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Video Game / Dare to Dream

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Developed for Windows 3.1 running with 16 colours, and written in Visual Basic 1.0, Dare To Dream was one of Epic Megagames' first games released for Windows, divided into three episodes. They were:

  • In a Darkened Room
  • In Search of the Beast
  • Christian's Lair

This Adventure Game takes the player inside the mind of the 10-year-old main character, Tyler Norris, whose inability to cope with the recent death of his father has brought something evil to life in the depths of his troubled psyche. Through the powers of a magic key, Tyler transports himself into the world of his dreams, to confront his dark side before it destroys him.

Of course, this results in a rather surreal style for the game as a whole (well, as surreal as you can get with a fixed 16-colour palette) and many of the puzzles are counter-intuitive. On the up side, there's no way to die or make the game Unwinnable. Forget an item? Just go back and get it.


If you're running 64-bit versions of Windows note , you won't be able to run it due to Microsoft removing support for 16-bit software. The good news is that for those running the more recent versions of Windows (or Linux, Mac OS, etc.) is that the game works just great under Windows 3.1 running under DOSBox. Other alternatives include virtualizing a Windows 95 PC inside a compatible emulator like VirtualBox, VMWare or VirtualPC if your PC is beefy enough.


This game contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: Some things about the games aren't evident just from playing them. For instance, all you see of Rennis is a pair of glowing eyes through a skull's eye socket. You might never guess he's supposed to be a rat unless you had the games' official hintbook with profiles for all the characters.
  • Artistic License – History: The Key of Enigami, a magical gold key topped with a ceramic unicorn, is supposedly an ancient North American Indian artifact. This is in spite of the facts that unicorns did not exist in their mythology, gold wasn't commonly used for much of anything, and the name sounds more like Japanese than a Native American language. While the game justifies some of its more outlandish events with the All Just a Dream concept, the key is one of the few things that's supposed to exist in the real world.
  • Ash Face: At one point in the first game Tyler shoots a surly bartender with a shotgun, and he looks like this in the aftermath.
  • Balloonacy: After filling up a balloon with helium, Tyler's able to use it to float all the way to the roof of a building.
  • Bag of Spilling: Tyler loses all his inventory at the end of the first game (that is, when he wakes up). He deliberately throws away everything except the magic key at the end of the second game.
  • Bat Out of Hell: There's a monster bat in the first game Tyler's afraid will attack him. He has to find some way to deal with it before he's brave enough to do anything its room.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind
  • Being Watched: After escaping from his dream in the first game Tyler can't get back to sleep, having "the horrible feeling of being watched".
  • Bland-Name Product: "Spud Lite"
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: Sometimes dark doorways show the eyes of someone looking back at Tyler, even if there's absolutely no-one there when he goes through.
  • Cat/Dog Dichotomy: Barth and Jazz, a cat and a dog met in the second game. Arch-enemies locked in a Mexican Standoff for the duration of the game.
  • Catapult Nightmare: At the end of Part 1.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The game takes on a distinctly darker tone in Part 3. In fact, the final instalment takes place in spooky forests and cemeteries full of bones and blood. The earlier goofiness is quite forgotten.
  • Cold Flames: The third game has a pillar of blue fire that actually freezes water you hold close to it.
  • Concealing Canvas: Well, concealing mirror...
  • Cool Key: The Key of Enigami, which is worked into the shape of a unicorn and allows Tyler to enter his dreamscape.
  • Difficulty Level: The first game has a choice of playing in normal mode, or an easy mode, where some of the weirder things the player has to do are already taken care of.
  • Due to the Dead: Solving one puzzle in the third game involves giving a dead soldier his last rites.
  • Empty Room Psych: There are some areas that seem like they should be relevant, but have no purpose. One's in the second game, a statue garden with a likeness of Bouf, a character from the first game, and a sad turtle that otherwise doesn't appear and who seems to be looking at something on the ground. Seems like a place you're supposed to do something, but really just there to fill space.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: A lot of the characters Tyler meets in his journeys will observe in dialogue the fact that they're just characters in some kid's dream. They don't really seem to mind, except for how bad it'll be if Christian gets loose.
