Crapshoot: Dreamweb was doing cyberpunk and nudity earlier than it was cool


From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the cube to deliver random obscure video games again into the sunshine. This week, a glance again on a recreation that was simply plucked from the archives and made freeware. Is its weirdness value a obtain?

You are a standard man. A bartender, in a dystopian future the place the night climate report is just “Rain” and tomorrow will at all times be a trenchcoat and shades form of day. You sleep, as a result of that is kinda one thing you do. You then get up and determine to go and homicide a number of extremely well-known folks in chilly blood as a result of some man in your dream informed you to. Seems like a plan, proper?

On the plus aspect, not less than now you get to do it without spending a dime.

Wow, Scott Pilgrim received darkish unexpectedly.

Dreamweb is a bizarre little recreation, and the newest 90s ‘factor’ to make the soar to official, go-nuts, abandonware-no-more freeware. ScummVM has the information you want, and naturally, the software program to run it. DOSBox works nice too, as certainly may opening the executable in a hex editor and having it processed by the best laptop of all—the human mind! Undoubtedly attempt that final although.

Is it a misplaced gem? In brief, no. In barely extra element, hahahahahahahahaha no. It is attention-grabbing although, in a manner that implies it might have been one thing particular had its designers not apparently a) run out of time or b) run out of curiosity after ending its first couple of missions. The most important loss was that at the beginning, it is stored obscure whether or not or not you are truly saving the world or only a loopy particular person whose thought of a very good evening’s work is to amble into some superstar’s house and carry out head surgical procedure with a shotgun. By even the mid-game, that is gone. It is actual. And far much less attention-grabbing consequently.

Dreamweb was additionally a controversial recreation, not for any of this—pfft, as if—however for the much more socially worrying, unthinkable inclusion of some pixels of hardcore, low-res intercourse and terrifying, terrifying penis. The world was merely not able to be uncovered to such publicity, and when society lastly will get blasted into salt for its sins, it is truthful to say that Dreamweb will finally be accountable. Or, certainly, not.

Even so, a woman simply fainted and one man blew his brains out on the mere thought. Oh, mercy! Genitalia!

Even with that lurking horror within the pants of future although, the primary mission is well worth the obtain for each its distinctive model, and its academic worth. Do you wish to homicide the world’s most well-known rock star? Dreamweb demonstrates that you do not want Agent 47’s coaching, or Corvo’s magic powers, and even the frequent sense to understand that sun shades are for the day-time. You simply want slightly moxie. And a gun, ideally. However principally moxie. And a bank card. Actually, moxie is irrelevant. Screw moxie.

Why are you murdering the world’s most well-known rock star, after which a number of different folks? As talked about, you are only a common man, a bartender known as Ryan, obeying the voices in your head. The aim is to guard the Dreamweb, a magical drive that psychically connects everybody collectively, and is beneath risk from seven baddies who wish to seize its energy and cripple the world with nightmares about being bare in an examination or no matter. Ryan heads out to save lots of the world from a future the place dictators find yourself at warfare after too many tormented nightmares of kissing one another with tongues, and no person dares depart their homes for worry of the carrot folks. I could also be underselling the risk right here. I am undecided it issues although, as a result of Ryan simply takes it on religion.

I prefer to think about Ryan simply carrying a microscope round with him. It is much less loopy than it sounds.

A fast look on the display reveals Dreamweb to be slightly odd. It is all seen from a top-down perspective, normally in an space simply giant sufficient to accommodate a single Shreddie. Every little thing beneath the cursor is zoomed in, however do not assume which means this is not going to be a type of pixel-hunting adventures. Your first goal is to discover a key. The place is the important thing? The secret is within the microwave. Dreamweb!

