I…don’t really know what to make of Amihailu in Dreamland. That’s not just me being stumped criticually and creatively, but also intellectually. I put about fifty minutes into this exploration-based puzzle game, and I still have no idea what I was ultimately doing other than walking around, interacting with everything I could, and then backtracking to see if I missed something along the way. The game refuses to tell you what to do, where to go, what’s missing, and in this age of Dark Souls and Paper Mario: Sticker Star I applaud that; however, it has gotten to the point that, unless I want to watch a video of someone else playing, I can’t continue on into the darkness.
Here’s how Noyemi K, the game’s creator, describes it:
Amihailu is a recent graduate of the Bromnian Military Academy. She recently came home from vacation with her friends and decides to take a rest because her parents are out. What follows is the strangest, most vivid dream she’s ever had! Amihailu and all her friends find themselves embarking on a strange and twisted adventure in a world where things aren’t at all what they seem and nothing makes any sense!
Yup, nothing makes any sense! That much I grokked. But when it comes to dreamlands, everything is meant to be interpretive and obtuse, so that comes with the territory. Do I really need to understand why touching a painting teleports Amihailu to another part of the map? Or why she keeps running into friends of hers that want nothing to do with her? I learned to not question much in Remember Me or Link’s Awakening, and so I have to do the same here, though without a dash of reality to reference it can be hard to separate the zany from the sane.
The main meat of Amihailu in Dreamland is puzzles and solving them yourself, whether through logic or the use of a specific item, but there’s also an RPG-esque stat screen for Amihailu with details for HP and strength, which initially gave me hope that there would be some turn-based combat. Alas, doesn’t look like it–unless it pops off later on–and I guess it is just part of the program used to create the game, that it has to be there. I keep expecting random battles in these retro-looking exploration tours, and they keep not happening. Good thing I’m still eating up Suikoden II at the moment.
There’s not much out there in terms of walkthroughs, but I tried to follow along with this “spoiler-free” guide, but couldn’t figure out step seven of the first section of the game where you have to find a tension wench from, and I quote, “the purple area.” And so, I wake up, back to the land of the living, to write about Amihailu in Dreamland here at Grinding Down and never to learn what that wood block (cedar) in my key items list was meant for. Oh well. Twas only a dream.