Dream Channel Zero tells the tale of a boy named Akira, who one day gets suddenly and inexplicably sucked into the world of a mysterious video game. There, he meets Rumiko—a seemingly normal girl in a teal blue hoodie—and the two team up to conquer whatever perils this strange virtual world might throw at them, and hopefully find a way out. Thus begins an all-new and truly original adventure full of laughter, tears, and fears by Zelle creator Fuming and award-winning Bear’s Restaurant and Meg’s Monster developer Odencat.
The game’s stages are laid out in a lovingly retro manner that’ll have you traveling around an animated world map as you explore striking locales in order to hunt down the “boss” characters of each stage in order to clear their respective channels. Along the way, you’ll trigger enemy encounters, visit shops, and discover optional events littered across the map. Players will also have some amount of freedom to clear levels in whatever order they like—just turn the dial, and you can instantly change the channel and hop over to a different stage.
The game’s world is filled to the brim with fearsome, ghostly inhabitants—and every single one of them is determined to stand in the player’s way. But in many cases, a single well-timed punch to the face will be enough to send them to their graves (Or get them to behave at least)! Each battle has its own unique trick to beating it, and there are no repeat encounters, ensuring players will always be kept on their toes. And of course, a gripping, dramatic boss battle awaits at the end of every stage.
The world of Dream Channel Zero features a uniquely surreal aesthetic, and though it may seem crazy and cryptic at times, the game itself has been designed so that it can be fully enjoyed by players of all skill levels and comedic sensibilities. While there are many zany and unhinged characters among its cast, and hilariously absurd optional events to uncover, the central plot is one that’s both heartfelt and elegantly simple, and is sure to deeply resonate with players no matter where they come from.
In Dream Channel Zero, even minor characters feel major. The game features a wide variety of eccentric and memorable NPCs, as well as optional scenes in which they all get their time in the limelight. Throughout your journey, you’ll meet:
To compose the game’s stylishly eclectic soundtrack, director Fuming personally scouted and enlisted the help of Minneapolis-based electronic producer and DJ Xavier LeBlanc. Featuring hypnotic melodies, ample variations on individual chord progressions, and complex rhythms, his distinctive sound draws from a wide variety of different genres, including hip-hop, Latin jazz, IDM, drum and bass, and R&B. While the common temptation with 2D pixel-based games is to emulate the blips and bleeps of the 16-bit era, LeBlanc opted to reject this way of thinking early on, and instead pursue a new and challenging sound for Dream Channel Zero. His appointment as the game’s composer and experience in genres far removed from video game music also proved pivotal in helping to shape the game’s unique sound design. Take the game’s titular television and channel-surfing motifs, for instance—just as players are able to switch between different worlds as simply as flipping to a different TV channel, LeBlanc’s ability to effortlessly switch between several variations on a single theme helped make these transitions feel every bit as natural, instant, and satisfying as they should.