Yume Nikki is a 32-Bit freeware game created by Kikiyama, a Japanese solo game designer. The game was made using RPGMaker 2003. The game is regarded as one of the most original applications of RPGMaker 2003, and the start of a possible new genre of games.
"Yume Nikki" means "Dream Diary" in Japanese, and the game follows a young girl named Madotsuki as she dreams. The goal is to seek out and acquire all 24 'Effects'.
The game otherwise has no plot, and nearly the entire game is left up to speculation.
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As a game it's difficult to evaluate Yume Nikki for me, since it's purely exploration of the world and everything in it is largely up to you interpret it how you will. And I don't think it would work any other way. Keeping it abstract, vague and minimal is why it is so good.
There is a loose objective to collect all the effects and unlock the ending, but I don't think it's the ending that makes this game special. Figuring out the history of Madotsuki and the reasons for her reclusive behaviour from the surreal landscapes and events in her dreams are the essential part of the journey. Whether it's from your own theories or engaging with other peoples interpretations.
It's a haunting experience. One that's always persisted on the back of my mind - now for over a decade. Every once in a while popping back to the surface. And I can't speak this way for many other games out there - if any. The 5 star rating is really for the game, the legacy surrounding it and its fandom. Which is easily the greatest on the internet. It's amazing this mysterious indie piece from 2 decades ago has influenced some of the most beloved indie titles today!
Happy 18th anniversary Yume Nikki.
As a game, this is a solid 3 stars; it's aimless, sometimes dull, often frustrating, always unsettling. But it shouldn't be judged as a game but as a work of art; specifically, a work of art about a deeply troubled young girl and her subconscious's attempts to make sense of her world. In this context, everything that makes it a subpar game is a benefit: the aimlessness turns from a mark of bad game design to a very intentional way to display a child's lack of focus and struggle with connection. It's dull in moments because so is existing with mental illness or trauma. It's frustrating because so is being alive for Madotsuki. And despite never truly learning about the world outside of her door, what we see in her subconscious doesn't paint a pretty picture.
I see a lot of talk about games with intentional friction; games that don't want you to complete them or that, at the very least, don't really help you get there. Yume Nikki is one such game, and not because the dev aimed to take any kind of difficulty crown, but because the only way to tell this story is to make it something of a miserable ride. I can't give it five stars as a game, but it's a really striking work of art. Even if the gameplay doesn't appeal to you, I do highly recommend all horror fans give it a watch someplace.
The song "The Place" from EarthBound is a haunting and melancholy piece that speaks to the themes of loss and displacement that are present in Yume Nikki. The lyrics talk about a place that is no longer there, and how the narrator is struggling to cope with the loss. This can be seen as a metaphor for the loss of a loved one, or for the loss of a home or community. The song speaks to the feeling of being lost and alone, and how hard it can be to find a sense of belonging when everything has changed. The lyrics also have a political edge, as they talk about how the world is a dark and scary place, and how people are hurt by the violence and hatred that is present in society. This ties into Yume Nikki's themes of isolation and mental health, as the protagonist is struggling to deal with the darkness that she sees around her. The song "The Place" is a powerful and emotional piece that speaks to the themes of loss, displacement, and isolation that are present in Yume Nikki.