Dreamkiller Impressions: “Emotional Painkiller” Doesn’t Sound As Cool

Dreamkiller is a first-person shooter starring a "punk rock chick psychologist" who projects herself into her patients' dreams to cure their psychotic behaviour by killing their nightmares.

Sound familiar? If it does and you're not thinking of the anime, Paprika, it's likely because Dreamkiller sounds a lot like Painkiller. Painkiller you might remember is that 2004 PC first-person shooter about a guy murdering his way through Purgatory developed by People Can Fly. You might also remember its 2007 sequel, Painkiller: Overdose, which was way less popular and developed by Painkiller fans at Mindware Studios. Dreamkiller is the successor of that second Painkiller – the fan-made one – and whether you hated that game or not, you have to admit Dreamkiller sounds a whole lot cooler than Painkiller: The Emotional Kind.

Like Overdose, Dreamkiller relies on its absurd premise as a means to give the player a lot of weapons with which to murder pretty much everything the player encounters in various levels. The levels in Dreamkiller are actually the nightmares of patients which psychologist Dr. Alice Drake enters using some weird superpower to "cure" them by killing everything she finds in their dreams.

For our first look at the game, Dr. Alice entered the mind of a young woman who suffers from agateophobia – the fear of being insane. Aptly, the nightmare takes place in an insane asylum that sometimes morphs into an orphanage or a World War I-era hospital, suggesting some seriously effed up patient history. Dr. Alice is dropped into a nice-looking waiting room in the hospital with a graveyard right outside the windows and a grenade launcher by the door leading deeper into the asylum – apparently "left" there by the patient for Dr. Alice. In addition to arsenals provided by patients, the good doctor can also use telekinesis and fire balls thanks to a dragon tattoo on her right hand.

Almost as soon as she left the room, the good doctor was assaulted by insane asylum patients wearing giant head vices that look suspiciously like tiki masks. You can guess the rest: Dr. Alice starts shooting, the enemies keep mobbing and eventually a bigger boss shows up to do a lot of damage before the doctor is able to dispatch it with the grenade launcher. It's early days yet for Dreamkiller, so a lot of dialogue and cut scenes weren't in place. However, it sounds like as the player progresses through a patient's dream, Dr. Alice discovers the source of their deep-seated phobias as well as a pattern to their nightmares that suggests a far more sinister and supernatural problem that prescription drugs just won't fix.

Aside from the plot and the fact that the main character is a chick, Dreamkiller also introduces some new elements to its shooter style that weren't in Overdose. In addition to the dragon tattoo powers, for example, Dr. Alice can "project" herself out of a melee situation by sending her shadow running ahead of her and then magically teleporting to where her shadow winds up. You can't go through doors, sadly, but melee combat and running down hallways should sure be interesting. To power the "projection" trick and the dragon tattoo stuff, Dr. Alice has to collect magic pickups in addition to ammo, health and experience points (which level up weapons, not Dr. Alice). She also has a kill meter which presumably does something cool – but it was hard to tell what with such an early build of the game.

Dreamkiller is coming out for PC and Xbox 360 this October. Death match multiplayer is planned, but there's no word on how many or if there will be split-screen multiplayer or not. So far, Mindware isn't thinking of doing a demo, but that's not a definitely "no demo ever" just yet. Even if the answer turns out to be no and we all have to wait four months to find out if the game is any good, we can still dream.


    Great idea, already looks poorly executed based on those screenshots. Dogs in armour? Nobody dreams about that.

    I'm hoping they don't do something as stupid as to have the same enemies in different dreams, but I can see that coming.

    Sounds like a FPs version of Alundra but not as good.

    I loved Alundra, anyone remember that?!

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