You probably experienced lucid dreaming at least once in your life. It’s a uniquely magical experience like no other and makes you feel like you have superpowers. Even popular culture tackled this notion through movies like Nightmare on Elm Street where a bunch of teenagers had to take control of their dreams and beat the monster, Freddy Krueger. But in real life, lucid dreams are not so easy to grasp and they usually happen on their own. Maybe this inability of humans to take control of this makes them believe that there is something mystical going on, power from another reality like Sandman.
Fntastic’s Radiant One is all about lucid dreams but with a horror approach to the topic that might scare you off trying to figure out how to control your dreams. The game is available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS since July last year and it has mostly positive reviews on Steam.
Radiant One is about Daniel who lives a boring life and is sick and tired of social media. Basically, in part or wholly, one of us. But one day, Daniel finds a book about lucid dreams and decides to try taking control of what he is dreaming. Soon enough, he is able to do amazing things in the dream world like flying or creating the world. However, one day Daniel’s dreams turn into nightmares with cloaked figures chasing him around and him waking up with open wounds. That is the moment that Daniel figures out something is off and that some other power has taken control of his dream world. And it’s up to players to help Daniel escape the horrors that plague his dreams and survive.
This is not a long game at all. If you play it at the standard pace, you can finish it in around an hour and the ending is satisfying (or at least I think so). In a way, you just begin to settle in the gameplay when you reach the end and it leaves you wanting for more. However, it’s not the game’s shortness that compels you, but the story-driven narrative. Radiant One not once presumes to be bigger than it is, and that is why I found it so refreshing and charming, even though it was unnerving quite a bit thanks to Daniel’s disturbing nightmares.
Controls include point and click practice, but you will also have situations for swiping and taping although not too many. In a way, this makes this game easy to control and I like when I see that since it means that anyone will quickly learn the mechanics and be able to play.
When it comes to atmosphere, it is definitely defined by music. Just like in any good horror, music also serves here to accentuate the confrontation with ghoulish figures or emphasizes your lucid dreaming. Also, the graphics here are neatly designed and it’s very smartly developed so that areas correspond to the atmosphere. Details are all around and you can practically stare in Daniel’s apartment for longer than the game lasts in order to figure out all the stuff he has.
What is truly touching about Radiant One, however, is that it tells a story of a depressed man who is searching for a way to fight his demons. However, the escape turns out to be an even bigger horror that Daniel now has to escape and save his life. I am really glad how the developer dealt with depression and was successful to show what Daniel is feeling in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma regarding depression and anxiety in the society so every voice that unapologetically tells a story about it is welcomed. In Radiant One, Daniel finds an escape in lucid dreams, but in the real world, people turn to certain forms of addiction in order to purge themselves. Both forms of escapism are not solutions for depression and that is what Radiant One tries to say to its audience and the world.
In the end, this is a good game that once again proved how much heart can an indie title have. You will stay focused on the game until the end and left wondering whether there will be a sequel. And I mean this as a positive aspect of the game.
Radiant One is currently free for iOS devices while on Steam you will have to pay $3.99 for Microsoft and Mac OS X versions. So grab your devices and get yourself a copy. It will be an exciting hour of your life.