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Video Game / LSD: Dream Emulator

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"You can hold X to run. But I don't advise doing that in this game, because you're liable to run into a wall and have, like, a demonic head explode out of it while little elephants float out of the sky as a man in a huge cloak comes up behind you and the screen turns blood red. And, yes, that does happen in this game. I'm not kidding."
Azuritereaction's YouTube commentary of the game.

LSD: Dream Emulator is a PS1-era game created by Osamu Sato (who also made Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou), and only released in Japan. It's a Cult Classic, especially among Let's Play groups. There is no goal, no combat, nothing but walking around the completely random environments. The main appeal for players is its insanity — one day, you might see a line of elephants walking into a pit, while other times you might encounter the Grey Man, the closest thing to a recurring villain.

The game also does one particular thing that's completely horrible — it gets scarier as it goes on. The more you dream, the more bizarre and messed-up textures and events you will encounter.note  The Grey Man will appear more often. One person played the game so long that the system it uses to scarify things broke, and every texture was replaced with glitchy black.

Perhaps the scariest thing about the game is that it's all real, in a sense. One of the employees at the company who made it, Hiroko Nishikawa, was having very disturbing dreams and recorded it all in a dream journal. She later presented it to the company, and it got made into this game. If you want to read the original journal, it has been released as Lovely Sweet Dream, but it's even more difficult to find than the game itself.

The game has a reputation for making you think you've figured everything there is to figure out, and then doing something very bad to you.

Compare and contrast with Paranoiascape, a similar game released around the same time.

Has a wiki!

There also is a fan-made remake in the works. The developer and the fan-remake's development progress here. It's classified as LSD in HD according to how it is being described. Current version available for download here. A fan-translation of the original PlayStation game was released on May 1, 2020 and can be downloaded here.

This game provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: There's a book apparently explaining everything in the game, although it's hellishly difficult to find since only 50 were ever made. Scans of the Dream Journal the game's based on are available online, and most dreams are in English. The manual's also available online, but it's in Japanese.
  • The Blank: Most of the human or human-like characters have blank, featureless faces, probably due to the graphical limitations of the game's engine.
  • Cephalothorax: There is an NPC that is one of these in the courtyard of the apartment building/hotel. It moves whenever you move, so it is impossible to get close enough to it to touch it.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Linking from one place to another is accompanied by a flash of certain colour. White and blue indicates that next place will be rather serene and untroubled, while red foreshadows a darker turn.
  • Counting Sheep: A non-interactive animation which may show up instead of a dream.
  • Creepy Doll: The teddy bear that stalks you.
  • Deadly Walls: Kind of. Touching anything but the ground will transport you out of that area of the dream world.
  • Dream Land: The entire game takes place in a dream land, since it's based off someone's dreams.
  • Driven to Suicide: Literally, in three different ways, all of which can be found in the Violence District — the car driving into the sea, the hanging women (it's quite possible, though, that they were lynched), and even putting you on top of a building and making you jump off. You can also jump off the many cliffs you may find, ending the dream, but you won't die.
  • Environmental Narrative Game: Perhaps a prototypical example of the genre. Although there isn't a concrete narrative, it features many of the traits commonly associated with the genre: minimalist game mechanics, a first-person perspective and an emphasis on exploration.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: LSD: Dream Emulator is a game that simulates someone's dreams, which has a bizarre and trippy style that can be compared to an LSD trip.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The Downer textures love to add eyeballs everywhere, such as on the houses in Kyoto.
  • The Faceless: The face of the soldier in the Violence District is completely obscured by his helmet.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Possibly, although the dream journal the game is based on is from a woman, and a skeleton found in a room of the hotel suggests your character is female.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The opening sequence includes text like "In Leisure, the Sonorous Dream" and "In Logic, the Symbolic Dream".
  • Gratuitous English: Happy Town is usually stylized internally as HAPPY TOWN, consistently in all caps and in contrast to every other location being given Japanese names.
  • Hatsuyume: The 365th dream in the game ends with a cutscene featuring Mt Fuji, a hawk, and an eggplant.
  • Hellhound: A wolf-like creature that chases you and lunges at your throat, causing the stage to end.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Possibly, the Grey Man. Who is he? How can he walk without moving his legs? Why does he look like he doesn't fit in that coat at all? What is someone in a trenchcoat and fedora doing in Happy Land? Why does he appear there more than anyone else?! What's particularly notable about him is his recurring and antagonistic nature, which is mostly unique in this game.
    • There's a theory that he is the result of a sleep disorder called hypnognia, where the sleeping mind automatically assumes that there is a dangerous entity / danger.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Violence District.
  • Mind Screw: Nobody (at least none in the English fan community) has figured out how the hell the game actually works. In a very kind gesture, every area in the game is connected in a concrete way and maps exist, but the actual methods the game uses to randomly decide where you go, what happens, and what it looks like are unknown. It's strongly implied that there is some sort of system the game has, but...
  • Never Trust a Title: For something named "Lovely Sweet Dream", this game contains a lot of rather offputting nightmarish stuff.
  • Poke the Poodle: The Gray Man, although scary, just erases your log of dreams, which seems like this Trope. However, evidence suggests that the Dream Log can get you something if you fill enough of it.
    • It seems that after you run into the Gray Man and the Dream Log gets erased, it also erases all progress in getting the creepy textures, events, and characters so you have to start over from the normal textures again. Which is fairly annoying if you're trying to see just how creepy and confusing the game can get.
  • Scare Chord: One plays when encountering the hanging women in the Violence District.
  • Sugar Bowl: One of the areas, but just be careful not to get in any of the residents' ways...
  • Surreal Horror: A lot of it exists in this game, naturally due to the nature of dreams. There's a shadowy figure in a coat and hat who appears out of nowhere and glide towards you, a large humanoid who throws its head at you, a space area where a bridge connects the mouth of two giant suns, a texture which makes things more disturbing, such as having eyes appear everywhere... and that's not even half of the bizarre and horrifying stuff in this game.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Most of the areas are vast and wide, giving you a lot of things to find. The Natural World especially fits this, due to being larger than the other areas and serving as a hub or overworld with connections to several other places.
  • Womb Level: One series of hallways is fleshy, pink, and infested with demonic babies.