Video Game: The Dreamhold

The Dreamhold is an Interactive Fiction game specifically designed by Andrew Plotkin to introduce new players to the genre by providing a "tutorial voice" to guide them through the general mechanisms and gist of the game and making the puzzles relatively basic for people unfamiliar with IF tropes.

Don't let this fool you into thinking that this is a short or simple game, however, especially since it won awards for Best Puzzles and Use of Medium in the 2004 XYZZY competition. While The Dreamhold does rely on the overused "You Wake Up in a Room with no memory of who you are" IF plot, it makes full use of that plot. The rooms you need to explore are genuinely fascinating and lush with detail, the puzzles are clever without being too hard for each difficulty level, and the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot is effective enough to keep your attention and leave you with questions after the ending has rolled by. Plus, if "normal mode" is too easy for you, you can switch the game to "expert mode" to make the puzzles more challenging.

The game can be played online or downloaded here.

This game contains these tropes:

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: This seems to be what happens to you in one ending.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The palace's architecture is a little...off sometimes.
  • Break the Cutie: Implied to have happened to the PC in the memory fragments you get from the masks.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: This game seems to have been tailored to deliberately invoke Epileptic Trees and Wild Mass Guessing with all the rampant symbolism and unanswered questions throughout.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: The paintings of birds on the walls of the mosaic room change subtly whenever you reenter the room.
  • Dream Land: Well, it is named the Dreamhold...
  • Empty Room Psych: A few rooms serve no real purpose, despite being packed with many intriguing things to see. (No, there's no way to safely get the apple from the cage in the mosaic room, or play the broken harp in the harp chamber.) There are also a couple of doors that can't be opened, no matter what you do.
  • Floating Mask
  • Harder Than Hard: The game has Impossible mode as an Easter Egg and a joke about this trope. Enabling it causes the exit from the first room to disappear, making it Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
  • How Do You Like Them Apples?: The mosaic room has a "single perfect red apple" in a cage. The apple has no real function and is mainly just there for the tutorial voice to explain the undo command when the PC opens the cage only to see the apple instantly become a withered husk.
  • Infinite Flashlight: When you light the torch with an orange berry, the PC notes that the torch's straw is being consumed far more slowly than it should be, and the torch will indeed never go out unless you extinguish it with a white berry.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia
  • Magic Mirror: One that blurs your face and shows the colored shadows of the masks you've collected so far. That's a hint that you're supposed to put the masks on your reflection's face.
  • Mind Screw: The game gives you just enough information to piece together your general identity and purpose (and maybe even your name, if you examine the constellations in the night sky), and the meaning behind the Dreamhold, but leaves many details of them unexplained.
  • Multiple Endings: Three of them.
  • Portal Picture: The telescope in the atelier allows you to enter any painting (or painting-like object).
  • Video Game Tutorial: You can turn it off, though.

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