Cyberdreams (PC) review
"It's a very challenging game that is probably the most cerebral Doom wad I've ever played. But, it also bored the crap out of me. While the levels are all designed differently and the Cybers are placed in many very tricky locations, I just couldn't shake the feeling I was doing the same thing over and over again. After only doing a handful of levels, the lack of variety had really sapped my enthusiasm."
Back in the day, one could argue that for PC users, Doom was the hottest thing going. Fans of that legendary first-person shooter dedicated hours upon hours crafting their own levels in attempts to "out-Doom" Doom, allowing guys like me the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful architectural designs of Memento Mori or Requiem and then test our skills to the max against the insane difficulty of Hell Revealed or Alien Vendetta. And occasionally play something completely different.
If nothing else, Cyberdreams can hold its head up high for being unique. While virtually all Doom wads are FPS blast-a-thons, this one could best be described as a puzzle game on crack. Over the 32 levels of this game, you'll never use anything more powerful than a pistol. And the only enemies you'll be seeing are Cyberdemons. For the uninitiated, Cybers are the biggest, baddest mo-fos on the Doom planet. They're huge, they take a ton of ammo to bring down and they launch lethal rockets out of their arms. That pistol might as well be a bouquet of flowers for as much good as it'll do you in combat (according to a guide, it takes roughly 400 bullets to bring just one of those fellows down).
So, without good weapons or the ability to lure the Cybers into the "friendly" fire of other monsters, how can you hope to kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out? Three ways:
1. Telefragging them. That's when you step onto a teleporter that zips you right to where they're standing. Even though they're a lot bigger than you and more durable than a tank, this still immediately causes them to implode.
2. Crushing them. Lure them under a crusher trap. Not even these monsters can long withstand being compressed under tons of descending rock.
3. Reverse-crushing them. Occasionally hitting a switch will cause stairs to rise. If the Cyber is on those stairs and the ceiling is low enough, you'll get the same effect as if you lured them under a crusher.
Now, my preferred technique would have been to just run like a sissy to the exit while praying those fellows couldn't get a bead on me. Unfortunately, the designers made much of this game "OD-proof" by making it very tricky to get away with those shenanigans. Some levels force you to kill the Cybers before you can access the exit room. Others, like the very first level, pull a nasty little trick. It's a piece of cake to get to the exit alcove and hit the switch to activate the exit.....but it takes a L-O-N-G time for that door to appear -- more than enough time for that level's lone Cyber to fire enough rockets to kill you 50 times over.
And so, in a nutshell, that's Cyberdreams. You run around like crazy dodging rockets, while finding switches to activate things that will kill the brutes. It's a very challenging game that is probably the most cerebral Doom wad I've ever played. But, it also bored the crap out of me. While the levels are all designed differently and the Cybers are placed in many very tricky locations, I just couldn't shake the feeling I was doing the same thing over and over again. After only doing a handful of levels, the lack of variety had really sapped my enthusiasm.
Heck, the third level did that on its own. You have this arena separated by a bridge. On each side of the arena, there's a caged Cyber. You have to run from your starting point to the other side of the bridge and hit a switch, then run back to the first side and hit a new switch and keep doing that until four switches were activated. Now, you can run up little ramps that appear next to the monsters to step on these altars that activate crushers in their cages. When the duo die, you can reach the exit. Or to summarize: run, click, run, click, run, click, run, click, run, step, run, step, stroll to exit, yawn, stretch, make a very strong drink, wince while starting next level.
In the Plutonia scenario of Final Doom there's one level that's simply a maze populated by nothing but Arch-Viles. Very enjoyable challenge, but I wouldn't want to play 30-plus straight levels of that sort. And that's how I wound up feeling about Cyberdreams -- it'd be a cool concept to see in one or two levels of a full megawad, but it's also one that can get old quickly when I'm doing nothing but finding wacky methods to kill Cybers.
I have to give the designers of this one credit for creating a game that's vastly different than all of the other Doom wads out there (most of which mainly were designed to give players more challenging versions of that game). But, it would have been nice to have more variety, as I only had enough patience for a certain number of this game's levels before feeling the need to put it down and play a Doom game where I got to kill stuff by, you know, shooting it.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (July 24, 2008)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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