A lot of the objects you see might be picked up and added to your stock. 99.9% of them are fully ineffective. As a substitute of filling the remainder of the display with environment or element or certainly, sufficient area to swing a cat, a lot of the display is as a substitute taken up with an enormous gormless image of Neil Gaiman staring disapprovingly at… wait, sorry, that is Ryan, trying into the gap in a manner I feel we have now to imagine he is doing within the recreation correct. Simply think about him wandering down the road with a gun, having fun with a uncommon day-dream that does not finish with some half-dressed girl toying with a bra strap and casually asking “By the way, mind killing some dude for me?” Would clarify why no person actually needs to speak to him.

Nonetheless, it is Ryan’s girlfriend, Eden, who you actually must really feel sorry for. As Ryan begins his marketing campaign of solely doubtlessly justified murder, she’s nonetheless curled up in mattress with no clue that her boyfriend is about to turn into the world’s most needed fugitive. In all probability my favorite factor within the recreation is that in case you attempt to “Use” the mattress, Dreamweb protests “You only just got out of bed!”, as if the mere thought of spending one other few hours wrapped within the bare embrace of a cherished one is someway foolish subsequent to the much more smart plan of heading out right into a wet dystopian metropolis and publicly killing a celeb in a penthouse.

I am not a lot of a morning particular person both, however rattling.

This being cyberpunk although, there’s one factor that must be completed earlier than any homicide or hacking and even breakfast can happen, and I feel everyone knows what that is going to be!

Not for nothing is the longer term’s best-selling e book “50 Shades Of Black”.

In equity to Ryan, this is not the silliest a part of dwelling in THE FUTURE. This can be a world the place everybody’s condominium is protected not with keys or biometrics or something, however by passcodes. It is unhappy when a little bit of talcum powder can get you into anybody’s personal sanctum—or would, if it hadn’t apparently been banned years in the past after one too many break-ins. I think it is solely Cyber-Canada the place it is nonetheless out there, on the grounds that everybody is much too well mannered to do something so naughty. Allegedly.

In Ryan’s condominium, we get to learn the way a would-be serial killer lives. Unsurprisingly, it is ‘in filth’. For the report, if I ever determine to go on a killing spree, I am completely taking a while to depart fiendish clues for the police investigators. A room stuffed with maps related with pink string. Partitions painted with issues like “THE SLUMBERER HATH AWAKENED” and so forth. Suitably soul-breaking music taking part in on a perpetual loop from a shrine made from some form of faeces. Simply looks as if primary good manners.

Ryan’s simply messy although, and too busy to wash up proper now. As a substitute, he goes straight to his laptop to remind himself the place his pal Louis lives. Dreamweb being in The Future, it makes use of a high-tech system designed for comfort, velocity, accessibility, and undoubtedly not copy safety.

Eh, it is nonetheless higher than Home windows 8.

A very good assassin wants allies. Ryan’s first is a man known as Louis, who lives in a foul a part of city. So unhealthy in reality that Ryan is mugged as quickly as he arrives by a man who knocks him on his arse with some form of laser whip, robs him, and screams off into the evening content material at having pulled off The Good Crime. Does he take his pockets? His sun shades? His pockets stuffed with random crap?


Nope. The mugger steals his footwear. And with out them, Ryan refuses to go anyplace else. This being Dreamweb, the goofiest cyberpunk recreation this aspect of Bloodnet, issues then get even sillier when Louis seems to be slumped on the bathroom when Ryan breaks into his condominium after which barges in to ask if he is aware of the place he can get a gun. 

Louis does, and for some cause factors Ryan to a provider with out a lot as including “Now get the hell out of my bathroom and let me shit in peace!”

And cease staring like that! Actually, it is such as you’re a murderous psycho unexpectedly.

To thank him for his assist, and render the coach theft probably the most pointless subquest in subquest historical past, Ryan then casually steals his footwear and walks out. With buddies like this…

His karma will get even worse when he heads to Louis’ contact—a man known as Silverman in a neighborhood pool corridor. Technically, you should not even be capable of get in, this apparently being a high-class form of dive the place everybody wants to point out a membership card to enter. The bouncer solely cares that you’ve got anyone’s card although, shrugging off the truth that it is a pal’s by saying that hey, if it is OK with Louis, why ought to he care? All of a sudden I see why Ryan will get away with a number of murders with out even going through a lot opposition. Everybody’s so laid again about safety round these components, doing foolish issues like leaving passwords on unprotected terminals is the equal of locking their secrets and techniques in Fort Knox.

