Created 2022.05.31
Updated 2024.04.16

Dreamlike Games

Video games have an inherenet surrealism, but some developers embrace this and provide particularly unusual experiences.

The games listed here don't follow strict criteria. Some are explicitly about dreams, while others have a dreamlike atmosphere. Some follow obscure logic or don't have obvious goals (or any goals at all). Each is experimental in some way and I find each inspiring.
Bernband Bernband  Tom Boogaart, 2014

Wander a futuristic city and experience its sights and sounds.

Game Jolt (free)
Betsy's Hospital Betsy's Hospital  Lilith Zone, 2020

Explore a room in a children's hospital at night. (pay what you want)
Apt.Map (a different game that I also recommend)
Crypt Worlds Crypt Worlds  Elizabeth Deadman and Zoë, 2013

This game may be a little more comedy-oriented than I'm generally going for in this list, but it's nice and surreal nonetheless. Includes some crude humor.

A sequel has been in development for a few years as of this writing.

creator's site (free)
Game Jolt (free)
Eversion Eversion  Zaratustra Productions, 2010

Eversion appears at first to be a simple 2D platformer, but it's not exactly what it appears to be.

Originally an entry in a 2008 Lovecraft-themed TIGSource contest and later enhanced.

Extreme Evolution: Drive to Divinity Extreme Evolution: Drive to Divinity  
Sam Atlas, 2024

A first-person action game. Pretty self-aware in its weirdness, but original and immersive enough that this isn't an issue.

Golden Light Golden Light  Mr. Pink, 2022

A first-person action game. Pretty self-aware in its weirdness, but original and immersive enough that this isn't an issue.

Icefishing V Icefishing V  Nate Gallardo, 2014

A brief, relentlessly experimental game with glitchy graphics and sound design.

If stuck, (highlight to reveal spoiler) find and enter structures that resemble phone booths. (free)
Ilamentia Ilamentia  Anthony Case, 2014

A first-person abstract puzzle game in which the goal is to "activate" souls and escape. The puzzles are varied, unexplained, and sometimes frustrating.

LSD: Dream Emulator LSD: Dream Emulator  Osamu Sato, et al., 1998

LSD differs from the other games in this list in that it's a commercially-published console game, but I can't leave it out.

Not only is it one of my all-time favorite games but you can't get more dreamlike than an adaptation of a dream journal.

I have a separate page dedicated to LSD here.
Memory of a Broken Dimension Memory of a Broken Dimension  xra, 2015

Oppresive glitch environments.

If you're stuck on the initial command line part, here's the solution (highlight to reveal spoiler): remote | voidscan | dive

The original game is now a demo for a forthcoming (as of this writing) expanded version. (pay what you want)
creator's site
Mouthole Mouthole  Anything Nose Productions, 2024

Explore your house and your mouth. A first-person game with surprising discoveries and multiple endings.
Space Funeral Space Funeral  thecatamites, 2010

A short 16-bit JRPG-style game with unusual characters and environments.

Game Jolt (free) (free)
10 Beautiful Postcards (a different game that I also recommend)
Strawberry Cubes Strawberry Cubes  Loren Schmidt, 2015

A 2D platformer with goals that are impenetrable if they exist at all. But that's not to say the experience isn't worthwhile. (pay what you want)
That Night, Steeped by Blood River That Night, Steeped by Blood River
Taylor Swietanski, 2020

A first-person exploration game with a unique visual style and environmental puzzles. (pay what you want)
Yume Nikki Yume Nikki  Kikiyama, 2004

In Yume Nikki (Japanese for "dream diary"), you explore dream worlds to collect 24 "effects."

I'd recommend starting with (highlight to reveal spoiler) the bicycle. Take the purple door at the bottom of the nexus to enter "Graffiti World." Walk straight left until you reach the bicycle. Collect and equip it.

Fandom (free)
Steam (free)
Steam page for remake (3D, not free, and inferior)