Horror gaming in 2004 was a different landscape than it is today. Resident Evil 4 had yet to come along and redefine the genre, and Silent Hill games were still good. Most horror games played like early Resident Evil titles, featuring low-poly player characters struggling for their survival amongst compressed, pre-rendered backgrounds.
Yume Nikki + Kikiyama
A two-dimensional horror game was completely antithetical to what early-aughts horror game developers were developing. So, a two-dimensional horror game in 2004 would have been a pretty weird concept, right? Right indeed. Yume Nikki is a horror game from 2004 as weird as it is two-dimensional.
Yume Nikki was created by Kikiyama, a secretive developer about which little is known. The game was created using RPG-Maker and features simple gameplay mechanics. Players navigate pixelated nightmare-scapes and solve obtuse environmental puzzles. Unlike most of its RPG-Maker counterparts, Yume Nikki pits these gameplay mechanics against a set of bizarre, colourful worlds. Yume Nikki is notorious for leaving players dazed because of its sparse story, abstract world, and all around one-of-a-kind experience. Now available for free on Steam, Yume Nikki is a game you should play if you have yet to do so.
Playism, the publisher of Yume Nikki, recently announced a sequel too… sort of. Less a sequel and more of a reboot, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is a reimagining of the original title. Featuring direct cooperation and supervision from Kikiyama, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is being developed by Active Gaming Media, a company known for its localizations of titles No More Heroes and Soul Caliber IV.
Yume Nikki: Dream Diary will feature the off-putting, psychedelic world of Yume Nikki in three dimensions. Much like the original Yume Nikki, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary focuses on the young girl protagonist, Madotsuki, exploring a variety of dream worlds while trying to avoid horrifying humanoid monsters. Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is coming to Steam on February 23 and will cost $20.
Check out one of the trailers here: