Until You Wake Up features what I’ve come to call the anti-tutorial. It never helps you out, never offers you tidbits on where you’re going, or even how to control the game. You’re thrust into an unfamiliar world, and it’s on you to figure out what comes next. Similar to this year’s What Do We Do Now, I spent a moment on the opening screen just trying to figure out what I was even allowed to do.
As you puzzle out each solution, none of which I’ll spoil here because that’s part of the fun, your confidence in your abilities increases. You never gain any more knowledge about how to play, you just feel smarter as you go on. With each puzzle, I never felt like I was going to stumble across an answer by guessing, I knew I had to come to the solution on my own terms. As you progress, you slowly begin to learn the game’s vocabulary. By the end, you’ll finally feel fluent in its language.
Every solution “rewards” you with visions of an apparent tragedy, and you’ll see more of it as the story goes on. Until You Wake Up feels a bit like Neverending Nightmares trapped inside a GameBoy puzzle game, and that’s a compliment. If that’s something you think you’d be into, you probably already know.
If you’re confident enough to take on Until You Wake Up, try it for free on its Gamejolt page. It’s a breezy 20 minutes or so, and well worth the brainpower you’ll expend finishing it.