Nightmares, anybody?

After my last game, I had the overwhelming urge to do something a little more serious again, and there was one idea I had been planning to explore for a few years already - originally in the form of a novella or novel. Well, the visual novel genre felt perfectly suited for that, so I just did it - and this is how The Dreaming was created.

The Dreaming was my first shot at a psychological horror game, and apparently, it was VERY well received as that. My inspiration was Higurashi When they cry, which is why I wanted a sorta chibi art style for the game, though the story is very different from Higurashi, especially considering that it doesn't contain any sort of gore but rather a horror born out of being deprived of safety and security. The story revolves around Gabrielle, a young psychiatrist who, during her internship at a famous mental institute, is given the task to diagnose a patient with an unusual case of schizophrenia. Gabrielle quickly develops a personal interest in the case and starts analyzing Julius, her patient, a little closer.

As it turns out, Julius's case is quite unusual - not only does he have vivid hallucinations of people that don't exist, he also cannot distinguish them from reality, and in fact, even reality starts looking like a hallucination to him. Gabrielle tries to find out whether there is some trauma responsible for that strange condition - but before she knows it, suddenly things go very, VERY bad, and Gabrielle has to face a situation she's never been in before.

Yup, that bad. And that picture up there is only fan art..

Unfortunately, The Dreaming was never finished in terms of graphical assets. The story is complete, the game is bug-free, but a few of the appearing characters are merely character sketches, and all the BG art still consists of placeholder photographies. However, some people have mentioned that this really helps creating a spooky, unsettling atmosphere, so maybe the result I got is even better than the result I was trying to achieve. Together with a simple graphical trick I did and a good selection of music, this can be a really scary experience. Though not everything about it is scary.

Some have called The Dreaming "probably the best original English visual novel out there", which I cannot agree on, but it's a pretty darn good, scary and eventually really tragic story. However, be warned: this is not a fair game! I intentionally made this VN very, very hard, leading players into death, suddenly fiddling with the controls or even making decisions on its own. The True Ending isn't easy to find, though those who manage to find it will learn the full truth about the story - and also about the original idea I wanted to explore. So get it - as my other VNs up to that point, it's free!

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