LSD: DREAM EMULATOR / Asmik / Sony PlayStation
So ... LSD takes plains to make it clear on the title screen that "LSD" is meant to stand for "Linked Sapient Dream" and a few other similarly innocuous things. It's apparently based on the "dream journal" that one of the designers kept over a period of 10 years. But the game has more than its fair share of bright psychedelic lights, random snippets of annoying music that won't stop repeating, and crazy creatures materializing out of nowhere. Wink's as good as a nod, Asmik, wink's as good as a nod.

Your first "dream" starts you out in a traditional Japanese house, facing a window. You'll soon find that the confines of the house are small, but bumping into certain objects and walking past certain points causes you to teleport to an entirely new area. There's 10 or 12 of these areas, ranging from a Japanese city at night with a disturbing amount of dead people scattered about, to a happy psychedelic funland, to a vast desert.

There's really no particular "goal" or "point" to the game other than to wander about and see what it has to offer. The closest thing to a "goal" is the mysterious Grid, in which a square is filled in after the completion of each dream. You reportedly have 365 in-game days before your "dream stats" are wiped out, you get some sort of an ending video and have to begin the process anew, but I'm not even sure that the Grid is confined to only 365 squares, and I couldn't find any reports on the interbutts of anyone actually filling it up.

The only reason to play LSD is for its own sake, for exploration, and to maybe try to unravel what the developers were thinking or if there's some greater point/story behind all this. The game's areas retain their same basic architecture upon each visit, but everything else is up for grabs. Wall and floor textures change, creatures and vehicles sometimes appear out of nowhere. In one area that I had visited a number of times, I found upon starting a new dream that one of the hallways I previously could walk down began endlessly looping. Upon turning around and going another direction, the game started randomly teleporting me back to the beginning a few times before kicking me out of the dream entirely. Sometimes beginning a new dream will get you a rather random video clip that lasts 1 or 2 minutes instead; I'm not entirely sure, but this seems to be tied to touching certain unique objects in the previous dream.

The only real "challenge" to speak of is in not bumping into things in tight corridors so that you get teleported out of an area (or out of the dream entirely) before you're ready. Certain characters and animals will sometimes charge you when you get close (sometimes in disturbing ways) but contact generally just teleports you to another area. The one antagonist-ish character is the mysterious Grey Man, a figure in a hat and trenchcoat who sometimes appears and slowly stalks you. If he makes contact, it ends the dream, but you also temporarily lose your "Flashback" ability to revisit previous dreamscapes in the exact state you left them in (Flashback is gained after 20 dreams have been completed). That's about all the more he can do to you, though, and he's pretty easily avoided.

I can appreciate a game that doesn't have tangible measures of progress and doesn't rely on killing things to hold interest. I do like the concept, but I can't help but feel it's a bit wasted on the early 3D of the PS1. You're very limited in your interaction with the blocky old-school world, only being able to walk, run, strafe and look to the left and right. You can't even click on things to interact with them, just run face-first into them to see if they teleport you somewhere else or change the overall ambience of your dream. Saving this for the PS2 or beyond probably could have greatly expanded the ways in which the player could engage with the world. Of course, this is also the type of extremely experimental game that no major publisher would have dared put out past the early-mid 2000s or so, so had they waited we might never have seen it at all.
                                            Why am I dreaming of Xenogears?
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