Review: Dreii (PS4/PSV)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible No
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play Yes*
  • Cross-Chat No

* Cross-Play with all systems

Title: Dreii
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4 184.5 MB) (PSV 138.6 MB)
Release Date: March 9, 2016
Publisher: Bitforge AG
Developer: Etter Studio
Original MSRP: $11.99 (US), €11.99 (EU), £9.49 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Dreii is also available on Xbox One, Wii U, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Let me get the bad parts out of the way first. The game has crashed on me several times which might be due to the PS4 firmware being in Beta. It isn’t a likely cause, but I couldn’t rule it out. That’s it, there is nothing else that ruins the game aside from the occasional random player, but I’ll focus on that in the Online section of this review.

The aim of the game is to construct a tower using certain predefined shapes. You can only pick up one object at a time with an intuitive and simplistic control scheme that works well on both the PlayStation 4 and Vita. There are no instructions or tutorials per se, yet you will instinctively know what to do and the gentle progression and complexity of the puzzles allows for a gradual understanding.

The level layout is akin to a segmented star chart, with lines joining your completed levels. These sometimes split in two from a completed puzzle and offer a choice of avenues to explore. One path might be designed for more than one player or have a splash of change to the current puzzle formula.

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There are no time limits, although a few levels feature rain and wind. At a set interval a gust blows across the screen causing any structure you have made to become unstable and usually collapse, much to the dismay of any players on said level. This force of nature seems to serve as a cruel perverse humour that usually causes a momentary stare at the work that now lays in ruins on the cold hard floor.

Dreii is not just about building a structure to a precise point in space, but ensuring it remains there for a few nerve-wracking seconds. Precision and care are requirements in every puzzle, feats that are slightly more difficult to achieve on the Vita with its smaller analog sticks, harder still if you opt to use the touch screen. Dreii does not allow for Cross-Save, even though it shares a trophy list. Therefore, I decided to play the majority of the game on the PlayStation 4.

… focus on the physics based puzzles …
Now before I venture into the main draw of the game in the Online and Multiplayer section I would like to mention the difficulty. Some levels beg for a little experimentation with the pieces but most, after a moment or two, are easy to realise the solution. Putting it into practise is also a simple affair.

Visuals:
As you can see by the images, Dreii keeps things simple, allowing you to focus on the physics based puzzles and distinctive avatars. Even the play area is encased between invisible barriers that only appear when a shape glances them. This means you don’t lose any objects and you aren’t distracted by anything, like walls.

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Your avatar is unique to you. Although I have seen similar designs, I’m sure the color and pattern differs between each one. You cannot upgrade or alter this odd character and I’m fine with that.

Audio:
Your avatar also has a unique sound and combined with others it can all sound very strange indeed. If there are enough players, your ears are treated to – or bombarded with – a cacophony of bells, chimes, sloshing water, and more. After many hours of play I still don’t know if I like it or not.

… trolls and destructive players seem to steer clear of this unique experience …
Online/Multiplayer:
Unless you sign out of the PlayStation Network you will encounter random players from across the entire Dreii ecosystem, much like a popular game where you embark on a journey. Players have no control in this and anyone could drop into your game or you could end up in theirs. Now that is not strictly true as you can sometimes see other dots orbiting levels. Loading that level lets you join their game.

The developers have taken Cross-Play to the next level where you can theoretically join any player no matter what system they’re playing. Cross-Play with a PC or Mac player is not unheard of but to play with a mobile device or a Wii U is something new. Does it work? I do not know, for I could not tell who I was playing with.

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I have joined a level as it was moments from completion. I had little time to blink and it was over and we were on to the next. Another occasion I recall a player joined my game, and much to my dismay, ruined the almost complete puzzle. It might have been by accident but there was something in those black avatar eyes.

For the most part the trolls and destructive players seem to steer clear of this unique experience. It seems to foster a collaboration between gamers as you only have a set and structured form of communication that slowly builds as you play more and more levels.

When the Cross-Play works and you join other players, it can be very entertaining and fun. Everyone is trying to figure things out, fighting over a piece, or the stunned silence when something goes wrong. It is moments like this that make Dreii a great social experience.

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Conclusion:
This social puzzle game has grand designs, many of which it achieves. Sadly, it does not always work as it should, with occasional game freezing, graphical stuttering as it loads, and the social aspect not always putting players together. Nevertheless, I can get past most of the issues because when it works, it works great.

Yes, Dreii might borrow an idea from another game but it nurtures that component and helps to expand upon that very simplistic way of social interaction. No matter what system or language you speak, everyone can play together. Cross-Buy makes it a good value game, but Cross-Play makes it a unique and fun social experience that everyone should check out.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

PS Vita Screenshots

PS4 Screenshots

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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