Niko: Through the Dream – Review
Follow Genre: indie adventure puzzle game
Developer: Studio Paint
Publisher: Studio Paint
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Niko: Through the Dream – Review

Site Score
Good: Beautiful environments, challenging levels
Bad: No indication of which keys to use, sometimes clunky movement
User Score
(6 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.3/10 (6 votes cast)

A spiritual journey combined with puzzling but engaging challenges, as well as an astonishingly attractive environment…who would have put these elements together? Thankfully, Studio Paint did. The result is Niko: Through the Dream. This charming adventure puzzle game brings something unique to the genre. Something we could have expected, as Studio Paint’s slogan for this game goes, “dare to dream!”

Niko Through the Dream Logo


In Niko: Through the Dream, we join Niko as she is trying to make the journey back to her world, facing dreams that represent pieces of her past. Each memory presents itself as a trap or a puzzle in which you must navigate Niko through to get her closer to home. Shown, not told, the story is left completely to the imagination of the player through various images- some of which you have to be in the right place at the right time to see. This truly makes travelling through Niko’s mysterious memories fascinating, as one can end up with a different interpretation each time given the images you might have come across.

Niko Through the Dream 2


The game blends the use of Unreal Engine and 2D childlike drawings in an unusual way, which strangely works given the nature of the tale that Niko: Through the Dream is telling. With the memories of Niko’s past being projected on large, white surfaces like a home movie, one can just imagine a young child scribbling pictures in a stop-motion storybook.

In contrast, each island is truly breathtaking and full of gorgeous but simple colours that really make the memories come alive. From an island dominated by a gigantic tree, to a white maze full of scary robots that look like Wheatley from Portal 2 chasing you, each memory is beautifully immersive, and truly reflects the effort that Studio Paint has put into it.

Niko Through the Dream 3


The music in Niko: Through the Dream also fits the bill of minimalism, and proves frequently to be more atmospheric than entirely melodic. However, given how the game is presented, this is perfect for the situations that Niko finds herself in. For example, a nightmarish encounter with a strange creature uses a darker, more frightening tone to set the player on edge- just as Niko would be. In contrast, seeing a childhood memory played before you evokes gentle, twinkling music that represents the innocence of Niko’s past.

One criticism of some of the sounds used, especially when in water, is that they are slightly ear-piercing. As there is no possibility to change the sound balance, the only option is to turn your sound down manually. However, this is a minor problem and takes nothing away from what is an interesting and well-employed underscore.

Niko Through the Dream 4


Niko: Through the Dream is a puzzle adventure game played entirely in first person, which allows you to see the world through Niko’s eyes. The key bindings are relatively simple: W/S for forwards and backwards (used in combination with the mouse to go in a particular direction) A/D to strafe left and right, Space or CTRL to jump, E/Right Click to grab or activate puzzle pieces, and ESC to bring up the pause menu. However, although these keys are indeed quite normal for most games, the fact that there is no real tutorial in which you are told the controls means that you must guess which key to press in which situation. The title has also done away with any form of writing, both within the story and the instructions, with an exception being in the starting area where you are prompted with the E button. Although this artistic choice is interesting and does allow the player freedom to do as they please, it makes it slightly frustrating when you have to press every button under the sun to find out what you are doing. This also makes some puzzles particularly difficult, as there is a discrepancy between which keys to use. For example, whilst one puzzle required the use of the right mouse button to drag an object, a later puzzle wanted us to hold the E button whilst dragging a ball, and then reverted back to the right click in another puzzle. This issue could have been easily avoided with either a brief tutorial, or having the keys indicated over each interactive object.

Niko Through the Dream 5

Another more superficial problem with the controls is that the swimming sections prove particularly difficult, as the path does not always follow the player’s line of sight- which makes swimming downwards in a straight line rather troublesome. There were many times where we became frustrated because we nearly drowned whilst trying to open a hatch.

This being said, Niko: Through the Dream features challenging but entertaining puzzles that more than make up for the slight shortfalls. With some being tricky jumping puzzles, some having traps designed to catch you out, as well as having puzzles designed to make you think, this game truly has it all. No two islands feature the same kind of conundrum, making each area unique to the memories of Niko. This variety in gameplay means that the player can never be bored by copy-and-paste levels that can sometimes feature in titles like this. The only thing you might find yourself doing is shouting at the screen in frustration, but fret not. Each puzzle can certainly be completed- you just need to keep your wits about you and explore every nook and cranny for clues. Just be aware that as there is no manual save option, you can’t always leave a puzzle halfway through and expect to still be in the same place when you return.



Niko: Through the Dream is an intriguing title that really charms you from the start with its amazing graphics. Despite problems with unclear key bindings, the intimacy of discovering Niko’s story for yourself through imagery and music really drew us in and made the game all that more personal. The puzzles themselves also proved to be very entertaining, and left us feeling very satisfied indeed when we finally completed them. This title was an absolute delight, and would be perfect for anyone who really enjoys a good challenge whilst also experiencing a minimalist but profound story.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.3/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
Niko: Through the Dream - Review, 8.3 out of 10 based on 6 ratings

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