Dreams. At the end of each, we come to realize that, like many prior, that’s all there is to it. No more and no less. We dream and then we wake up. Maybe we remember it clearly, maybe we don’t. But what if… Emmett and Nova in DRMWRLDGRL?
Confused? Oh, don’t worry. It’ll all make sense by the time you’ve read this review. Or maybe it won’t. Dreams certainly have a tendency not to, so why should my review of DRMWRLDGRL? It is after all a visual novel that takes place almost exclusively in that very realm, and you better believe that makes for quite the rollercoaster of a story.
Emmett, the protagonist, is just a regular girl, living a regular life. Nothing wrong with that. But then there’s Nova. To say she’s irregular would be quite an understatement, given that she is, to quote the developer, “a dream imp made from ash and bone”. Yup. Rollercoaster. And we’re still just getting started.
If I was Emmett, I’d likely try to get as far away from Nova as possible after hearing what her deal is. Although, I suppose there wouldn’t be much to DRMWRLDGRL if she’d chosen to flee, so good on her for seeing the potential for adventure instead. I mean, surely Nova’s aura of mystery or her pretty face has nothing to do with it at all.
Whatever the case, over time, their meeting introduces Emmett to unimaginable discoveries, and likely also more questions than answers, as they traverse nearly a dozen different dreams. The entire game, start to finish, is presented in an old-school low-resolution aesthetic style, too. One that only furthers the impression of a dreamscape, and is pretty much a perfect fit.
Now, unlike the majority of visual novels, DRMWRLDGRL doesn’t simply consist of clicking to progress the narration or dialogue. While there aren’t any branches to the story, every so often, icons like a question mark or an eye will appear on the screen, at which point the player can choose to examine various scenic elements. Alternatively, clicking the arrow will exit the current locale.
Some of these optional interactions are surprisingly fun and fleshed out for something players could simply choose to ignore in favour of progressing the plot. But given how short the game is, it seems almost silly to not examine everything and get the most out of Emmett and Nova’s journey. Even the smallest of interactions just might add something.
Speaking of which: at this point, you’re completely invested, wondering what’s going to happen in DRMWRLDGRL, right? Ah, but of course you are! If that is not the case, for whatever reason, well, I’d still absolutely recommend giving it a go. Perhaps experience a dream within a dream, as it were…
DRMWRLDGRL is available on itch.io.