy new game to show up, maybe check this out while you wait.