There are some genres that people think cannot be changed further. Genres that have reached as far as they are going to go. For a game to come along and innovate in a genre as tried as brick breaker must show some prowess.
Dreamstones is a hybrid between Arkanoid style gameplay, and basic city building all wrapped up in an RPG storyline. This was intriguing to me but was slightly tainted by the sheer number of shovelware on mobile that wears the skin of this style of game (albeit with match 3 gameplay). Dreamstones holds its own above the hordes of IOS games clambering to take its place. Both aspects of the gameplay are decent, but the city building aspect is more of a showcase for your progress.
The Arkanoid aspect is fun, but not without problems. It starts out with a slew of features that help differentiate itself from your average brick breaker clone. The paddle itself has powerups, where the ball lands determine its launching direction, the stages contain enemies and upon killing them you will gain XP and some gold old fashion gold pieces. Even the objective lies is in more than just breaking every block on stage. This shakeup from the norm is very interesting and helps keep me in anticipation to figure out what comes next. But sometimes it felt like the game was fighting me and actively wanted me to stop playing. This was due largely in part to the following of the paddle. The paddle tracks your mouse instead of using keys to handle paddle movement. This made the gameplay feel very twitchy, which clashes with the laid-back pace I felt the game was trying to go for.
The levels had a decent overall design but felt very much like isolated levels. This makes the transition between levels feel a bit clunky and not quite as fluid as I would like the game to be. Each level is separated into areas in which you must break all of the “nightmare stones” to beat. The levels are filled with a wide variety of blocks, enemies, and also a slightly changed art style. This does a good job of making the levels feel different from one another.
The storyline I mentioned previously is a pretty typical fantasy writing. The town got destroyed by some villain, and you must rebuild it all the while defeating the minions of the big baddy. Throw in some jargon about “dream weavers” (not the Adobe software) and you’ve got yourself a standard medieval fantasy plot. This isn’t to say it is bad, just a bit trite. I wish they had taken this story further than what currently feels like wrapping paper for the gameplay.
The best part of this game by far is the art style, the hand-drawn looking art is unique and stands out from similar games. The use of varied but muted colors is very well done in the context of this broken world and fits both the brick breaking and the city building aspect. The music that ties the art together sadly is a bit basic, and at times felt like stock music. The music was catchy and didn’t sound bad on its own, but the individual tracks were extremely short and repetitive. This made the music seem shallow and just cheap when the soundtrack definitely wasn’t that bad.
You can definitely tell that this isn’t the brick breaker you played on your blackberry. The game has a lot more depth, better art, and more content to boot. That being said, something feels missing, I couldn’t help but feel that the game needed a bit more time to polish and little things about the game just felt off. It definitely isn’t bad and for $10 it isn’t a rough investment. I would recommend this game but can’t see it becoming your new favorite game.