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You will find out... that sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused.

In 2004, Japanese Freeware developer Kikiyama popped open the RPG Maker 2003 game application and thought to herself, "Hey, wouldn't it be an awesome idea to make something that'll creep a lot of people out?" Such is the origin of Yume Nikki (Japanese for "dream diary"), a bizarre adventure game that's been described as "Earthbound meets Silent Hill" or "Eraserhead in RPG Maker" and does not fail to bring on the weirdness factor.

The plot is simple: as Madotsuki, a girl that seems to have an obsession with a single, incredibly depressing video game, all you can do each day is sleep - during which you must travel throughout her dreamscape to collect "effects" and reach new areas in the world. It's extremely open-ended, with little hints as to how to actually progress; really, it's more about exploring the strange and disturbing things that go on in her mind than anything else.

The current version of the game, 0.10, was released in October 2007 along with an English translation of the effects and menus. Download, and have fun playing this in the dead of night!

For French Tropers, the game was recently fully translated in Molière's language and is available for download here.

See also LSD Dream Emulator, a game with a similar premise, only in 3D and with randomized environments. It is the Ur Example of games like this.

Not related to Mirai Nikki.

Tropes used in Yume Nikki include:
  • Acid Trip Dimension
  • Alien Blood: Averted: when Madotsuki stabs a creature it doesn't matter what it is --a bird girl, a giant foot-Martian who cries green tears, a poop monster, a horrified face on the wall-- they will always bleed red blood.
  • All Just a Dream: The entirety of Madotsuki's adventures. Of course, this is no secret.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Mainly the people in the Mall, but there are strangely colored people in other areas too, like Shitai.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted with the Knife effect. Madotsuki always holds the knife in one particular hand regardless of what direction she's facing. You can change the hand she holds the knife in by pressing '1'.
  • An Ice Person: The "Yuki-Onna" effect gives Madotsuki the ability to start a snowstorm.
  • Art Shift: Pretty much the whole game. Most areas have different styles, like Number/Neon world, the forests, the wildernesses... and the 8-bit-area.
  • Berserk Button: Normal Toriningen do not appreciate it when they or their brethren get stabbed.
  • Bizarro Fiction: One of the few non-literature works that can definitely be called this.
  • Blackout Basement: The Dark World and the dark maze.
  • The Blank: The "Nopperabou" effect.
  • Body Horror:
    • A lot of the things you find around the dreamworld could apply. Like those horrifying portraits you find in the sewers.
    • The white desert itself seems to be composed of various body parts sticking out of the ground in places. It's also where you find Monoko, the five-armed girl.
  • Body Motifs: Eyes and hands, as well as anything Freudian.
  • Catgirl: The Cat effect, naturally. It draws NPCs to you -- even Uboa, who doesn't move on his own!
  • Crapsack World /CrapSaccharineWorld /EldritchLocation /SugarBowl: All the dreamscapes exist somewhere on this spectrum. From Hell, to the park at night time, to the world of blocks, to the forest, cheerful neon city. Some places are even in between like the refugee camp, the mall, or the monster bar.
  • Cosmetic Award: Almost all of the effects do nothing meaningful except alter Madotsuki's appearance.
  • Creepy Child: Madotsuki could be interpreted as this. She is a quiet Hikikomori who has no qualms about stabbing numerous innocent creatures to death within her highly disturbing dreamscape.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Some rooms seem like part of a larger area, but are actually entirely separate from it. Examples include the secret room Hell's Crossroads, which is smaller and simpler than its more major counterpart, and the second Wilderness area, which serves only to connect the Teleport Maze and the Famicom World. A case of Tropes Are Not Bad, as this trope is used to induce Mind Screw and Empty Room Psych.
  • Cute and Psycho/Ax Crazy: Another, less popular Madotsuki representation, based on a certain effect.
  • Cute Witch: Madotsuki can become one through the Witch effect.
  • Deconstruction Game: Gameplay-wise, the game takes non-linear exploration to its logical extreme, basing itself entirely on traversing Beautiful Void and little else. While it may or may not have been the author's intent, it does prove a point to gamers with little patience.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The White Desert and Spaceship areas.
  • Dream Land: The entire premise of the game.
  • Dream People: Because Madotsuki won't leave her bedroom in her waking life, these individuals are the only ones she can encounter and interact with.
  • Dream Within a Dream: One possible interpretation.
  • Drone of Dread: Several of the background songs, like the appropriately named "Hellish Hum".
  • Downer Ending/Driven to Suicide
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Because Madotsuki has few things to due in her waking world besides refuse to leave her bedroom, play her Famicon, or visit her balcony, she spends most of her time exploring her bizarre dream world as she sleeps.
