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Video Game / DreamWeb

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DreamWeb is a Cyberpunk top down Adventure Game, developed by Creative Reality and published by Empire Interactive Entertainment. The game was released in 1994.

Ryan, a bartender, hasn't been sleeping well. Haunted by nightmares and strange visions, he eventually dreams of a monk-like figure telling him about seven evil people who, if united, will destroy the eponymous Dreamweb, and send mankind spiralling into chaos. And there's a serial killer on the loose, and thanks to these blackouts and nightmares, Ryan isn't entirely certain it's not him.

Rapidly descending into madness and just wanting his nightmares to stop, Ryan accepts his mission, then wakes up in a puddle of cold sweat next to his beloved girlfriend in her house, and late for work. Again.

The game is now free, and can be downloaded here.

Provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The game originally came with the "Diary of a (Mad?) Man", which greatly fleshed out the main character, his mental problems, and the world he lives in. In fact, the story of the diary is far more detailed than the game itself; it also features a progressive rendering of symbol seen in dreams, necessary to unlock one of the final doors.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ryan succeeds in his quest, but gets shot by the police. Can be Downer Ending if you think the whole thing was just a mad man's imagination.
  • Cassandra Truth: What do you expect, the police do not understand, or even know, about the threat they pose to the world. In the eyes of the police, you are just some spree killer, who just murdered a series of people. In the end, they will assume that Ryan is actually the dealer, and not Dr. Beckett.
  • Character Portrait: Ryan's portrait takes up a quarter of the screen on the left and remains there the entire time. It only changes once when you pick up and put sunglasses on him.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Ryan himself is an Everyman Loser kind of guy, and even admits that he's a loser and that it's his own fault if his life kind of sucks.
  • Coitus Interruptus: Crane is having sex when Ryan breaks in to kill him. The woman screams and hides under the bed while Crane lies there staring at Ryan's gun. This brought controversy, because the scene is completely uncensored, including Crane's "equipment."
  • Computer Equals Monitor: A security computer gets disabled/destroyed by shooting the screen.
  • Cool Shades: Ryan has to put some shades on to obscure his identity after he is wanted for murder.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: A few victims, who don't get killed by Ryan's pistol, undergo this. Diane Underwood arguably had the worst among them. Ryan messes with the circuit box that controls her house's guard turret, which promptly blows up. Unfortunately to her, this releases heavy bolts of energy that bisects her body. And yet she's still alive when Ryan gets to her! The injury is so bad, she begs him to Mercy Kill just to end her suffering.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: The game plays this straight, what's with poorly lit, often dirty looking streets and permanent drizzle with occasional showers and lightnings. Ryan doesn't seem to mind. In-game weather report:
    As the rainy season continues there will be increased humidity and constant rainfall, although mostly restricted to a light drizzle. Constant cloud cover is expected and temperatures will reach a moderate 20 degrees.
    Due to the rain and cloud cover there will be a serious increase of trapped pollution in the air and it is recommended that masks are worn at all times for those in pollution risk category A. The risk should clear in 2 or 3 weeks.
    Today's Outlook
    Generally poor, uncomfortable humidity, low levels of sunlight and poor visibility.
  • The Hero Dies: In the end, the cops come along and shoot you for all the killing people that you did. So, you just saved the world and they gunned you down as you came out of a blackout? What a bunch of ungrateful-
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Even when believing Ryan's dream is a real deal, it becomes harder and harder to excuse his questionable actions. On his way to approach the second target, Ryan is blocked by an armless guard who won't let him in. Instead of distracting him as a morally sound adventure game protagonist would, Ryan pulls out a gun, shoots him to death, and carries on.
  • Guide Dang It!: A lot of the game's challenge comes from that it's not clear what items you should bring with you.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Averted - there's plenty of items a player can take, but most of them are useless, and would just clutter their inventory. (things like plates, cups, lighters, and so on)
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never been clear if the whole adventure was real, or if Ryan is just frikkin' crazy. Except for the scene after the credits, which cannot be Ryan's hallucination, since he's dead; but the preceding text casts doubt on its canonicity.
  • No Water Proofing In The Future: The solution for getting past Diane Underwood's automatic turret is to pour water on the junction box, which promptly causes the turret (NOT the junction box, it just shorts out) to spectacularly explode. Despite said junction box being located on a beachside only several feet away from the water. To be fair, it is a junction box (high-powered circuits), but that further calls its placement into question.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: Home "terminals" have no graphics at all. The user is stuck with a clumsy DOS-like interface to access everything from his e-mails to fetching the latest news broadcast (which consists of text, too, of course).
  • Painting the Medium: The "Diary of a (Mad?) Man" is handwritten in a way that reflects Ryan's mental state on corresponding days. At one point he goes for several days without sleep to avoid the visions he sees in his dreams, and his handwriting gets progressively worse over this period.
  • Pixel Hunt: The first pixel hunt is retrieving Ryan's wallet, found on the desk with no special attention drawn to it: even examining the desk just says it's occupied by Eden's computer and mousepage. Objects are identified if the cursor hovers over them. Otherwise, the game's viewport is rather small, with a secondary window showing a magnification of whatever's below the cursor, giving the trope a whole new level.
  • Police Are Useless: Zigzagged, though arguably in a way that makes their ineffectiveness even worse. News reports show the police do figure out Ryan is the killer over the course of the game. Despite this, at no point are the police an active impediment to his actions. There is no indication they searched his apartment or spoke to his employer or friends, or that they are keeping an eye on any of the aforementioned in case Ryan visits them. Then the police suddenly show up in the end to gun him down.
  • Sunglasses at Night: The smog in the city and rainy weather make it unnecessary for Ryan to wear black sunglasses, but he still wears them because it makes him feel better.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: There's no hero's welcome and or living happily ever after after Ryan kills seven people. The police have labeled him as a serial killer, and in the final sequence of the game, a police ambush waits for Ryan, shooting him dead the second he moves.
  • The Stinger: Credits run over blurry Ryan's dead body. Then the camera focuses on it and a familiar shimmering blue orb rises from the body and flies away, leaving a note. This kind of proves that the events were quite real and not Ryan's imagination, and it meshes very well with what the last enemy said.
  • This Loser Is You: One of the first things Ryan has to do is finding shoes for himself because a robber electrocuted him and ran away with his trainers. Also, he's fired from his job. Seeing that he still has friends who worry about him, it's clear he used to live a normal life before the DreamWeb thing reduced him into a wreck.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Whether what you're seeing on screen is real, or Ryan's delusions is an intentionally unanswered question.
  • Top-Down View: Unusually for an adventure game, making it look closer to contemporary CRPGs. According to Word of God this was done to help make the player feel detached from Ryan's actions, like the player is some puppeteer looking down on tiny people.
  • The Unfought: The priest is said to have progressed further than the rest. Does that mean he'd be the hardest? Actually, he turned into some weird-looking sessile Eldritch Abomination, leaving nothing for Ryan to kill. But alone, he's no threat to Dreamweb.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The game allows you to go back to retrieve any items you missed, but there're still a couple incidents where you can't:
    • If you've jammed the hotel's elevator without getting an axe from firepoint (necessary to escape from the place), well, you're screwed.
    • You must pick up the purple crystal on your first or second trip to DreamWeb. It's required to defend yourself when assassinating your next target. At least this one is less likely to screw up, as one of the monks advises you to get it before you leave.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: At some point, Ryan just foregoes subtlety and starts shooting most of his problems with his plasma pistol. In fairness, that tends to solve the problem, but it obviously leaves a big mess behind that ends up drawing lots of unwanted attention.