Sweet Dreams Alex
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 9

Sweet Dreams Alex challenges players to use an array of objects and the terrain to their advantage to protect a small girl from nightmares. Using everything from switches and teleporters to playground equipment and even aquatic life, the goal is to prevent nightmares from reaching a slumbering Alex before the timer runs out. The game starts out simple, but later levels introduce a range of humorous and interesting items to keep the nightmares busy. With over 250 different puzzles and a built-in level editor Sweet Dreams Alex will keep players busy for ages and comes highly recommended.

Gameplay: Construct labyrinths using a small selection of objects to ensure that the nightmares heading for a young girl named Alex don’t reach her in time.

Graphics: The game features beautiful pixel art visuals and the six areas in the game all have unique themes.

Sound: The lofi soundtrack is a great match for the relaxing mood of the game and the ambient sound effects also enhance the experience

Summary 8.3 Outstanding
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Sweet Dreams Alex

Developer: Clarity Games | Publisher: Kasedo Games | Release Date: 2023 | Genre: Casual / Strategy / Indie | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam

Nightmares can be terrifying, especially when you are a child, which is why in Sweet Dreams Alex it is your job to keep them away. As a “Dream Builder,” you have the ability to construct labyrinths full of distractions to ensure all those nasty nightmares keep wandering in circles until the morning. Success means that young Alex can get a restful night of slumber while failure means it’s back to the drawing board.

Sweet Dreams Alex is a charming puzzle and construction game with a premise that will be very familiar to fans of the tower defense genre. However, instead of violence and traps, the solution to the more than 250 hand-crafted puzzles in this game is labyrinths and distractions. The levels are split into six different worlds and we were surprised by just how many new and unique mechanics are introduced in each one. For example, the tutorial world is themed around Alex and her family moving into a new home, so the levels require players to build mazes out of cardboard boxes. Alex’s slice-of-life story is told via diaries that can be found on some levels and the entries by her as well as various family members explain why she is dreaming about certain themes. Whether it’s dealing with things like starting school, getting a cat, or simply friendship, these diary entries are heartfelt and delightful.

Each level in the game sees Alex sleeping peacefully in her bed before a nightmare portal appears from which a nightmare will make a beeline for her. Players can take as much time as they want to alter the layout of the level in such a way that the nightmare won’t reach Alex too quickly. Once satisfied with their handiwork, players can start the clock, which has a sixty-second countdown. If the nightmare fails to reach Alex before the time runs out players get to move on to the next level, but if not they can go back and tweak things before trying again. The game also does not allow players to block access to Alex completely, as this will anger the nightmares too much.

The first set of levels starts quite easy as players are guided by a friendly teddy bear that explains their task and how to best accomplish it. The complexity of the levels gradually ramps up, though, and soon players are required to carefully manipulate the paths of nightmares using a variety of interesting and unique tools. This means that in the street levels players can plonk down pedestrian crossings and traffic lights to provide nightmares with the most longwinded route while the playground levels feature all manner of ladders, slides, and bridges. One of our favorite sets is the mall levels where players can put down shops in the shapes of Tetris blocks to create routes for the nightmares. One of the most unique sets happens underwater where Alex dreams about the ocean after a visit to an aquarium. Here players must take things like currents into consideration while putting down various underwater critters that can move about and block the routes of the nightmares. We found the ocean museum levels to be amongst some of the trickiest in the game as they require timing and having to keep track of multiple moving elements. The levels also take a sci-fi twist after Alex becomes hooked on the Spacegirl Sam television series and dreams of spaceships filled with robots and teleporters.

Each set of levels in Sweet Dreams Aelx features a cohesive theme and elements, which are then combined in the final area of the game. This area is the most surreal as it throws together all the themes, styles, and objects making for puzzles that require a bit more lateral thinking. Some levels have multiple portals, which means Nightmares will try and descend on Alex from different directions, which complicates matters a bit. There are also different types of nightmares, ranging from the common green ones to faster yellow and red variations. Another interesting twist is the appearance of good dreams on some levels. These take the form of ice creams and the goal is to ensure that they reach Alex before the timer runs out. Although not necessary for the successful completion of the level it is quite satisfying to lead the nightmares on a merry chase while guiding the good dreams to Alex on time. Later levels even allow players to turn nightmares into good dreams by tempting them with hats, sunglasses, balloons, and ice cream.

Sweet Dreams Alex can get quite tricky, but because it is so charming and relaxing it rarely feels too frustrating. It is also quite accommodating to players of all skill levels as it has a built-in hint system and the option to skip levels. In addition, it is not necessary to complete all the levels in an area before being allowed to move on to the next. However, players who want to test their skills can get achievements for completing all the main levels in an area, collecting all the good dreams in an area, and completing all the levels in an area.

Visually, Sweet Dreams Alex makes good use of pixel art to depict the dreamworld of the protagonist. It is even possible to customize the appearance of Alex as well as her room, which is a nice touch. The game is viewed from an overhead perspective and apart from a few instances where we would have liked to be able to rotate the view, we had no trouble constructing the mazes. Each set of levels is very distinct visually and the number of different objects players can use is quite impressive. Thankfully, the game does limit the number and types of objects per level to prevent things from being too overwhelming. These items are displayed on the left side of the screen while the right is reserved for the stop, start, pause, and speed buttons. Alex’s room serves as the hub area where players can customize her appearance and room decor while her diary is used to choose levels. The levels are laid out like constellations, which can be a little confusing at first, but clicking on the stars reveals things like the level number and other useful information.

As befitting of such a charming puzzle game Sweet Dreams Alex contains over an hour of music by Lofi artist edelwize. These tunes are a perfect match for the pixel art aesthetic of the game and keep players relaxed even when things become a little frustrating. The sound effects and ambient sounds also help round out the audio. Sweet Dreams Alex is played with a keyboard and mouse, so everything feels responsive and intuitive. Objects can be picked up and placed with a left click while the right mouse button is reserved for removing items. Some items can also be rotated and have their states change from open to closed and vice versa. The game even features some handy hotkeys for functions like copying and pasting entire sections or deleting mistakes. The game does not allow players to make any alterations while the action is paused, but the speed can be set up to eight times faster for those who are impatient to see if their solutions worked.

Overall, Sweet Dreams Alex is a breath of fresh air in the tower defense genre and the game is packed with enough content to keep players busy for ages. It took us hours to complete the campaign and that’s without perfecting all of the levels. Some levels are definitely easier than others, especially the ones that introduce new objects, but the game is not scared of ramping up the challenge. The only downside is that with so many levels per area, the game can become a little repetitive if played for hours on end. The solutions to some levels also felt a little more rigid than others, but figuring out what needs to be done is always immensely satisfying. In addition, the developers were kind enough to include a level editor with the game too and sharing levels is as easy as copying an import and export code. Players who prefer a cerebral challenge over games that require quick reflexes or are in search of a non-violent tower defense game should definitely not pass up on Sweet Dreams Alex.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7, 8 or 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 2.00 GHz or AMD equivalent
  • Memory: 500 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX950
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Any
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 3.00GHz or AMD equivalent
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX970
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Any
  • Memory: 500 GB RAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 14.4
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 2.00 GHz or AMD equivalent
  • Memory: 500 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX950
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Any
  • OS: Ubuntu 14.4
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 3.00GHz or AMD equivalent
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX970
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Any

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