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“What can I get you?” asks the bartender.

“Er. My friend’s name is Louis, Louis King,” Ryan tells him. “I need a gun. I don’t know much about them, but I need one.”

Nothing like each establishing a very good proof path and dropping a pal within the poop, huh, Ryan? The bartender agrees to allow you to see Silverman anyway although, presumably assuming {that a} cop could be manner higher at this, although warning that you’re going to want some ‘cash’ if you wish to get a black market supplier to produce you with something greater than a damaged nostril. Barely problematically although, Ryan is broke, and presently in a state of ‘fired like a cannon’ resulting from not bothering with work just lately.

In the meantime, in one other wet road, not distant…

Nonetheless, that is Dreamweb, the place probably the most mundane shit will get to be a puzzle however precise issues are largely solved by the sport itself. A fast journey to mentioned former employer, Sparky’s Bar, demonstrates that both that is true right here, or Ryan is simply the luckiest assassin within the historical past of psychosis.

“Hey Ryan. Did you get my Mailnet message?”

“No, sorry. I mean, sorry I’m late.”

“That’s OK, no problem at all.”


“Yeah, you’re fired. If you’d bothered to read my message you would know that by now.”

“You can’t do that I really need the money!”

“Sorry Ryan, I can’t use unreliable staff.”

“Look, I’m sorry. I’ve been having a few problems sleeping recently, I’ll try and pull myself together.”

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Take a couple of weeks off, try and sort yourself out.”

Sparky. Formally the Nicest Man In The Future. Anybody with a mind would take this success and depart, bowing and scraping, promising by no means to screw up once more. Ryan then again simply has to push issues one step additional, to the purpose that Gandhi would clip him around the ear.

“Thanks, I really appreciate it. Do you think I could have my wages?”

The right reply is clearly “Christ, Ryan, are you from Mars? Get out of here and start counting your blessings before I put away the cannon and fire you with a goddamn flamethrower!” Fortunately for Ryan although, he is some form of Jedi Knight of chutzpah, and as a substitute Sparky decides:

“Well… I guess so, even though I’ve ended up having to work behind the bar myself.”

Good to know that his religion might be rewarded by Ryan utilizing his wages to purchase a gun and kill folks, huh? That is going to be awkward when his face inevitably seems on the night information.

Ha! Now who’s Saving Silverman? Which is a reference from after our recreation got here out! Sorry!

With cash in hand although, it is time to meet Silverman. I really like this dialog. It is probably the most geeky black market deal within the historical past of fiction, from the way in which Silverman could as nicely introduce himself as “Hello, I am a black market dealer which means I will sell you things you should not have,” to Ryan proving it takes a lot greater than a pair of sun shades to be a badass. Simply… simply get pleasure from.

“Good evening. My name is Silverman. What’s yours?”

“Oh, my name is Ryan and I need your help. Louis King is a friend of mine, he said you would have what I want.”

“Your friend Louis was right, I can usually help people out, provided they have enough money.”

“Oh yes, I have money, I just hope I have enough.”

“And you’re after a handgun of some kind, yes?”

“Yeah, something that’s easy to use. I’ve never used a gun before but I need to now. I need to kill a m…”


Silverman kindly factors out “Please, Ryan, don’t tell me any more than I need to know. I can supply you with a gun. What you do with it is up to you…” however is keen to proceed the deal anyway. This being The Future, life is affordable and weapons are cheaper—two weeks of bartending being greater than sufficient to purchase a magic pistol that even a dumbass like Ryan can use. Silverman is not that a lot smarter, not simply handing an apparent loopy particular person a weapon, however a completely charged one along with his fingerprints on it and all the pieces. He isn’t a whole moron although, with a heavy on standby in case you instantly pull it out and try to gun him by the face along with your new toy. Strive that, and this occurs.

