Also On: PC, PS4
Publisher: Bitforge AG
Developer: Etter Studio
I fell in love with Dreii from the very first moment I started playing it.
This is probably an odder admission than it should be, in more ways than one. First off — at least from my perspective — it doesn't seem like it should be an easy game to love. Dreii's graphics are sparse, its gameplay minimalistic, and its soundtrack off-kilter and dissonant. If anything, it almost seems designed to be as off-putting as possible to new players, as if it wants you to have to take some time before you can become accustomed to its off-key rhythms.
As I said, though, in my case, it was love at first sight. The soundtrack may be a little atonal, but I loved it anyway — something about the random squawks and squeaks just made it seem more heartfelt, in my ears. Likewise, while the graphics may consist primarily of shapes on top of solid pastel backgrounds, I thought it popped off the Vita's screen, with the added bonus of the relative lack of clutter being well-suited to the smaller screen size. Most importantly, the gameplay — which consists of balancing those aforementioned shapes on top of each other in order to reach specific dots on the screen — is an ideal match for gaming on the go, with short levels and a control scheme that makes use of the Vita's combination of touch and button controls.
None of those things, admittedly, are that odd. While I can't imagine a world in which Dreii became a mainstream hit, I'm not going to pretend that it's so quirky or idiosyncratic that I can't imagine anyone else liking it.
What I do doubt, however, is that anyone else who loves Dreii played it as incorrectly as I did.
See, at its heart, Dreii is a multiplayer game. You're supposed to solve its puzzles with other players, but without the benefit of verbal communication. In this respect, it's a little reminiscent of Ibb and Obb, that odd little PS3/PC platformer from a few years ago whose big hook was that you had to wordlessly collaborate with other players.
I somehow didn't know this at all. I played it entirely solo, solving the puzzles all by my lonesome. Occasionally I found the odd level to be a little challenging, but it was never so hard that I felt like it was impossible. I only learned Dreii was supposed to be played with other people when I sat down to write this review — which, I admit, is a major oversight on my part.
But you know what? Given that the primary complaint against the game (judging from Metacritic) seems to be a sparsely-populated online community, I regret nothing apart from my lousy reading comprehension. I got a fantastic experience out of it, and I did so without feeling like I was missing out some fundamental aspect of the game. If you want some amazing online experience, I can't tell you whether Dreii provides it — but I can say without a doubt that if you're after a great solo game, Dreii absolutely delivers.