Sunday 30 January 2022

Dare To Dream – Darn That Dream

By Will Moczarski
Last time I was stuck with nothing left to do. I had explored all of the rooms and exhausted all of my options, or so it seemed. After another bout of meticulous pixel-hunting I found not one but two new exits I had previously overlooked. And both were familiar to me. You see, I had already played through episode 2 of Dare To Dream last July right after having finished episode 1. I didn’t take many notes back then and whatever I did write down I lost in the meantime. Also, I didn’t get around to writing a blog post because, well, life got in the way. Life being my beautiful little daughter who was born last summer.

Now as she is slowly learning that nights are for sleeping I finally got around to picking up where I left off all those months ago. I always thought I had a pretty good memory. If that is true (and it’s probably not) it doesn’t apply to adventure games, I guess.So where did I rediscover two new exits? The first is a bit shameful as it’s pretty obvious. In the tall grass at the foot of the tree there is a third exit leading west. It leads to a drunken fly (a barfly maybe?) called Omar who is in possession of a bottomless bottle. I fill up my keg with it and now have a keg full of beer. Lovely! Last time I noticed that CementHead opens his mouth to yawn every few seconds so I take the opportunity to pour some beer in there. Nothing happens but Omar’s bottle is probably not bottomless for a reason, is it? I get a free refill and try the same thing again. Nothing happens. Am I missing something here? Another ingredient maybe? In order to have some closure I give it another try but the third time’s not the charm. I try popping him a shrinking pill after having poured him the beer but that doesn’t work either.

It’s all good, though, because this little detour leads to my discovery of the second previously forgotten exit. My search for another ingredient to add to the beer leads me back into the tree. There’s an empty can and an apple core but the core is too heavy for miniature me. I try to examine the can and don’t notice that I still have the shrinking pills selected and...huzzah, I can shrink even more to investigate the can more closely.
Getting drunk and getting canned I know.
I can’t enter the can (or can I?) but I find a stick inside. It is thicker and sturdier than the one I had previously. I decide to try using it on everything that seems reasonable and what do you know, I get lucky right away: when I touch the spider web with it, some web wraps itself around the stick. Now I have got a “gooey stick” that looks a lot like a torch, so I think I have an idea how to proceed. While the lit candle in Boris’s mousehole doesn’t have its own hotspot, clicking on the matches works: I now have a lit torch. But what could I use it for? Can I burn the log that’s guarded by BoneHead and CementHead? No, that’s not it. But I am able to enter the dark forest now which is where I find a strange sign nailed to a tree:
Boys don’t like the flowers
Girls tend to
Yelling at one another
Christian comes for you
Violence erupts while
Running to start anew.
There are six flowers with different colours here, and the “poem” is comprised of six verses. Also, “yelling” and “violence” are quite close to “yellow” and “violet” – I think I know what needs to be done here. I examine the blue flower first (because Dr. Octagon), then the green one, the yellow one, the cyan one, the violet one and then the red one last. The flowers all seem to be happier after I’ve touched them which is probably positive feedback. When I’m done, the vines blocking the way north (you know, those I hadn’t even noticed before) dissolve. I’ll take what I can get.

Behind the secret passage there’s a clearing with some more weird trees and two cyan rocks I can look at but they’re seemingly too heavy to interact with them. There are also some more colourful flowers but they don’t have hotspots. The only thing to do is head north which is where I find a stone gate made of the same cyan stones. I go north again and find myself in a stone garden.
I’d like to be / among debris.
What a weird place! Not only is there a stone turtle but also a stone statue of Bouf, the owner of Bouf’s bar from episode 1. Beyond the stone garden, Cliff Bleszinski’s obsession with mushrooms shines through once more as I enter the mushroom grove. There’s a cave entrance blocked by rather large rocks and I can’t move any of them. I’d need another piece of those plastic explosives. At first I’m stumped but then I remember that I can probably pop in some more pills, especially here with all those mushrooms around. Under a “psychadelic mushroom” I find a hidden button, and pressing it miraculously does away with all those rocks. The cave is called the “Cave O’ Explosives” and not for nothing. There are three crates of T.N.T. but apparently my sole reason for being here is to pick up the lone crowbar lying on one of the crates. I’m not sure if I remember this from my previous playthrough or if it’s just that plain but of course I need the crowbar to knock down the rock from the overlook. While that works it doesn’t change much and I go back to aimlessly walking around in order to find more things to do.

