“The one thing the world will never have enough of is the outrageous.” – Salvador Dalí
Dreamfeel is a Dublin based game studio run by multi-award winning Irish artist, designer and video game maker Llaura McGee. The studio is best known for multi-award-winning Curtain, the story of a destructive relationship between two queer women in a Glasgow punk band and have recently released their latest title If Found, a beautiful coming of age story about a young trans woman in 90s Ireland.
Here are three of their other titles, all free and playable in under ten minutes!
Released: July 2016
Price: Pay what you want
Train Song is a unique 7-minute experience, both visually and thematically surreal. It begins with a relaxing tune alongside old black and white footage of trains but quickly and jarringly drags the player into a world of psychedelic characters and trippy aesthetics that seem to be a mainstay of Dreamfeel titles. The distinct art style consists of a ripped paper environment and misshapen plasticine characters that give the game a cute but slightly disturbing feel.
The gameplay is minimal and the player is required to walk through train carriages and engage in bizarre and thought-provoking conversations with the other passengers. The underlying theme of these interactions, and the experience as a whole, seems to be one of searching for meaning in life (if there is any to be found) and touches on subjects like hope, purpose, and imposter syndrome. Whilst, a single playthrough of Train Story is short, it is not possible to talk to all the passengers in one journey meaning it definitely has some replay value.
Released: October 2015
Istanbul, Texas is a music-centric tale of destruction, regret and repair. The game focuses on a man returning to his burnt down and emptied record store, drunk and alone. Players must drift through the record stacks left behind in Donny’s Discount Dungeon, switching between soundtracks whilst stumbling through breathless, and only somewhat coherent, thoughts of past and present.
The game has a simple but garish aesthetic with a limited colour palette of black and white with bright shades of pink or purple. The aesthetic is distinct but does not detract from the soundtrack which is undoubtedly the highlight of the game, even with only two main tracks. The game is another short experience from Dreamfeel but it manages to pack a little punch with its obscurity and, while probably not for everyone, is an enjoyable enough way to spend 5-10 minutes.
Released: September 2014
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Available on: Game Jolt
Bayou is a short game created over three days as part of Ludum Dare 26, with the theme of ‘minimalism’. The premise is simple; the player is navigating a small boat through a swamp, at night and has a single spear. The art style is similarly in keeping with the theme, with an uncomplicated black and white ink drawing style.
Although Bayou is a relaxing experience overall, the threat of the swamp feels prominent and it manages to be quite atmospheric. The game also culminates in a satisfying conclusion and feels like a complete experience, all commendable feats for a game made in just a few days!
Dreamfeel have produced a number of beautiful and unusual games, and I have yet to play a title I didn’t enjoy. The three listed above are very short, at under 10 minutes, but each offers something unique and often thought-provoking. With a range of art styles, themes and mechanics they have a lot to offer anyone looking for a calmer gaming experience and the lack of price tag make them easy to recommend!