'The Dreaming is a visual novella in which you take the part of Gabrielle, a young psychiatrist during her first weeks at a mental institution. One of her early jobs is to complete the diagnosis of Julius, a young man hospitalized at the clinic with an unusual case of schizophrenia: not only has he vivid hallucinations - the whole world seems like one big hallucination to him. Digging deeper into his mental condition, Gabrielle soon finds out that there is more to Julius than meets the eye... and a few of these things are terrible indeed...'
The Dreaming is focused on making choices that gather information and clues into Julius' past. The great thing about the novel is it's storytelling; it's very clear that a lot of thought has gone into the concept and you can see how all the threads of the story fit together through multiple playthroughs. The mystery was very compelling and it's very easy to become hooked on unraveling the truth.
The atmosphere is very believable, and at times you can feel genuine fear and surprise at some of the twists and turns. Some people complain that the artwork can be quite jarring at times, and while I can see why some would deem this true, it wasn't a distraction for me at all. In a way, due to the nature of fantasy, illusion and hallucination it's cartoony graphics contrasting with it's gritty backgrounds made it feel a little more sinister in my eyes.
There are 6 endings in total, most are easy to obtain, however achieving the 6th ending is no easy feat at all. While I seemed to struggle less than most, I think I may have got lucky with a couple of choices that I made that lead me to the full true ending, which I found to be very satisfying and definitely worth trying. Don't get me wrong; I think once you've played through the whole game, the choices that need to be made make a lot of sense, although there were still a couple that I felt were more random than an actual choice. Although I've never actually played a visual novel that really challenged me, so it was different indeed. Perhaps visual novels don't do that as it becomes a 'blocker' to the continuation of the story; luckily the story was so good and held my motivation.
Another negative would be that the game lacks polish, and while this doesn't matter hugely as the story is what's important, I really think it would reach more people if it had a finished feel to it; it's something I think the writer probably intended but it hasn't been achieved yet. Polish includes things like default UI, photograph backgrounds, some spelling mistakes and so on, nothing particularly important but I like well-rounded games.
Overall, the writing is great, and it's worth playing through and getting the true ending!
It would have received a 10 if it improved the difficulty curve and had a more finished feel.