It only takes three screens to tell the story of A Landlord’s Dream, but, for a Monthly Adventure Game Studio Competition (MAGS) entry, this is all it needs. Amazingly, there’s a world here, cyberpunky and mysterious and sparkling with inspiration, not that far off from dystopian Los Angeles from Blade Runner or the futuristic, augmented Detroit from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It may not be entirely fleshed out in every instance, but there’s a lot to digest, with plenty of room to grow and become something bigger. Certainly, the conspiracy goes deeper than just the landlord.
A Landlord’s Dream comes to us from LostTrainDude, and this is the first game of his or her portfolio that I’ve touched, but I suspect I’ll dip back into some older work, such as A Night That Wouldn’t End, which is an intriguing title to start. Anyways, this short hop around a building is about Abel Lowen, a Stringshaper and sleepy band member, who is awoken in the middle of the night by his apartment’s alarm clock on the fritz. Once he’s finally up and at ’em, Lowen realizes that almost nothing technological seems to be working properly–not his phone, not his alarm system, and certainly not his implants, the ones that power his musical talents. Venturing out into the hallway, he quickly sees that he’s not the only one experiencing problems.
Gameplay is your standard point-and-click adventuring stuff. You can left click to use/interact with items and right click to learn about them. Lowen has an inventory too, though you won’t hold very much over the course of three screens. Inside your inventory, you can examine objects further or click on them to use on whatever person, place, or thing you desire. In terms of puzzles, they are mostly logical, though I got stuck for a bit on how to create a distraction despite having the idea down; eventually, I just tried every combination of items until something happened, which did not make me feel smart, only frustrated.
A couple of other nitpicks I ran into with A Landlord’s Dream. Technically, there is some pixel hunting for some of the tinier items or interactive spots, such as using the cell phone on the door alarm, and the game ends with the UI still accessible during the end credits sequence. Small quibbles, but they are there nonetheless.
I’m usually not the sort that replays point-and-click adventure games, but if this one got reworked a bit and lengthened in all the right areas (more screens, more info about implants, more characters to chat with), I’d be down for helping delirious men with prophet-driven hallucinations and scaring cats to create distractions again. I don’t know, but something about the grainy pixel art of this digital world really resonates with me.