Do Animals Dream? is a cute looking narrative game where you play as the lone survivor from a whaling ship that shipwrecked on an island full of talking animals. As you explore the island, you slowly unravel the truth and things are definitely not as they seem.
I’ll cut to the chase with this game. It’s basically vegan propaganda and poorly done at that. As you explore the island and complete tasks for the inhabitants, you come to the realization that the villagers are luring humans onto the island and eating them. This is supposed to come as a shock.
Now I do respect the attempt to bring attention to the plight and mistreatment of animals in certain factory farms. If you guys have ever seen videos of what actually happens on some farms, I find it incredibly saddening and downright disgusting to treat another living creature in that manner. These practices should definitely be put to an end.
However there is a huge difference between provoking thought and forcing a way of thinking. The prior has depth, nuance, and most importantly, gives the audience a chance to come up with their own opinions. The later lacks all of those things and delivers a hamfisted view of the world in a rather condescending manner. Do Animals Dream? unfortunately falls into the later category.
From the dialogue to the actions you are taking, you are constantly deluged with the mantra that all humans are evil because of the way they mistreat animals. Even if you don’t take part it in directly, you are part of the problem according to this game for being complacent and not actively choosing to forgo eating all animal products. This argument has many logical fallacies but that discussion will be for another time for the sake of keeping this article brief.
The narrative suffers as a whole because everything feels contrived. Instead of naturally forming a relationship with the animal inhabitants, almost every dialogue a thinly disguised diatribe on the evils of humanity and farming. The game would have worked better if it had created captivating characters and naturally developed a feeling of empathy for the animals as individuals. They do come close to doing this but they unfortunately sacrifice narrative consistency for the sake of forcing a message.
Don’t get me wrong, no living creature should be treated as some of these animals are on certain farms. Attacking everyone who eats animal products is not the way to go about bringing change. Even if a person was on the fence about choosing to give up animal products, a hamfisted, condescending approach will actually drive them away.
Overall, while I am glad that Do Animals Dream? attempted to tackle a subject matter not frequently discussed in video games today, the way that it chose to approach the problem was very lacking and not convincing. It was a valiant attempt but fell very short.