We first heard about Dreii last summer, and the concept for the game immediately intrigued us. A collaborative puzzle game felt new and fresh, especially considering the fact that this was all about online collaboration and not local coop.
The key element in that distinction is, of course, communication. Working together on a puzzle with someone sitting next to you is vastly different from what happens in Dreii. Here, you’ll find yourself presented with a puzzle (containing 3D objects and simulated physics) – and most of these puzzles can’t be solved by yourself. Instead, another player will join, and together you need to work towards your common goal of completing this challenge. Your main sources of communication, even when it’s a friend you’re playing with, are intent and interpretation. Your movements can get the right idea across to your fellow player (showing your intent), but it’s never going to work unless he or she interprets this correctly. And, of course, vice versa.
To aid you in your puzzle quest, a crude form of communication is available – allowing you to transmit a few key phrases to other players such as ‘slow down’. These are important, but our experience was that these would mostly be used if things were close to derailing, not to set up a solution initially. The best way of communicating also depends on the level you’re trying to tackle, as some as more straightforward than others.
Dreii, in many ways, feel like a social experiment in puzzle solving – and we mean that in the most positive way imaginable. It’s what fascinates us with the title, and it’s its biggest draw. We’ve seen better puzzles in other games, but quite often those would simply be too complex for Dreii’s core mechanic.
One downside is that, being dependent on others, there’s not too much you can do after you complete the puzzles on offer. In other puzzle games you can go crazy on a speedrun, or try outrageous solutions to familiar scenarios, but neither of those options work well here. At best, you can try to educate other players who are trying their hands at the puzzles for the first time.
The game has a single player tutorial so you can get to grips with the different mechanics and forces that you’ll be coping with later, and it creates a common background for player which helps in their cooperation later on. Dreii isn’t the greatest game to look at it, and not the best puzzler around, but in terms of a brand new experimental way of gaming it’s a complete success and well worth checking out. And if you do want local coop, then playing with a Vita and PS4 combination is an excellent option!