When Brave came out in theaters this year, everyone said it was great to finally have a Disney princess with a strong personality. Merida isn’t as much of a pushover as Snow White or Sleeping Beauty; making her a princess is a step for women’s rights and gender equality!
That’s all well and good, but hellooo? What about the Disney princes? The male characters don’t have personalities, either. Come to think of it, do they even have names? I’m pretty sure they all get called “Prince Charming.” Maybe they’re all related.
Anyway, Awakening: The Dreamless Castle is a fairy tale game, starring Princess Sophia. Like Sleeping Beauty, she was put into an enchanted, hundred-year sleep. Unlike Sleeping Beauty, Sophia’s prince was a lazy bum who never bothered to rescue her. So she just sleeps for a hundred years, wakes up locked in a castle, and has to figure out how to escape.
That’s pretty much the plot of this game. Sophia wakes up in the castle, and she has to escape. The rest of the plot, spread out among four cutscenes, just adds a bit more extra detail.
Personally, I like the plot. It’s not deep, which is just fine for a casual game. I think what impresses me most is the fact that they didn’t go completely overboard with the fairy tale plot. Most other casual games would scream, “HEY! This game is sort of like Sleeping Beauty!“, in hopes of making more sales, ala Grim Tales or Dark Parables. This game just lets the gameplay speak for itself.
What does the gameplay say? Mostly good things. There are only two to three puzzles that I would deem worthy of exclusion from the game. All the other (many) puzzles are perfectly fine and good. True, the game simply reuses the same four basic puzzle ideas over and over again, but there are enough variations to make things interesting.
No, the biggest problems with this game’s puzzles come in the various ports of the game. If you’re on the iOS version, congratulations! The hint button doesn’t work at all. Whenever you press it, nothing happens. Also, a few puzzles require clicking which is too precise for a small screen like the iPhone’s; be prepared to retry the harp puzzle over and over again.
Overall, I’d say that Awakening: The Dreamless Castle is a very good casual adventure game. It has problems, but they’re all minor, and I’m willing to overlook them.
I’m not sure why I’m willing to overlook the game’s problems; if this was a different game, I’d probably spend twelve paragraphs complaining about the game’s flaws. Maybe I’m more willing to overlook the flaws, because this is a casual game. By nature, you don’t usually take those games very seriously.
Or maybe I’m willing to overlook the flaws, because it’s a pretty game with a princess and fairies. Yes, the game is pretty. The artwork looks great, and it’s heavily stylized to fit the theme of an enchanted castle. I’d love to see more casual games that perfectly fit around a theme other than “dark and spooky”, ala Grim Tales or Dark Parables. Seriously, casual games. Enough with the horror games. Might I suggest trying a humor-based casual game instead?
In conclusion, Brave is a perfectly good movie, even if the will-o’-the-wisps are poor replacements for fairies, and they phoned it in when it came to the witch, and the title really has nothing to do with the movie itself, and…hey, it was amusing enough, OK? Not as good as the other Pixar films? Maybe. A bad movie? No!
Awakening: The Dreamless Castle is a bit longer than Brave is. The game has an hour long trial, which is more than enough to get a sense of what the entire game is like. If you’re in the mood for a casual adventure game, check this one out. It has three sequels, so you know they did something right with this game.
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