Yume Nikki (ゆめにっき?, lit. Dream Diary) is a 2004 surrealistic adventure game by indie Japanese developer Kikiyama. The game was created using RPG Maker 2003, but has few role-playing game (RPG) elements. Players explore the dreams of a hikikomori character named Madotsuki (窓付き?, lit. windowed). Traveling through her dreams, the player encounters surrealistic horror scenes, such as being swallowed by a large red sewer-creature, meeting a disembodied head character known as Uboa (ウボァ?) and a full-screen rotating image of a girl with five arms. The latest version of the game was released in October 2007.

Gameplay Edit

Players control a hikikomori named Madotsuki at home in her apartment, the only area she can explore when awake.[1] Though the apartment has a balcony, attempting to open the door to the outside world results in Madotsuki simply shaking her head. Her only means of entertainment are a television, which shows a simple test card when interacted with, and a Famicom-style game console with the game "Nasu" (ナス?, eggplant). There is a dream diary on a writing desk which the player can use to save data.

After Madotsuki falls to sleep, she begins to dream. The player is then presented with a dream world which resembles the same room Madotsuki lives in. In the dream world, the player is able to leave the room, which will lead to a nexus of 12 doors, with each leading to a different world, including a colorful neon maze, a forest, a world littered with numerical symbols, and a world full of mutilated body parts, among others. These 12 worlds, in turn, connect to a number of other worlds, forming a large and expansive area for the player to explore. The purpose of the game is for the player to navigate the main character's dream worlds to obtain 24 objects, known as effects.[3] The player can attempt to interact with objects, although few will provide any response. The player can choose to wake from the dream world at any time, by causing Madotsuki to pinch her cheek and awaken. This behavior ensures that the player has a way out of the dream world at all times.

Nearly every NPC in the game can be killed with the knife effect. There is no way to encounter a game over in the game, though enemies do exist in the form of NPCs that can teleport the player to inescapable areas, forcing them to wake up or use an effect to return to the nexus. An example of such an NPC include a bird-like humanoid with beaks for mouths, called "Toriningen" (鳥人間?, lit. Bird People), who will chase after Madotsuki.

Release and reception Edit

Originally a little-known game that became popular on the Japanese forum 2channel, the game gained a following outside of Japan after an unofficial English translation was released. After gaining a cult following on 2channel, popularity of the game quickly increased by viral means amongst Japanese gamers. Yume Nikki was ranked 14 of the most downloaded programs in 2010 from Vector, a popular Japanese download site, out of a total of approximately 100,000 downloadable software, as listed in the 2010 Vector Awards.[4] This was a significant increase over the previous year, where it only ranked number 68.[5] The game also has a significant following amongst Chinese gamers on Baidu Tieba,[6] Taiwanese users from the anime-manga-game board Komica, and in the rest of the world via *chan imageboard communities.

The first public release of the game took place on June 26, 2004, as a demonstration preview of an incomplete game.[7] With each following version from 0.01 to 0.09, new features and content were progressively introduced, along with various bug fixes.[8] The latest version, 0.10, featured general bug fixes and became available on October 1, 2007.[7]

Video game journalist Lewis Denby stated it is a "genuinely upsetting game" and that, "there's more to [Madotsuki's] existence than almost any other videogame character you'll ever meet".[2] Independent game designer Derek Yu enjoyed the game, comparing its visual theme to EarthBound and stating "The lack of dialogue or any action fills me with this strange sense of dread."[9] Gamertell's Jenni Lada scored the game 85 out of 100.[10] She praised the unique premise, distinct art style and abstract gameplay which evokes a "dream world experience". Lada noted the geometry of the dream areas, which allows for loops and exitless rooms, and found that it could be "winding and confusing". Whilst she warned that it won't be to everyone's tastes due to "dark or graphic imagery" and found the ending to be disappointing, she concluded that Yume Nikki was worth experiencing. Kotaku's John Jackson praised the game for its ethereal dream-like setting and its non-linear gameplay mechanic, stating, "Out of every game about dreams, this is the one that probably comes closest to actually resembling one."[11] He goes on to argue the game's limitations and vast, undefinable architecture forces the player to question their surroundings and the significance of the smallest actions and events that confront them.

Other media Edit

Various merchandise based on the game has been released, including music soundtracks, light novels, and manga adaptations. On March 26, 2011, the first official merchandise of Yume Nikki, a rubber mobile phone strap featuring a Madotsuki design, was introduced by anime online retailer Surfers' Paradise. Merchandise released later on include capsule seal characters, clear files and T-shirts.[12]

A Vocaloid album, entitled Yumenikki no Tame no Walt (ゆめにっきのためのワルツ?), was released on April 27, 2013,[13] as part of the Project Yumenikki range of officially licensed media.[14] The two-disc official soundtrack, featuring all the original tracks for the game, as well as ten arrangements by doujin group INFINITY∞, was published in Japan by Glaive Music on August 31, 2014. A two-volume version of the soundtrack was also released on iTunes and on June 4, 2014, and September 3, 2014, respectively.[15][16]

An app version of the Nasu minigame was released for iOS and Android devices in November 2013.[17]

Manga adaptation Edit

Yume Nikki has also been adapted into both a manga and a light novel. The light novel is titled Yume Nikki: Anata no Yume ni Watashi wa Inai (ゆめにっき —あなたの夢に私はいない—?, "Dream Diary: Inside of Your Dream, I Am Not There"), and was written by Akira.[18] The manga was illustrated by Hitoshi Tomizawa, and was serialized in Takeshobo's web manga magazine Manga Life Win+ from May 20, 2013, until March 2014.[18][19]