  • Dummied Out: There are two huge islands on the 8-bit plains map that can't be accessed without cheating.
  • Eldritch Abomination: So many of them scattered across the dream.
  • Empty Room Psych: There are dozens of rooms that look like effort was put into making them stand out but have nothing going on. Like nearly everything else in the game, this is most likely intended to creep out the player.
  • Empty Shell: Nearly all of the characters Madotsuki sees in her dreams are this, being nothing more than fragments of her imagination. Madotsuki herself may also be one, as she lacks any personality other than what's shown in her dreams, forcing you to fill in this void and come up with your own interpretation.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Madotsuki.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The Medamaude effect.
  • Fan Nickname: Many of the character and area names are unofficial.
  • Fan Sequel: A number of them, here's a short list:
    • Yume 2 kki: An utterly massive collaborative project. Currently in the Obvious Beta stage, as its still in development.
    • Dot Flow which ratchets up the horror elements.
    • Yume Nisshi
    • LCDDEM which implements a more serene atmosphere.
    • SICKMIND
    • Amnesia: which stars a ghost girl.
    • Answered Prayers: which is currently unfinished but seems to be shaping up to be a deconstruction of this kind of game, given that your character can talk.
    • Dream vs. Dream: A work in progress fighter fangame which includes characters from Yume Nikki and several of the more popular fangames.
    • Besides these, there are more (Japanese and Western) Fangames in the works.
  • Fan Work:
    • The excellent "24 effects" remix album.
    • Mars Residence.
    • This fan film.
    • An upcoming remix album by Silent Cicada. Official journal on deviantART here
    • This fan vid illustrating one possible explanation for the events in the game.
  • Fat Girl: The Fat effect allows Madotsuki to become this.
  • Fetch Quest/Gotta Catch Em All: The 24 effects.
  • Fish Eyes: Masada has 6_9 shaped eyes.
  • Foreshadowing: One may notice a recurring bloodstain on the ground in the dream world.
  • Fundamentally Funny Fruit: NASU, the eggplant-catching minigame
  • Gag Penis: Kyukyu-kun resembles a column-sized pink dildo with a perpetual smile on it.
  • Game Breaking Bug: Parodied in the 8-bit dungeon with a particular event where "talking" to a seemingly-nondescript wall tile will cause it to bring up a dialogue box with nothing in it, and repeated interactions with it will cause the graphics to corrupt and the game to eventually "crash" 8-bit style, followed by Madotsuki waking up.
  • Genre Busting: It's made on RPG Maker, but it's not an RPG. It's a horror game... Except not really. It's an adventure game. It's an exploration game. What is it, anyway?
    • "Exploration game" is probably the closest guess, but you could call it a number of other types and nobody could say that you're really wrong.
  • Girlish Pigtails: The Toriningen and Monoko have these. Madotsuki also has her braids.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: Madotsuki wields her knife liberally upon the residents within her dreams.
  • Grotesque Gallery
  • Guide Dang It: It's quite unlikely that you'll find every event and place on your own.
  • Half Human Hybrids: The Toriningen. Their species name literally means "bird person".
  • The Hero Dies: Actually, even this is ambiguous. In fact, some cite the fact that dream world jellyfish appear near Madotsuki's blood pool as proof that Madotsuki didn't die, or that the real world was ALSO All Just a Dream.
  • Heroic Mime: Justified, as there isn't any dialogue to be shared in the first place.
  • Hikikomori: One Alternate Character Interpretation of Madotsuki.
  • Hit Points: You start with one. You gain more by drinking soda you get for money. They serve no purpose whatsoever ...seemingly.
  • Homage:
    • One of the areas of the game is rendered in an 8-bit style reminiscent of the original Mother. Even the Effects menu transforms to fit the motif. It even includes an exact replica of the palace and its immediate surroundings from that game's Magicant.
    • Remember when your game would crash because the cartridge wasn't inserted correctly or was dirty? There is an event that simulates that.
  • Image Boards: Uboachan
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Deconstructed, when Madotsuki is denied being able to join a Toriningen picnic because of a few plants in her way (that might easily be cut down by her knife effect); this can be taken as a sign of social exclusion.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Combined with The Un-Reveal. The player can only guess what's really going on in there.
  • Jump Scare: Could be evoked by several events. For example, encountering Uboa, getting eaten by Big Red, going through the door with FACE in it...
  • Just One More Level: Show Within a Show NASU.
  • Konami Code: Typing left, right, left, right, up, up, down, down, on Nasu's title screen causes the character's head to turn into an eggplant.
  • Knife Nut: Most NPCs don't react to you at all when you try to interact with them. So what else can Madotsuki do to get an interesting reaction out of them? Stab them!
  • Let's Play: Here's one of the better-known ones. Since most of the fun of Yume Nikki is in the exploration, it's advised that potential players give the game a whirl before watching, or else only watch a little bit at first to determine if it's the right game for you.
