Dreamkiller Preview: What Dreams May Die

Dreamkiller is a sequel to a fan-made sequel of a first-person shooter where the entire point of the game was to kill as much as you could as fast as you could.

True to its roots, Dreamkiller has a lot of killing and not a lot of time to do it in. For some, you might not need anything else in the way of a preview to tell you what the game is like. For the rest of us, read read on to see if Dr. Alice Drake's in-depth therapy is right for you.

What Is It?
Dreamkiller is a first-person shooter where players take the role of Dr. Alice Drake, a tattooed psychologist who has the power to project herself into her patients' dreams and "treat" them by killing their nightmares.

What We Saw
I got one level's worth of hands-on time.

How Far Along Is It?
The game ships in October.

What Needs Improvement?
Alice's Diet: Dr. Drake feels too light. There's a lot of moving around in the game, plus strafing enemies, jumping over very low ledges and a neat teleportation trick where the doctor can project an image of herself forward and then appear there with the press of a button. Being too light makes all that moving feel nauseating and when Alice can't seem to jump high enough to clear a ledge, it's very jarring. If she's as light as air, why can't she float up to the ledge where the awesome gun is?

Troublesome Visuals: Maybe I just got the wrong patient (because each level is the manifestation of a patient's mind), but the level I played through was visually dull to the point of being exhausting. The primary colors in the background were white for ice and gray for metal. Occasionally, there would be red or orange – but that was only at points where enemies were spawning through the Subconscious layer of the dream to kick my little tattooed butt. Toward the end of the level, however, there was one visually interesting section with a dead tree and a series of doors. But it was gone so soon and replaced so quickly with more ice tunnels and stuff that I completely forgotten about it by the end of the level.

Frequent Mid-Level Loads: Boo!

What Should Stay The Same?
Marvelous Cut Scenes: Rather than blowing their budget on fugly 3D cinemas, developer Mindware Studios shelled out for some tasteful watercolor stills to pair with voice overs. The scene I watched before the ice level depicted our good doctor in waking life as a redheaded "punk rock chick" psychologist with an office that looks more like Dick Tracy's digs than those of a licensed therapist (seriously, where is the couch?). It was a total (and colorful) turnaround from the in-game visuals and the kind of thing that you'd feel like you've earned after a particularly hard level.

The Hail Storm: I'm a huge shotgun fan in any shooter – but in Dreamkiller, where you only get one weapon at a time in addition to your hand-to-hand abilities, the shotgun (aka Hail Storm) is my best friend. It's even better when you level it up all the way with pickups because you can use it on ranged enemies perched on platforms.

Multiplayer Potential: There is competitive four-person multiplayer in the game. Although I didn't get to see it (and have no idea if it's local or online only), if the developer can keep the frame rate consistent, I can tell it's going to be a blast. The game just moves so quickly and stuff explodes so easily – it could be just like Quake, which I count as a win.

Final Thoughts
Something needs to be said about repetition here because Dreamkiller is nothing if not repetitive. If you've played Painkiller: Overdose or the original Painkiller, however, you know the game is supposed to be that way. After all, the point of those games and of Dreamkiller is to kill, kill, kill – it's right there in the title. So if you're annoyed by a lack of puzzle-solving and get tired of killing stuff endlessly, obviously this game wasn't made with you in mind. Fans of kill-tastic glory for whom the game was made, though, will probably be thrilled by the simplicity and think of the repetition as a sweet ballet of death to be savored. With a shotgun.