Don’t let its listing as a Doom 2 mod on ModDB put you off. Solace Dreams, by solo developer Ermin, is a fully standalone freeware experience, and a uniquely spooky one to boot. I just hope you’re not afraid of clowns.
Prefer your FPS gameplay a little more orthodox, and with fewer clowns? We’ve got you covered.
Visually inspired by Silent Hill (and lifting a fair few audio cues directly from it), Solace Dreams puts you in the shoes of a schoolgirl, awakening in a classroom somewhere in a deep, black void, searching for her missing classmates. Turns out they’ve all been spirited away to their own personal hells, and it’s your job to dive in, collect weapons and health to protect yourself, and find your cursed classmates to put them to rest.
It’s not exactly deep, but it’s a great excuse for a spooky trip through 12 varied and haunted locales each with their own monsters and a remarkably tough boss fight. What really sets Solace Dreams apart from other Doom-engine games is the voxel graphics. All the characters, enemies, and detail objects in the world look like sprites extruded into the third dimension. It’s unusual to look at, but especially cool in the more complex environments such as the haunted theme park.
It’s not an easy game. If you want to survive more than a few rooms, here are a few tips:
- Take things slow. Make sure you run in a safe direction if you have to retreat.
- Moving forward is faster than strafing or moving backwards, so turning your back on an enemy may sometimes be the best way out of trouble.
- Use the Hint button (check the controls menu) frequently. It highlights every interactive item, including items that you may not have spotted in the shadows.
- Conserve ammo. Most melee enemies have obvious, kiteable attacks, so duck in, stab, and back off.
- Clowns are the worst, but don’t waste shotgun shells on them when a knife will do the job.
- Grab every bit of ammo and health you can. The bosses are HARD, and you'll need everything you can get to beat them.
While a little rough around the edges and perhaps a bit too difficult (watch the developer's official playthrough for tips), Solace Dreams is a great example of what one person with a (spooky) dream and some free time can do with the Doom engine in 2017. Enjoy.