When you think about it, there's something incredibly creepy about the concept of lucid dreaming. I had a lucid dream, once. I was walking down a crowded street, cheerfully informing baffled people that I was dreaming, when I came across one stone-faced little girl who just looked at me and whispered, "I know." Freaky? Sure, but ultimately harmless... except in Script Welder's point-and-click adventure game Deeper Sleep, it's not quite that innocent. Following the events of the original 10th Casual Gameplay Design Competition first place winner, you've become obsessed with the concept of lucid dreaming, even though other people think you're insane. Desperate and questioning your own sanity, you go to the library late at night to see if there are records of anyone else who experienced your all-too-real nightmare... only to find out your nightmare is just beginning. No, YOU'RE A CORNY LINE.
Just click to interact. Your crosshair will expand slightly and turn green if you can interact with something, and mousing over the top of the screen will cause your inventory to drop down. You can combine items you've picked up whenever possible by clicking on first one and then the other. This time, it seems, waking up is going to be a lot harder. Something knows you're there, and all the exits are blocked. You need help, but who can you trust when you're being hunted by something you don't even understand? The question of whether Deeper Sleep is scarier than its predecessor is up for debate, especially if you're one of those people who finds that the more something is explained, the less frightening it actually is. Is it scary? Sure, with a nice balance of well-executed jump scares a more subtle, unnerving frights and chilling scenes that fill you with dread.
Visually, for the most part the game is great, and a stellar example of how comparatively "simpler" graphics can still be more than effective at frightening players in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing. Small details, like the lights of passing cars sweeping by a window or the way shadows change and dance as you sweep your flashlight across a dark classroom, create an immersive, appropriately dreamlike feel. On the other hand, in some very dark areas, the gloom and filter used can make it hard to tell what you're looking at. Fortunately, despite its setting, Deeper Sleep is mostly very logical, if not that challenging, when it comes to its gameplay. Items are not only frequently always used for their intended real world purpose, but intuitive to boot, which helps take the sting out of the frequent backtracking.
Fair warning... the game ends with a big "To be continued..." at the worst possible time, by which I mean as soon as the game really begins to pick up steam and on a huge cliffhanger. Deeper Sleep is still a chilling, wonderfully creepy game that will make the hair on your arms stand on end, and you'll wind up eager for more. Will you ever escape the darkness that hunts you in your dreams? Will the next installment have that BWUUUUUNNNNN noise from Inception? We'll have to wait to find out.