Silverman was disillusioned when the perky goth Demise did not present as much as accumulate her creator.

Ryan’s killing urge has to attend a short time but then, however not lengthy. With a gun in hand, and having left an proof path that features overtly confessing his homicide plans to folks and shopping for weapons with a bank card, he heads to his goal—David Crane. What Ryan’s goals have towards the creator of Pitfall goes largely unsaid, although I think it could have one thing to do with A Boy And His Blob.

He is staying on the Regency Resort, which is so costly and opulent {that a} deranged bartender can afford an entire suite with the change left from two weeks wages and shopping for an computerized weapon on the black market. Conveniently, a lot of the rooms are gone. The one which is not… is correct beneath the penthouse the place Crane is staying. Ryan someway manages to keep away from telling the receptionist “Awesome! That’s exactly who I was planning to murder!” 

So, he is studying. Bought to provide him that.

There isn’t any want to truly go into the suite although, making this pointless. As a substitute, Ryan stops by a fireplace level and pinches an axe, and defeats lodge safety by sabotaging the raise controls with a knife and clambering as much as the highest ground. And what time that makes it? It is Homicide O’Clock!


OK, Ryan. With this double murder, you’ve earned the fitting to put on these shades.

Ryan hacks open the door with the fireaxe and bursts out a on poolside. Two guards are there. One goes for his gun, however Ryan avoids it—not by dodging, particularly, however by spinning spherical to plant the axe in some man’s chest. With out a second’s thought, he then pulls his gun and shoots the second guard into an exploded mess. Neither is deemed value a remark, by no means thoughts regret.

Oh, you are busy? I can come again a bit later, in case you… oh, you are completed. Figured you’d have extra stamina, truthfully.

In Dreamweb’s most controversial scene, you burst in on Crane having intercourse with a woman. It’s probably probably the most erotic factor ever to require squinting to see, or, extra seemingly not. Unflapped, Ryan pulls his gun. Crane sees him. The lady screams, climbs off him, and crawls beneath the mattress. And Crane—



Properly, that. Fortunately for the MORAL HEALTH OF THE WORLD, he instantly grabs a pillow to cowl himself with, and has a deeply undignified last dialog with the loopy particular person. Sadly, his dialogue makes it clear that you’re truly on a mission to save lots of the world, with discuss of “Keepers” and “Deliverers” and “Killing me will only make the others stronger.” This seems to be a whole lie, as Crane is by far the toughest goal. In each doable sense, truly.

“I must kill you,” drones Ryan. “Then the nightmares will end.”

Once you see Devil, inform him Mary Whitehouse despatched you, bitch!

He shoots. He scores a direct hit. Splattering Crane into goo then unleashes The Quickening, as a ball of blue mild explodes from his chest and warps Ryan into the Dreamweb to search out out his subsequent mission. After that, he wakes up elsewhere within the metropolis, virtually as if he went into some form of fugue state after his crime and actually must be arrested for the great of everybody round him. Nearly, however sadly, not.

And that is the primary hit over. Dreamweb has a number of extra, however they’re nowhere close to the identical stage of depth. After some time, your targets even find yourself bumping one another off to save lots of you the trouble, with puzzles descending to “Press Button To Win” stage. Time or sources, I do not know. For those who’re concerned with trying out the remainder anyway although, head to ScummVM and obtain it. You might have considered trying a walkthrough for the pc stuff. (Ryan’s password is “blackdragon”.) Alternatively, take a look at the entire recreation in much less fiddly kind, proper right here. As you’ll be able to see from the runtime, it is not precisely lengthy.

MEDICAL NOTE: Doing random stuff as a result of folks in your goals mentioned to might be hazardous to your well being. Except they inform you to ship me luggage of helpful gems. Then you’re certainly the Chosen One Of Legend, and I sit up for seeing you show your chosenisity.

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