Game Reviews, Gaming

Niche RPG Time: Dreaming Mary

Niche RPG Time: Dreaming Mary

The History of Dreaming Mary

Dreaming Mary was released on the 17th of April 2014, by Accha. Due to the game’s moderate success, a sequel was planned, however, as of writing this article, the game has unfortunately been left on an indefinite hiatus.

The Story And Gameplay Part 1: Getting acquainted

Dreaming Mary follows our titular main character, Mary, as the game opens with a radio talking about her dream, put a pin in this, we’ll get back to that later. After that, you found that the room you start in is locked, foreshadowing many great things to come I’m sure. Never fear though! Mary has found some chocolate on her bed!

Unfortunately for our harrowing protagonist, it appears that whoever put the chocolate there thought it was still Halloween, as the key to leave the room is hidden inside. Nice prank bro.

Anyways, as soon as we leave the room, we are met with three visible doors, and one locked door at the end of the hallway. Attempting to enter any door but the first yields no results except a text box, so we head through the first door.

Inside the first room is a bunny done up in a traditional maid outfit, with a few empty podiums. She introduces herself as Bunnilda and seems happy to see Mary, she talks for a little bit before telling Mary to go see Penn Guindel.

After this, the second door is now openable, and inside we meet a fancy penguin reading a book, clearly sitting in a library, he is the aforementioned Penn Guindel, and, much like Bunnilda, is happy to see Mary.

After speaking with Penn Guindel for a little bit, we are now asked to go see Foxanne. Doing a similar thing from before, the game now allows you to enter the third room. Entering the third room, we are met with a bar. Something every 9-year-old dreams about I’m sure. Inside is a fox dressed like a flapper, who is, of course, Foxanne.

Much like Penn Guindel and Bunnilda, Foxanne is happy to see you, however, after her little chat, you’re told to go find someone named Boaris. Now heading back to the hallway, the fourth door is now openable, and once inside, things get a little odd.

The room itself isn’t as comfortable or enticing as the previous three rooms, it appears to be some kind of garden, with grass and a giant tree in the centre, the colours are also a lot less pastel and a lot more saturated, which feels out of place with the rest of the rooms. And unlike the other three characters we’ve met so far, Boaris is kind of weird.

He’s very happy to see Mary, almost a little too happy. And the way he talks about Mary being a “good girl” really served to creep me out. But hey, maybe I’m just being judgmental. After talking with Boaris, he instructs us to go back to our other three friends saying he and Mary can have “our own special time later.” Ew.

The Story And Gameplay Part 2: The puzzle round.

After escaping the creepy boar, we go back to Bunnilda, she now has a puzzle for us to solve, she asks us to arrange some statues based on a story she told us, once we’re done, we then go to Penn Guindel, who asks us to find a book for him, and after completing that, we see Foxanne, who challenges us to a simple game of hide and seek in the bar.

These puzzles aren’t that difficult, and there is no punishment for failing, all you do is keep trying until you get it right. After finishing Foxanne’s game, we are forced to go back to Boaris, to which he continues to make me dislike him by being creepy, so nothing new there.

Once again, we escape the creepiness that is Boaris and go back to play with the three normal animals once again, though the puzzles are slightly different, they’re still not very complex or hard, just changed enough to keep the player engaged.

The Story And Gameplay Part 3: The cracks

After being forced back to Boaris a third time, this time he asks us to get seeds from our friends (an item that has way too many connotations if you ask me.) saying that if we do, we can go deeper into the dream.

After leaving Boaris once again, we tell our friends we want a seed from them, all of them seeming rather upset that Mary wants to leave. These final puzzles are a bit different, if you fail them, the animals will take away one of Mary’s flower petals, (which are displayed at the top of the screen), you’ll still get a seed from them either way, however.

Going over the final puzzles, Bunnilda asks you a question from the story she’s been relaying to you through the puzzles, while it is possible to just guess the answer, it’s not very obvious what the answer is, and things get even weirder once you fail.

