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The Realm of Dreams is an action-adventure video game developed by TimeStrike for The V² console, serving as a reboot of the 2014 video game series of the same name. Unlike the old games, it features solely Ethan Slaaz instead of a group of siblings, and has a much larger emphasis on combat, both close and far ranged. However, the plot remains similar, with the goal of Ethan being to stop the Echeno from destroying the recently-born universe, and to prevent the nightmare from completely annihilating the deity team, whom of which grant him his God-like physical strength necessary to defeat the beast.
Unlike various other Zaxinian Lifts installments, The Realm of Dreams takes place before the events of the Lifts, and instead takes place in its "baby form", Zaxina, before heroes like Bowie game to be.
Ethan, the sole playable character, travels across the landscape of Zaxina, going across the once-together land in search of the Echeno. Zaxina is divided into eight worlds with four levels each, and a boss level that succeeds the fourth level of every world. Gameplay is always in the third dimension, and Ethan can be moved in all directions, the player having to move him so that he gets from start to finish. Every level has three Glittering Crystals of every level - these objects fuel Ethan with strength, and with enough of them, he can challenge the Echeno, so collecting them is important, although not necessary to "finish" a level. To challenge bosses, the player cannot just simply clear the levels, they need to have a total of six crystals for the first boss, twelve for the second, eighteen for the third, and so on forth. Defeating bosses takes the player on to the next level. The Echeno requires ALL crystals in order to be fought.
As he moves throughout the land, Ethan will encounter several enemies, which he must defeat with either brutally strong physical attacks or a bow and arrow to shoot enemies that dare not get close to Ethan's weapons. These two attack methods can be used strategically, the bow is often used to exploit weak points while Ethan's physical strength crushes them apart. Both physical attacks and the long range attacks are used not just on enemies, but also on objects such as weakened walls, targets, and switches, which often allow Ethan to access new areas. Ethan's powers are not limited to physical strength, he also has the ability to glide across gaps and attack in the air. As the player walks through the levels, they can also sometimes come across Asher, one of Ethan's siblings, who will walk with him for a bit and explain how to do certain things, such as moving the camera or seeking out the weak point to a boss.
Ethan's physical attacks are very varied in what they can actually do. Ethan can swing his arms in separate directions, grow the size of his limbs temporarily, smash the opponents with his knees, or even pick them up and crash them into the ground. Enemies picked up can also be used as body shields, or can be tossed away, which can be helpful when Ethan lacks arrows or if he needs to knock an enemy off a cliff and doesn't want to risk his health. The best asset of these moves though, is how Ethan can combo them together - he can get heavily engaged with an enemy and swing both extremely strong arms at them, and they won't fly away until Ethan either uses a combo ending move or a Finisher Move (which is an exceptionally powerful move that charges over time and maxes out when he's taken enough damage) that sends them flying away or deals an utmost amount of damage against bosses (unless they are at low health). Players however have to be careful with Ethan's position in fights, as it's rather easy to whittle through Ethan's health.
Bow and arrow is Ethan's only real skill that isn't physical combat, and while it's not as effective as up close moves, it's definitely a safer option and can expose weaknesses of opponents without real worry. Bow and arrow is rather simple; Ethan pulls back an arrow and lunges it straight forward, the player able to aim it wherever and fire whenever they please. As time goes on, Ethan becomes capable of using alterations of the bow and arrow, such as a fiery type that blazes through ice enemies, an armor piercing end that allows the arrow to actually damage heavily guarded enemies, or a thinner build that enables Ethan to fire it even further away from himself. A special upgrade created by the man's sibling, Asher, allows him to scout enemies' weaknesses much better when in aiming mode. Bow and arrow doesn't work on enemies close up, so Ethan needs to back away if he wants to use the bow to fight, or needs to resort to physical moves.
The health meter of Ethan is displayed by a stamina meter, which has a minimum at 50% in the game and maxes out with upgrades at 300%. As Ethan takes damage, the stamina becomes of a lower number, and if it reaches 0%, Ethan passes out from exhaustion. As a result, it's a near requirement that the player makes sure to improve Ethan's health when possible, although by finding upgrades kept in treasure chests, the max health of Ethan can extend from 50% and onward. Using the upgrades significantly improves his otherwise low survivability. To restore health, Ethan must replenish himself by eating burgers. Burgers come in a variety of flavors and sizes, and also effects - a fiery burger can spice up Ethan's attack temporarily, a love burger can heal him completely, and a rage burger allows him to use a Finisher move.
Scattered throughout the levels, there are nuts, bolts, screws, wood, patches, metal, clay, whatever that the player can collect. These materials have purposes and are placed in a sack that's held on Ethan's back, and will come out with him upon clearing levels. They can be taken to another one of Ethan's brothers, Aidan, who will merge together the objects on request of what Ethan wants it to be. Aidan can form armor, enhancements for Ethan's bow and arrow, or accessories such as glasses and new clothing via objects such as clay and silk. Ethan can equip provided armor to boost defense, gain new utility from enhancements to the bow and arrow, and Ethan is recognized as more rich and less poor looking when equipping anything that isn't his standard white rags. As the game's storyline progresses, Aidan becomes better at his duty and forms stronger material for Ethan, and more material types can be found in the later levels, which increase the variety of what can be made.
