Archives by Day

July 2024

The Smurfs - Dreams

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Microïds
Developer: Ocellus Services
Release Date: Oct. 24, 2024


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Switch/PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'The Smurfs: Dreams'

by Cody Medellin on June 20, 2024 @ 12:40 a.m. PDT

Prepare to embark on an epic 3D platformer adventure that will transport you beyond the Smurfs' wildest imaginations!

The latest games featuring The Smurfs have been a bit strange. While the kart racing and party titles were exactly what was expected, the adventure games were more ambitious. The first game took on an environmental cleanup approach similar to Super Mario Sunshine, while the second game tried its best to mimic Ratchet & Clank. They were ambitious, and the third game, subtitled Dreams, looks to continue that approach. We recently received a preview build of the latest platformer iteration.

While the preview build didn't feature a story, the game's Steam page does. Longtime nemesis of the Smurfs, Gargamel, has hatched his latest scheme to capture the small blue creatures. He has cast a curse on the sarsaparilla bushes, one of the Smurfs' favorite sources of food. Anyone caught eating the leaves is placed in a deep slumber, giving Gargamel ample time to reach the village and take the creatures so he can use them as ingredients for making gold. However, not every Smurf has eaten the leaves, and it is up to these unaffected Smurfs to free their brethren from the curse by entering their dreams to wake them up.

The platformer that inspired this entry is Sackboy: A Big Adventure or Super Mario 3D World. The game is shown from a 3D perspective, with the camera pulled back to give you a better view of the environments. The game worlds feature a good number of secret rooms and paths, but there's no timer to rush you along. You can sprint and jump like any other platformer, with your unique power being the ability to place yourself in a bubble for a brief period of time and dart forward from said bubble to cover some extra distance before returning to solid ground.

Where the game combat — or lack thereof — differs greatly from its inspiration. While you can stomp on some enemies, there isn't enough fighting to consider it as a significant part of the gameplay. The emphasis is on collection and slightly tricky platforming. For the former, you're spending a great deal of time collecting berries while occasionally finding a spool of thread and five Smurf head outlines per world. This often encourages you to interact with every Smurf you can find and experiment with different platforming paths to flesh out the otherwise linear worlds. The only thing that's unclear at the moment is the benefits for collecting most of this stuff, as that wasn't spelled out anywhere in the preview build.

For the platforming, the preview build levels eased you into some of the tricks to expect from the full game. Smurfette's level is supposed to represent one of the early levels of the full game, and while the platforming starts out basic, it introduced things like switches to uncover hidden paths, angular jumping pad pillows that propel you in different directions, and ones that disappear briefly after you touch them. It's been seen before, but it still remains neat. The second stage takes place in Vanity Smurf's dream world, and this is much more interesting since it plays around with the idea of reflections and dealing with stuff that's only visible in the mirrors, either in the background or on the floors. It's an awesome concept that's rarely been used in platformers like this, and while it won't take long for genre vets to get acclimated, it can still be a fun challenge for younger players and a good sign of how inventive the level designers are.

Those elements can present a challenge for the intended audience, but the game does its best to accommodate younger players while ensuring that they still have to put in some work if they want to beat the game. You can only get hit twice before you're sent back to the last checkpoint, but the stages have enough checkpoints that returning to your point of death isn't too laborious. Any progress made when you die doesn't get reset either, so the penalty for death is far less than expected. Again, this is made for kids, but it also means that experimenting to get some out-of-reach collectibles is highly encouraged; it remains to be seen if this is woven into the level design.

The final new feature of the preview build is local co-op play. For the first time in the series, you can play alongside one other player throughout the whole adventure. It's a neat feature and always welcome, since local play on the PC isn't always a given, but the build didn't demonstrate any advantages beyond having an extra Smurf present. For example, there are no puzzles or sections that rely on a second player, and the amount of collectibles don't change, either.

Thus far, The Smurfs: Dreams looks quite interesting. The mostly non-violent approach is rather novel, and the focus on collecting stuff is quaint. While the first level works fine, the second level presents a glimpse into how inventive the level design can be. There's still plenty of time to wait for the final game's Oct. 24, 2024, release, but the preview build for this licensed title left us pleasantly surprised.

More articles about The Smurfs - Dreams
blog comments powered by Disqus