Indie Review Visual Novel

DreamCatcher: Reflections Volume 1 – Review

Since this is my first review with NookGaming, I wanted to start off with a game whose premise captured my attention, something I knew would interest me if the delivery was good. Since I’m a longtime fantasy fan, DreamCatcher: Reflections immediately jumped out at me from the indie game lineup. Unusually among visual novels, it’s an adaptation of a webcomic, a fantasy action adventure, and I was interested to see how that would play out in visual novel form.

Unfortunately, the answer was “not that well.” Rather than pulling me in as an adventure, I actually found it more interesting as a showcase of all the little elements which go into making a story work as a visual novel, and how much a game can suffer if they’re out of place.


To start with the game’s most noteworthy feature, DreamCatcher’s game page boasts an unlockable gallery with approximately 250 CG images, an absolutely massive amount of CG art for a visual novel of its length. Although a lot of these are actually variations on a smaller number of base images, even accounting for that, the game still features a really unusual number of CGs. Compared to the average indie VN, the sheer quantity of artwork invested into DreamCatcher: Reflections is dramatically greater.

DreamCatcher: Reflections Volume 1 - CGThere are a lot of these

What it gains in sheer volume of art though, it loses in poor interplay between the visuals and the narration. The script feels as if it was written without reference to the visual cues that were going to accompany it. The results are sometimes repetitive, sometimes inconsistent in tone, and often just plain awkward.

DreamCatcher: Reflections Volume 1 - Dreamcatcher

The amount of artwork which went into the game’s CGs could have provided a huge range of sprite art for flexible and expressive conversations, but instead, where the game actually relies on it, the sprite work is limited enough to leave conversations feeling stiff. Even apart from the poses and expressions, the placement of the sprites themselves is awkward. Rather than using a first-person viewpoint, the main character has full sprite art, so there are usually at least two characters on screen in each scene, and the sprites are always arranged at maximum distance apart across the screen. As a result, I struggled to actually pay attention to the pose and expression changes of more than one character at a time.

DreamCatcher: Reflections Volume 1 - Graduation

Starting in the third chapter, the game also starts using CGs which feature the characters as backgrounds, and putting the character sprites on top of them. This can’t possibly have been an accident on the developer’s part, but as a deliberate design choice, I don’t think it was a great idea.

Dog Girl

Overall, the coordination between the game’s visuals and the text was weak enough that the parts which felt best put together to me were the CGs that depicted action elements without narration, and the journal segments which described between-chapter events in the text without illustration.


The game’s soundtrack is the only element not credited to the lead developer. It’s put together from royalty-free resources from multiple sources, but the pieces are on the whole competently made. The use they’re put to is a different matter though. The transitions between tracks are frequently awkward and abrupt, with some tracks playing in short snippets in the middle of conversations which just don’t last long enough to sustain a proper music transition. 

The game has no voice acting, which I think is a perfectly respectable choice given the high cost of good quality voice acting. It does, however, have a little “bing” sound effect which plays, without variation, at the beginning of every dialogue line in the game, and I’m not sure why the developer felt that was called for. Eventually, I found it more comfortable to simply play with the sound off.


The store page of DreamCatcher: Reflections gives a basic synopsis of the story. The protagonist is summoned to a different world, where she’s told that she’s apparently one of the “Dreamers” of legend and that she and the others must have been summoned to this world for a purpose- but nobody is sure what that purpose actually is. She sets off on a journey to find the other Dreamers, and uncover the purpose they were summoned for before it’s too late.

DreamCatcher: Reflections - Far Apart Sprites

I’ve learned what an Ignae is, but nothing about what Luna was doing with her life before she dropped everything to join the quest.

Somehow, the game managed to spend five chapters more focused on infodumping than character development, and by the end of them, I still couldn’t tell you much about the plot that wasn’t introduced in the synopsis. I’m still as ignorant as I started about why the Dreamers were summoned, or what sort of threat they’re supposed to face. An antagonist was introduced in one chapter. He has a boss. But, no information is forthcoming on what they’re actually trying to accomplish, and that’s roughly the sum total of what I learned about the overarching narrative in this volume.

Good question.

Most of the story of the first volume consists of assembling a party of travelers for the central quest. In fitting with an adventure where none of them knows the actual objective, none of them have any clearly established motives either. The main character wants to go on an adventure because it’s more interesting than her everyday life, and the others seem to be successfully nagged into joining her because they don’t actually have anything better to do.

Help Strangers

Thankfully, I live my entire life ready to drop everything to join an unspecified quest with total strangers.

While many visual novels are written in a first-person viewpoint, and allow the audience to become intimately acquainted with the internal life of the main character, this title swaps focus occasionally but is written in a third-person perspective which rarely offers much of a window into any of the characters’ thoughts or feelings. Comparing it with its source material, it actually features less exploration of the characters’ inner lives than the original webcomic, which at least featured liberal use of thought bubbles. Mostly, we have to get to know the cast via their words and actions. But their behavior and conversations feel more than a little unnatural.

Each of the characters has a few signature quirks or personality traits, backstories for a couple of the protagonists are teased at, but actual character exploration is largely absent. After the third chapter, the protagonists spend two months traveling together. In this time, they presumably get to know each other and bond in an interval which is passed over with a timeskip. This then returns to exposition dumping on their return to focus. At one point, the protagonist manifests unexplained special powers with no foreshadowing other than the fact that she’s one of the legendary Dreamers, and this is never discussed or brought up again in any way for the remainder of the volume. The characters all feel about as defined and developed by the end of the story as they do on first introduction, less like people than character profiles given lines.


DreamCatcher: Reflections is a relatively low-profile indie game, I strongly considered not completing this review at all. I’d much rather have covered a hidden gem I could have directed readers to who wouldn’t have found it otherwise. Pointing out the flaws in a game that few people would have played otherwise, even a commercial game (and DreamCatcher: Reflections Vol. 1’s $5/£4 price tag is actually fairly substantial when you compare its length to other commercial games,) feels rather pointless in comparison, maybe even meanspirited. But since I committed to reviewing it, I can only say that if the game page doesn’t have you completely sold that this is the game for you, I wouldn’t recommend it. At least I hope this review can serve as a benchmark so that when I do recommend other games, it’ll be clear that I’m praising them sincerely.


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