A Killer's Dream challenges the player to discover the identity of a killer by experiencing his terror-laden dreams.
The game begins with the protagonist asking, (her dream therapist?) about how entering the killer's dreams will work, which provides some exposition into what you'll be doing once in the dream.
After the brief scene (with voiced dialogue and photographs of the characters) you'll be ready to jump into your first dream; that is, you'll, from a first-person perspective see your character's ceiling, and their eyelids blinking- from there, you simply hold RT momentarily to fall asleep.
While asleep, some eerie music will play, accompanied by random images obscured by dark fog.
Most of these background images are normal, depicting various individuals, mostly women, as well as scenery.
The images one should concern themselves with, however, are those that, throughout the course of the dream will flash onto the screen.
These images range from being scary to simple macabre, and are accompanied by a loud effect to amplify their intensity and keep the player on their toes, and alert for what's hidden inside- symbols and letters.
The letters and symbols (particularly the letters) serve as hints to the killer's identity- the symbols, for the most part, are the killer attempting to trick you and throw you off-course.
Eventually you'll be awakened by your dream therapist, and given a list of twenty-five names.
At this point, you can either attempt to guess the killer's identity, or press B to indicate that you "need more time", which will take you back to the first-person view of the ceiling fan, in which you can go for dream #2-
it is noted, while in this view, in a red-bordered box that the dreams will "become more frightening over time".
Humorously, should you hold the RT button (effectively closing your eyes) only briefly, the red-bordered box will indicate "NO PEEKING!".
The process can be repeated five times (meaning a total of six dreams) in order to gather more clues.
Beyond that, you must choose one of the 25 names to pin the murder on.
Once you choose from the list of names, you'll see whether your choice was correct by a voiced Correct or Incorrect screen (with an accompanying photo), and then be returned to the main menu.
Another mode, Haunted House Mode, displays six dream sequences in a row for one's amusement.
Now, I know what you're thinking- how in the world can someone uncover a murderer's identity by revealing their first name?
That's one of those things in videogames where you have to suspend disbelief for a bit and just go with it.
As for the drawbacks- for one, game length.
You have the six dreams, your guess, and it's over- for better or worse, correct guess or not, you're back to the menu.
Secondly, while single player, the game's style would be more suited to a party game- if this game had, say, 4-player multiplayer, where everyone would have their own guess (and could be eliminated inbetween dreams if they guess wrong) then it'd have a bit more replay value.
To sum it up- between the eye-catching cover art (a woman's face separated from a man's devious smile by a butcher knife) the unique gameplay, and the eighty MSP price, it's no surprise that the game is, as of this review's posting, among the top downloaded Indie Games.
If you're looking for a long-term commitment, you'd probably be best suited looking elsewhere.
But if you're looking for a quick fix of fear-at least, in the sense of not knowing when or what the next image to pop out at you will be- then it's worth spending the eighty Microsoft Points.