Returning from The Realm of Dreams, scrolls either enhance Ethan's skills like before to make him stronger or to give him a brand-new upper hand in the tide of battle, or call upon Mother Nature to help Ethan progress via vocal prayer (in other words, they work like Fire Emblem Fates' Dragon Vein move). Unlike the previous game, scrolls are placed in select locations and don't travel with the player, they are instead just read and acknowledged. Once a scroll is read, its writing disappears from the paper and becomes one with Ethan, which makes the scroll disappear. When returning to levels that were already completed, the old scrolls aren't there anymore and any changes regarding the landscape that Ethan did remain intact, although this does not apply to Quest Mode, which removes enhancement scrolls but keeps the environment scrolls, therefore keeping levels like how they were before completion in story mode.
Also returning, Orbs are items that provide Ethan with different effects, and are often hoisted mid-air by magic. When Ethan touches an orb, he gains its effect and absorbs it into his body. There are several varieties of orbs, most of them are helpful and grant Ethan effects such as increased defense or extra health, but some are malicious or disguised and grant Ethan awful effects such as poison or burns, which can severely harm him and prevent him from doing much in the way of enemies. To distinguish the different orbs, they come in different colors and are fairly transparent, showing a gemstone hidden away in the center of the object. A few orbs disguise as other orbs, and can be ratted out by unusual glowing colors, which helps the player realize that they do not mean what they appear to be. Orbs do not regenerate unless the player loses a life, but the extra-life orbs that the player has already gathered have disappeared, to prevent cheating.
Hosted by Samantha (Ethan's best friend) and Arionna (Ethan's second best friend), these two manage buying and selling respectively. Samantha often keeps things at high prices, but as with Rusty's Real Deal Baseball, they can haggle with her and eventually bring the prices down lower. This is sometimes necessary early in the game as Samantha has prices too high to actually afford unless the player replays the levels over and over and over again until they finally have enough. However, sometimes Samantha puts things on sale, which makes them much easier to afford, especially if haggling is put into effect. To purchase items, the player must collect ANCIENT CASH MONEY scattered over the levels' environment, and they can win it from enemies. The CASH MONEY is divided into five different tokens; Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum (value of $5, $10, $25, $50, and $100 respectively).
Son of the God Zyvoline, and one of several children that the God had (yet third oldest falling to Elias and Samantha), Ethan is a tough-hearted warrior with immense strength, benefiting the most off of Fandraxono's powers, yet he is not immortal and has actually retained mortality from an unknown mother. He's rather hard-headed and can come off stubborn, but is mostly chill and offers only kindness and truth to the world around him, or at least most people unaffiliated with the Echeno. Had it not been for Ethan, Zaxina wouldn't be the Zaxinian Lifts.
Ethan's sibling, Asher is a tutorial guide and a general advice giver akin to others like Omochao. He works as a part-time mechanic and spends all day on his computer, surfing the web for Minecraft mods and stuff. He can be kind of sassy and is a master of terrible puns and jokes, but he can be pretty soft and caring when necessary. He teases Ethan a lot, often commenting on his "leg fat" and his inability to do anything that he himself can.
Another sibling of Ethan, Aidan helps Ethan turn his collected objects into much more valuable possessions, such as armor and upgrades to the bow and arrow. Aidan tends to act rather confused, and doesn't really talk much when it comes to "being on the subject". Instead, you'll likely hear him talking about movies, games, and also saying when people died and how long someone lived when someone else came to be. His favorite shows at the Simpsons and Ed, Edd n' Eddy, so if you find hidden DVDs of those and hand them to him, you'll be rewarded handsomely.
The real God of Zaxina before he was split into Fandraxono, the Acebreaker and Black Eyes (ability, matter, mind), Zyvoline is an extremely powerful God that was yet rivaled by the Echeno, who stripped the other deities of pride and prevented him from bringing them back to the way they were, and also broke through his usually unbreakable defenses. While he is full of ego today and is quite rude, he wasn't back in the Realm of Dreams, and was a calm and collected God that properly managed the Lifts. As Ethan gets stronger, Zyvoline gives him more abilities to trust the teen with.
An obscenely powerful "bookshelf-like" demon that antagonizes the entire Zaxina world, and is without a doubt one of the scariest things alive. Having been created by Zyvoline as a side-effect to having made his universe, the Echeno is dangerous and has several ways of disposing of foes and giving others sharp wounds. Feeding on the unwary and the frightened, it takes a lot of courage to fight or even just engage the embodiment of evil itself. It is said that it can be defeated if one is brave enough and strong enough to even just lay a dent in this otherwise invincible mass of horror.
A typical dark clone created by the Echeno to outmatch and defeat Ethan, Nahte is one of several experiments meant to counter Ethan in the ways that the Echeno couldn't. Serving as distraction material, this Nahte person seeks out Ethan throughout the Realm of Dreams and attacks on eye contact, having no emotion, no whim, it's just a figment of the Echeno's "imagination" and "understandings". Throughout the story of the Realm of Dreams, Nahte is encountered many times, and appears in every stage after the first encounter as a major obstacle.
The soundtrack for The Realm of Dreams was completely composed by Shoji Meguro, the composer for the majority of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3's soundtrack, split into three different discs. The majority of The Realm of Dream's soundtrack features vocals, given to the game to add atmosphere. In addition to being a homage to Persona 3's soundtrack, the game contains mixes of popular songs from that game, including "Mass Destruction", "Burn My Dread", and "The Battle For Everyone's Souls". The original songs and music have heavy themes on ancient times, the personality of Ethan, and the fright and hatred being drawn from the Echeno.
- In the original game, users of Fantendo signed up to be NPCs, but most of them do not return. However, the ones that do return are Jake, Quinn and Ziegs, since these three had significant roles in the old game and it would be a waste to not return them.