Bunnilda will gleefully say Mary is wrong, taking a petal from her, saying that since she’s been a “good girl” (because of course she says the same thing as Boaris.) she’ll give you the seed either way. After obtaining the seed, Bunnilda will disappear, along with the music, as a blurry figure appearing to be falling can be seen if the player waits around for long enough.

We’ll skip over to Foxanne, as Penn Guindel is a little more interesting. Foxanne challenges us to one more game of hide and seek. However this time, we only have ten seconds to find her, and there are no clues as to where she is. After failing, Foxanne will laugh in our face, mocking us for failing the puzzle, however, much like Bunnilda, she will hand over the seed as well.

Once again, the music and Foxxane disappear, leaving only a blurry shadow that only appears for a split second, which appears to be someone sitting on the barstool Foxanne was on, watching Mary leave.

Finally, Penn Guindel will tell Mary that he has lost a journal, he tells you it was written by someone called Ana, but asks you who it was written for. There is no way to get this answer right, as the journal in question is not present anywhere in the game.

After failing Penn Guindel’s puzzle, unlike Bunnilda and Foxxane, he acts regretful that he must take a petal from Mary, before leaving, he advises Mary that next time she enters the dream. to find the angel, before disappearing. Much like with the other two, Penn Guindel and the music disappear, leaving only a black figure sitting in his place, the most disturbing part being that it appears to have been decapitated. Yikes.

After making the trail back to Boaris, there’s something different. The music now has a tapping noise, intercut with someone cooing “good girl”, as if I didn’t need more reasons to distrust Boaris. Personal feelings aside, Boraris will now ask you for your final petal, something I’m sure has raised everyone’s alarm bells after what we’ve just witnessed.

Now, personally, I wouldn’t be doing anything this creep of an anthropomorphic boar says, however, to get the normal ending, we hand over the petal willing and follow Boaris into the tree. This will then start the credits, with the ending being “Goodnight Mary”.

The Story And Gameplay Part 4: Another chance

After the credits, a voice calls out to a girl named Mari, asking if she is satisfied. If the player chooses no, then the voice gives us another chance to not follow Boaris into the tree. A perfect existence if you ask me. Anyways, the disembodied voice puts us back at the start of the game.

If you remember me saying earlier, there is a radio that plays at the start of the game, a lot of the things this radio says are actually incredibly misleading, for example, telling you to “Ignore [Penn Guindel] as he confused fiction with reality.” When in actuality, Penn Guindel might be the only animal who is genuinely looking out for Mary.

Ignoring the radio further, we look for another door in the hallway, that just so happens to be hidden by a black blob. Upon examining said door, we are taken to a completely white room, with only a painting and a fish bowl inside. Inside the fish bowl is a Sea Angel, once again disregarding the radio, we touch the bowl to let Sea Angel out.

After exiting the room, we find that the sea angel has flown towards our pink room, not really having much else to do, we play the game as normal. Until Boaris asks us for seeds again.

The Story And Gameplay Part 5: Dreaming Nightmares

Instead of asking our animal friends for seeds immediately, this time we touch the painting in our room, further pissing off the radio voice as we disregard their advice. After touching the painting, we are transported to a much emptier-looking room than our previous pink one.

The book on the desk informs us that we can run by holding shift, a red flag if I’ve ever seen one, not only that but the book also tells us we should always run, which is an even bigger red flag. Regardless, we press on to find the door replacing our pink bedroom door is locked. Hmm, I’m getting a sense of Deja Vu here.

Instead of biting into another key-lased chocolate bar, however, you instead must grab the key from the already unlocked door in the pink world. I’m unsure how you’re supposed to figure this out, but let’s just roll with it. After getting the door opened, you will be met with three stuffed animals, a rabbit, a penguin and a fox. Seems familiar.

Checking each of them will give you the answer to solve their final puzzles. The bunny has pages scattered about of the story Bunnilda was telling you about. The penguin has the name of the person that the journal Penn Guindel wants was written for Glenn. And the fox has directions to where to find Foxxane to find her doing the final hide and seek.

After exiting the area and heading to the black hole in the wall that was the painting, the room will experience a blackout, with Mary and a strange figure in the window only being visible. Admittedly, this one did get me the first time, good jumpscare Accha.