  • Ghost Ship: Two of them are visible on top of a hill in the third game. They're just scenery, though.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: A lot of the characters in Tyler's dream know about the Big Bad, but make a point not to directly mention his name.
  • Horns of Villainy: Christian has a pair.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: The second and third games both have an obstacle where Tyler's paralyzed by a statue with hypnotic eyes he can't pass until he finds a way of neutralizing its gaze.
  • Imaginary Friend: Tyler's best friend Terry is actually the benign counterpart of Christian, the games' Big Bad
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Getting to several locations in the second game involving using pills from a prescription bottle to shrink, allowing access to new areas.
  • Innocence Lost: The intro for the third game from Tyler's psychiatrist describes this as happening in the game, where he has to confront his darkest thoughts. The ending reinforces this, saying Tyler's grown past needing the mental constructs of his issues featured in the game.
  • Killer Teddy Bear: An evil-looking teddy bear with red eyes sits in Christian's lair. Inspecting it summons him.
  • Let's Play: This one (by Resulka, LateBlt, and hercrabbiness)
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: The second and third games. The second one takes place in Tyler's happy thoughts, where everything's bright and colorful, downright cartoony. It segues into the third game which takes place in his personal hell, where everything he hates and fears lives. It's full of blood, monsters and dead bodies.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Being that the game takes place in the imagination of a young child, it's to be expected that a lot of puzzle solutions sound weird/arbitrary.
    • Using a fish to open a locked door is certainly not obvious. How absurd!
    • Also, getting past Bonehead and Cementhead in the second game. It's not enough to destroy the roadblock they made, the player has to find some way to deal with Bonehead and Cementhead individually, since they "won't let you" pass. Even though they don't seem like they can move, and wouldn't have any way of stopping somebody with legs from just running past them. More than that, the ways you're supposed to deal with them are totally random. You're supposed to dump a bucket of snot on top of Bonehead, and make Cementhead drink beer you automatically put a magic bean into. Not only that, you have to think to wait for him to open his mouth during his animation cycle for it to work.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: The key can be used to open portals into the user's mind, and can also destroy people, or at least mental beings, if asked to.
  • Palate Propping: One location that needs to be visited in the second game is the inside of a tree with a face. Tyler won't do so until he finds something to wedge its mouth open, since he's afraid of it closing and trapping him inside.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The shock of Tyler's father dying creates a growing darkness inside him, which results in the journey into his own mind to confront it.
  • Product Placement:
    • Assorted adverts for Jill of the Jungle, Zone 66, Palace of Deceit: Dragon's Plight, and other games from "number uno shareware game company" Epic Megagames.
    • A key found in the second game has a Treasure Troll doll on the keyring, those having been really big around the time the games were made.
  • Punny Name: With the game taking place entirely in the imagination of a young boy, there's some of this. Like Bonehead and his brother Cementhead, who are a bone with eyes and a chunk of cement with a face.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The third game's color palette is mostly red with lots of dark blues and blacks.
  • Repression Never Ends Well: Tyler's psychologist discerns that showing no negative emotions despite the death of his beloved father is a severe tendency of repression, until all of those bottled up negative emotions coalesced into an entirely separate, entirely evil personality taking root in his mind.
  • Scary Skeleton: Some are encountered in the hell of the last game, like Enthius the snake and Christian himself. Fortunately some, like the villain's pet dragon, are skeletons, but stay dead.
  • Sewer Gator: Tyler meets a friendly one who passes along a bit of helpful info. Along with some of the above Product Placement.
  • Stuck in the Doorway: Tyler has to grease some sewer gratings to be able to squeeze through in the first game.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: The final visual of the first game is a pair of glowing monster eyes under Tyler's bed.
  • Threatening Shark: Inverted with Prince, who's cordial to Tyler. And who gives him the magic key after being placated with a tasty fish.
  • The Trees Have Faces: They're cute in the second game, and scary in the third one.
  • Unwinnable: Completely averted. You can't even die, either.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: There are some things the player can't find or take until a certain character tells him they're there, or gives him their permission. Even though all of this is happening inside his mind.