Monopoly + Uno + Sorry! + Basement scene from Pulp Fiction = The Worst game I’ve ever played.
Dream Heist is a Kickstarter project inspired by the movie Inception. It is an intolerably awful game.
Each player is a team of dream agents, all determined to hop into the subconscious and influence reality. All have different missions. These missions are one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrendous experience. You might need to win the National Spelling Bee or steal the Declaration of Independence, though the colorful description is the only difference between goals. In the end, you’re just pooping out little influence nuggets along the board.
You do this by travelling the nine circles of Hell – I mean, the four levels of the dream. On each level, you roll dice, move, and then do whatever interaction is available. Generally this means drawing cards or playing them.
The cards match the four types of agents on your team: Blah, blah, blah, and blah. You can turn in their cards to drop dream inspiration on the board. But you have to be in that agent type’s designated section. Which you can’t control, because all you do is roll dice and pray.
When you’re not at the mercy of the dice moving you, you’re at the mercy of the dice even allowing you to do anything. To cross into another level of a dream, necessary to win, you’ve got to roll specific numbers on two dice. If you don’t, your turn’s over. If you’re sent to limbo (by someone else landing on your space), you have to roll a 4, 8, or 12 to escape. Or your turn’s over. But don’t worry, on your fifth turn in limbo, you’re automatically released. Five lost turns? That... is...
Dream Heist is nothing but an endless series of dice rolls…and waiting. Each of us spent the majority of the game unable to do anything at all. It was a miserable experience. And one no one else should have to endure.
I’m certain that the folks at Pilot-Study wanted to make a great game based off Christopher Nolan’s Inception. But they failed their players by not fighting hard enough through the concept phase to come up with an acceptable design. You only have to play Dream Heist a few minutes to realize how bad and how broken it is on fundamental levels.
Times Played: One-third. After thirty minutes of futility, my friend literally flipped the board. He is my hero.
Likelihood of Entering a Dream State While Playing this Game: Very high
Most Often Played With: People who now hate me.
I liked Inception. I wanted a fun game about dreams.
PLAYING DREAM HEIST
The first rule of Dream Heist is don’t play Dream Heist.
IT’S SORT OF LIKE…
A nightmare you can’t shake.
MOST FUN WHEN…
I pinched myself so I woke up.
WANTED TO FLIP THE TABLE WHEN…
Anything happened. Or didn’t happen. Mostly things didn’t happen.
The board is beautiful, though unnecessarily long making the box awkward to store on a shelf or in a trashcan. The cards are decent. But the player tokens, born of the totems the dream agents use in Inception, are lame and seemingly bought in bulk at a 99 cent store.
You can study the rules during your lost turn.
CAN YOU PLAY THIS GAME DRUNK?
In Soviet Russia, Dream Heist plays you.
THREE BEST THINGS
Mission cards are well-written.
THREE WORST THINGS
- You have almost no agency the entire game.
- Everything else.
MOST IMPORTANT GAME DESIGN LESSON LEARNED
Playtest your games. There is no possible way a group of strangers got together to try this game and didn’t immediately report massive issues. A game about dream thieves could be awesome. There’s so much potential in the theme. But this game is as bad as it gets.
GET THIS IF
- You hate yourself.
- You hate your friends.
- You get the Limited Edition version that comes with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Questions about Dream Heist? Don’t ask it in the comments. I don’t want to talk about this game any more.