I check out Boris’s mousehole again because he’d promised to give me something in return for the strange fruit I brought him. He still says the same thing, though, so that’s not it. Then I check out the ant hill once more – maybe I have some use for a crowbar there. When I see the broken mirror lying on the floor I realise that I also haven’t found a use for that nail yet! Nails...where did I see nails? I wander for a bit and find that there are some nails stuck into the tree – they serve as a simple ladder of sorts. When I climb up again I see that there’s a hole where there should be a nail. I insert the nail into the hole and now I’m able to climb even higher! Up there I meet a weird little bird called Robyn. I can talk to them but they don’t have anything useful to say.

The eastern portion of the treetop is suspiciously void of hotspots, so I pixel-hunt for a while and come up with a key that Robyn must have hidden there. Picking up the key changes my dialogue options with Robyn but I can’t talk about the key to him. It’s pretty clear where it will come in handy anyway: I can unlock the ant queen’s safe with it. Inside the safe there’s a tiny ring and I decide to offer it to Lissa.
While most of the game is well-written, some parts are really juvenile.
Naturally, Lissa LOVES the ring and sends me right back to the ants because it seems that they are sitting on some more explosives. I’d never find them on my own (no hotspots) but after having wooed Lissa I have some new dialogue options with the ant queen now. After flattering her most dishonestly she tells me that the bomb is somewhere under the fruit. She could have saved me a lot of pixel-hunting in that room if she had elected to tell me earlier. A new hotspot pops up and I can pick up the “high tech bomb”.

The bomb blows up the timber and it seems that I got CementHead drunk for no reason at all. Which reminds me: I didn’t find the beer’s true purpose yet. Maybe I should pick up some more before heading to the NiteMare. On a hunch I offer the beer to Boris and now the bugger will offer me the promised gift. He needed just another present to jog his generosity. The bean is described like this: “This isn’t a jumping bean, and it sure isn’t a refried bean, but it sure looks ‘alive’. It keeps humming lullabies… maybe it’s a sleeping bean!” Interesting.

Back with BoneHead and CementHead they still won’t let me pass. Wait, is the bean meant for CementHead? That seems very likely! But it doesn’t work. When I check my inventory, though, I notice that I didn’t actually give the beer to Boris (thus no #partygate). Maybe it was a coincidence that he remembered his promise while I was carrying the beer and the trigger was really something else. On another hunch I try to pour the beer into CementHead’s mouth one more time because maybe there’s a sequence of things to do now that I have the bean. But just like in old two-word parser games simply carrying the other item does the trick and I put the bean into the beer before sending the ol’ rock into dreamland. With BoneHead incapacitated and CementHead fast asleep I can finally approach…
The NiteMare!!
I find “my” rock lying here and am very pleased to see it. Also, I can investigate the statue’s left nostril. That is kind of neat as I was primed to look hard at things’ nostrils when I needed to pull the snot from the tree’s nose (and there’s more: the theme will continue in episode 3!). Whatever I try to do, my hand cannot fit inside the tiny hole. Maybe it’s time to pop another pill! But let’s save the game first, shall we?

Session time: 1.5 hours
Total time: 7 hours, 20 minutes


  1. Interesting, I remember getting stuck in more or less the exact same places as you have back when I first played it. Except I got stuck on the flowers, because I didn't realize the poem was a clue.

    As to the juvenile nature of Lissa, I suspect that's intentional, considering it is a pre-teen's dream, who are not known for being mature and tactful.

    1. I have always struggled with poems as clues, with so many dialogue in a game it can be hard to judge what is relevant and how. And Cyan is a bit of a long shot, it's more recognized today but back then most users that were not programmers or graphics designers were not always so aware of the name Cyan. It's not the worst and you could simply deduce it through process of elimination once you identify the other colours.

    2. I found the flower puzzle quite easy because it sounded so much like "Roses are red..." to me but I can imagine that it may be a lot more difficult to come up with the solution if that is not your first association.

      Concerning Lissa: Yeah, I'm not totally convinced. It makes sense as part of Tyler's imagination but other parts are more successful in obtaining a juvenile perspective while the writing here (to me) feels a lot worse. Maybe you're right but it seemed like one of the weakest parts of the game to me.

    3. I don't actually think I played a game where a poem had a clue to a puzzle like that before, so that was probably why I had trouble with it. (I think I actually knew cyan by that point)

      On Lissa:
      I definitely agree that its the weakest part. I sort of gloss over her parts every time I've replayed the game. Doesn't help that of all the characters, she's the one who looks the worst. None of the characters are drawn really well, but she's always looked very off to me.