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Dreams are supposed to be everyone’s safe space. A place where your imagination can run wild, and your mind makes sense of the day’s activities. You should go to sleep knowing that you’ll wake safely. Imagine if this couldn’t be guaranteed, and you gambled with your life every night. Oniria Crimes uses this fearful idea in its futuristic world laced with grit and crime.

Developed by cKolmos Game Studios and published by Badland Publishing. This detective point and click game is loaded with lore and uses visual novel elements to sell its story. A neon washed metropolis is presented using voxel graphics. This boxy style alongside an in-depth story transports you to this seedy setting. What should be a peaceful paradise is ruined by some rogue criminals.

Oniria Crimes should be great, but bugs let it down. 

Set in the year 2060, humans and other species have decided that dreams should be entertainment. They create a place known as Oniria, the Land of Dreams. Here every being co-exists in their dream state. The idea was sold to the people as a peaceful escape, and a way to enjoy the surreal world of their minds. Sadly, humans are their own worst enemy, and they quickly ruin it by breaking the rules and committing heinous crimes.

The Rounders crime unit was created. They enter Oniria and solve the many mysteries that arise. You follow two cops from this department; Detective Santos and Inspector Torres. Between them they must; investigate six crime scenes, piece together the information, and compile a file of evidence. This is then used to accuse one of the three suspects.

In theory, this is a sound concept. However, in reality, it’s a buggy mess that undoes all its hard work by crashing, freezing, and corrupting save data. No matter how much you try to avoid the bugs, they jump out of nowhere and ruin everything. It’s an infuriating error from the developers and is especially annoying, as I can see the potential that Oniria Crimes presents.

So, what do we know?

Its detail and depth is its pièce de résistance, and its downfall.

Ironically, the best part of this is also one of its major downfalls. In a dreamlike world, the laws of normality and physics matter not. Every object you encounter is alive and can be interacted with. These items blather on constantly and reveal the much-needed clues to solve each crime. The issue I had with these non-stop talking objects was deciphering relevant information from the unnecessary chatter. Picking out the clues amongst the quagmire of drivel was a challenging task. Fortunately, a handy notebook recorded the relevant facts for you to peruse at your leisure. Yet even this proved problematic.

Random information that appeared to have little bearing on the investigation would appear against a suspect. It was a constant battle to identify what was relevant, and what wasn’t. Yet, once you have scoured the scene, and gathered all the clues, you had to decide who was guilty. You read through your information, come to your conclusions, and make your accusations. Right or wrong, progress never stopped, and you simply moved onto your next task. This sped up the gameplay but gave everything a hollow feel.

It was a shame that a game that was full of character, and lore felt so unrewarding at key moments. I was desperate for it to make me work the scene again, to come up with the right answers. But it insisted you move to the next crime.

Such a needy Rubik’s cube.

Oniria Crimes isn’t just about murder.

Yes, Oniria Crimes is a detective story, but you are given some welcome respite from this thankless task with a selection of puzzles. Each case has a unique challenge for you to solve. Trying them is a welcome distraction and takes your mind off the constant bugs and information dumps that you must sift through.

Every investigation score is based on correct accusations, gathering information, and your ability to solve puzzles. Your ranking has no bearing on the game as previously mentioned. Aiming for perfection is about personal pride and again the developers let themselves down. What’s the point in being perfect if it’s met with the same response as a failure. It undermined what was otherwise a fantastically deep concept.

A dark and seedy world.

Even though I battled with the never-ending issues, and had to reset the game repeatedly, I couldn’t help but admire the world that was created. A hazy neon hue helped to create a dark and seedy atmosphere. The voxel graphics provided enough detail to allow you to easily examine each location, and the text is easy to read. A well-designed UI makes navigating the clues and the surrounding world an easy task. I adored the visual style and wish the rest of the gameplay had performed at this level.

The 80s style synth music enhanced the sinister atmosphere. This classic cop film audio added tension to what was otherwise a very slow affair. A lack of futuristic sound effects was another oversight from the developers. In a surreal world they could have added anything they wanted, but yet they relied on their musical score to carry the load. The soundtrack was good, but it fell short of what I hoped for.

Leave no stone unturned.

An unsuccessful port from PC.

Point and click games always perform better on PC, mainly because of the use of a mouse and keyboard. Sadly, Oniria Crimes has had a terrible port from PC to console. Alongside its glitches and bugs, it’s a slow and cumbersome beast to control. The cursor slowly floats across the screen, frustrating you in the process. And there is no sense of finesse because of the lack of accuracy. It’s just about serviceable, but anything that requires a delicate touch will annoy you and is difficult to overcome.

With plenty of stories to devour, many amusing objects to interact with, and perfect scores to aim for, this has replay value. However, it’s difficult to overcome the many problems you face, and it will put off even the most hardcore of gamers. No one has the accolade of the 100% status on Xbox, and I envisage that being the case for a long time.

Oniria Crimes lets itself down.

When a game has this much promise, a fantastic world, and a great soundtrack, you’d think everyone would rave about it. Unfortunately, the game-breaking bugs ruin it. If there were no issues, this would be an easy 7 out of 10. However, in its current state, it’s bang average. I can’t recommend it, but you can buy a copy here if you are intrigued! Six crime scenes, plenty of witnesses, and two detectives. Finding the criminal should be a piece of cake, right? 

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