After returning to the pink dream, we can now obtain the seeds from all of our friends without the need for failure or them taking a flower petal. This time, Bunnilda and Foxanne are a lot nicer and hand over the seed without complaint, however, Penn Guindel is especially happy, telling Mary “No matter how frightening things may be, I know that you can pull through.” which really shows how much he cares for her.

The Story And Gameplay Part 6: Facing Boaris

After collecting all the seeds, we can now go back to Boaris, which is where the rest of the endings come from. If you choose to go with Boaris, then the true ending will occur, in which a disturbing scene will play.

After Mary enters the tree, someone, who sounds exactly like the cooing from before we entered the tree will say “Good girl. Sweet girl. You’re mine.” which can only be inferred to be coming from Boaris, not only that, but we see hands reaching out of the darkness, which look like they’d belong to Mary, almost as if they’re trying to get out.

The same end credits from the above-mentioned ending will play except this time it will say “The beginning of a nightmare.” before the goodnight Mary.

Once again, the voice from before asks us if we are satisfied, and saying no allows us to do one more thing differently. Say no to Boaris.

This is where a lot of the comments Boaris has been making start to click. Boaris gets enraged if you say no to him, telling Mary there isn’t anything else to do and tries to manipulate Mary into believing she can only wake up and lose everything. There is something we can do, however, going back to the darker bedroom, the atmosphere beyond the door is much, MUCH more disturbing.

All the stuffed animals have been torn up, and we now have to run from a demonic shadow creature. And getting caught by this thing might be one of the most disturbing game-overs in video game history. I really don’t want to spoil it, so, if you’re interested, look into it yourself, however, just know that it is implied to be Boaris as it uses the same good girl audio track that is used in his area.

In order to progress, you must carefully inspect the three animals and take the keys out of them. Once we grab them, we need to run like hell away before the black creature catches us, after this, we can no longer enter the dark world through the pink painting.

Instead, we must head to the white room and use the painting there, we can end up on the other side of the black shadow. Keep running until you reach a much nicer-looking tall tree, using the three keys we got from the stuffed animals, will allow Mary to wake up.

The Story And Gameplay Part 7: Dreaming Mari

By waking up, it is revealed that Mary is actually Mari. And that the whole game was just a dream, when inspecting the door, it is revealed that Mari’s father locked the door, and judging by her reaction, this is a very common occurrence. Inspecting the penguin doll will reveal that it was a gift from her Uncle Gwendel, which yes, does mean that Penn Guiendel is a representation of her uncle.

Unfortunately, the only option at this part of the game is to go back to sleep. Leading to another disturbing ending credits sequence which I highly recommend you listen to as it does imply what exactly is going with Mari and the black shadow.

Right at the end of the credits, the voice tells Mary not to give up and that she is close to freedom. And indeed, the voice is correct, as all Mary needs to do is grab the key from the darkened bedroom used to open the door. Play through the rest as you did, and now Mari will have the key with her, which will allow her to unlock the door and escape. Don’t think too hard about this ending because it’s not the canon ending.

Story Part 8: What is the game telling us?

It’s very obviously hinted that Mari is a victim of sexual abuse, even worse. It’s heavily implied that her father is the one abusing her. As mentioned, it’s implied that the black shadow and Boaris are one in the same, and when looking through the game files, the shadow is referred to as BADDAD, spelling out for you what is going on.

Boaris’s creepy and, at times, predatory behaviour coupled with the things he says really paints a picture of someone attempting to take advantage of Mari, even without the context that he is the representation of her father.

The ending where Mari escapes could be taken as a literal interpretation or her figuratively standing up to her abusive father and running away, hopefully, to a much better place.

How does Dreaming Mary work? (Conclusion)

Dreaming Mary works because it does not force its disturbing elements on you. The game attempts to hold your hand and lead you through a predetermined path, however, if you break away from the path and find the disturbing elements, the game rewards you with more lore, and one of the most well-hidden yet disturbing depictions of sexual abuse I’ve seen in video games. Well done Accha. Well done.

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