A soft whimper causes you to look up from your work. It’s your dog, who is sleeping peacefully in bed. Is she dreaming? Her legs twitch slightly. Maybe she’s running around in a field, chasing a squirrel. She’s too old to do that now, but you like to think that the tiny mammal stood no chance in the dreamscape. “Wow.” You think to yourself. “She’s doing such a great job laying there.”
You rouse yourself from the couch and tiptoe over to the sleeping dog and carefully drop to your knees and place your face mere inches from her nose. She hears you approaching and her eyes, disoriented and cloudy, open. “Hey, girl.” You reach out to boop her nose. She is unamused, and buries her face underneath her paws and sneezes before dozing off once more.
An independent game studio formed by Peter Lipert and Sawa Bialczynska, Psilocybe Games is setting out on a quest to create funny and beautiful stories through pixel art. Their latest endeavor focuses on “an uplifting game about a dog’s loyalty.” If you’d like to toss them a bone, there’s an active Kickstarter campaign.
That game is Balthazar’s Dream, a puzzle platformer that takes place within a dog’s dream. You play as the good boy Balthazar, a border collie who is tasked with using their scent of smell to follow their owner Dustin within his subconscious. Like any other child and pet duo, Balthazar and Dustin are inseparable—even after being struck by a careless driver, the loyal dog curls up by his caretaker’s feet on the hospital bed, determined to make sure the boy isn’t taken away.
Inside Balthazar’s dream is Dustin, who leads you through the world and helps you jump onto couches and tables, which is appropriate given the nature of dogs and their affinity for ruining furniture. Because he’s loyal and good, Balthazar takes it upon himself to save Dustin from the shadowy entity that lurks in the darkness, determined to take the boy away. The set pieces that make up the dream world of Balthazar’s head are what you would expect to see from a dog’s perspective: fire hydrants, bones, the shadowy ghost form of her owner … it’s heartwarming to see the love and dedication the pixelated pooch has for Dustin as he jumps from platform to platform, trying to stay on his scent.
There’s no guarantee that your dog will dream about rescuing you from the inevitable paws of death, but at least they’ll look cute as they sleep.
For more information about Balthazar’s Dream, click here.