    • Another one is located on the Let's Play archive. It uses subtitles in an attempt to retain the ambiance of the original game.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Used in a dark, isolated boiler room with a crying Mars-san.
  • Looks Like Cesare: Masada and Uboa.
  • Mayincatec: A lot of things in Madotsuki's dreams seem to vaguely resemble Meso-American deals. So much so that one event is referred to as "Disco Aztecs".
  • The Maze: Quite a few. And the game never gives any hints about where the effects are hidden, so you'll just have to try every single path if you don't want to use a walkthrough.
  • Meaningful Name: Although the literal translation of "Madotsuki" is "windowed," and thus possibly a reference to her shirt pattern, it's also a somewhat obscure Japanese term for a person who spends a long time looking out the window; that is, a daydreamer.
  • Memetic Outfit: Madotsuki's shirt.
  • Mental Story: It's about a hikikomori lucid dreamer, whose primary interaction with the products of her subconscious is to stab them with knives.
    • However, this could be explained by them being nightmares, in which case one would be likely to either run or fight any beings.
  • Mental World: Of course.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read
  • Mind Screw
  • Mini Game: "NASU" (Japanese for "eggplant"), the most depressingly futile minigame ever made. It doesn't help one's spirits that the game music (only heard when you start the game and inevitably lose) is off-rhythm and out of tune.
  • Mistaken Identity: A funny meta example, fans stumble onto this Youtube channel, thinking it's the same Kikiyama who made this game.
  • Mook Bouncer: The crazy Toriningen always warp you to an inescapable area. Stabbing a nice Toriningen will make her into one of these.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Toriningen picnic.
  • Nightmare Face: Many, with the most memorable being, well, Face.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The game consists largely of a series of these.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: The normal way to end your dream session and wake up is to pinch yourself awake. However, certain events, such as FACE, the 8-bit game crash event, and disembarking your broom during the witch event will involuntarily wake Madotsuki back up.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The message boxes, which appear before the "Glitch" event, are unsettling empty. So is the entire dungeon area, which is dark (necessitating the use of the Lamp effect if you wanna see where you're going), and the room where the event occurs is an eerie, nondescript dead-end. See also the Empty Room Psych example above.
    • This also applies anywhere no NPCs can be found in.
  • Off with His Head: the Severed Head effect
  • Overly Long Fan-Given Nickname: Seccom Masada's. "Seccom Masada" is the abridged form of Sentimental Komuro Maikeru Sakamoto Dada Sensei. Fans mostly nicknamed him after several famous people he resembles.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: What else would inhabit a creepy and surreal dream world?
  • Parental Abandonment: Where are her parents? Or at least any existing caretaker? How young is she, anyway?
  • Perpetual Beta: The game is still in v0.10. This is also true of its fangames.
  • Pinch Me: Literally, pinching herself gets Madotsuki out of the dream world.
  • Press X to Die: During the Witch event, you fly over a huge cityscape. Pressing "1" (which normally causes you to disembark your broom) will cause the screen to fade out, followed by a crashing sound and you waking up on the floor face first.
  • Quicksand Box: Since there is absolutely no dialogue or anything vaguely resembling a hint, getting completely lost is a very real possibility.
    • Fortunately, getting out of them is as simple as a single press of a key.
  • The Quiet One: Madotsuki only can say two (Japanese) lines in the game, and that's when she can't use an effect or can't perform an action due to an effect being in use: "Dame" (No) and "Muri" (Impossible).
  • Randomly Drops: Not quite a drop, but lots of events are random.
    • Triggering the Uboa event is a 1-in-64 chance. The element of surprise makes it all the more terrifying.
    • The Mars Event has a 1 in 20 chance, contrary to most events having 1 in 64.
    • A particular event in the White Desert has a whopping 1 in 3600 chance. It's called Takofuusen (octopus balloon), by the way.
      • Some believe it's actually this. Warning! Squick!
      • To be fair, that chance comes with every step. It's not generated once you enter the map or every time you sleep or anything like that, so walking around for a few minutes will usually produce a Takofuusen.
    • A more straight example is money, which randomly drops from killed foes.
    • The Aztec event on Madotsuki's TV.
  • Reclusive Artist: Kikiyama, the game's creator. We aren't even sure of his/her gender.
  • Retraux: The "Famicom World" areas.
    • Also NASU, which is made in an 8-bit style and appears to be played on a Famicom.
  • Scare Chord: From Uboa when you encounter him.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: So, you explored all your dreams, just so you can walk up a few steps and jump to your death, from the same balcony that you start out on. As if you couldn't have done that in the first place?
    • However, it could be because her "dreams" are actually suppressed traumatic events that haunt her in her dreams, forcing her to seek help - something she's unlikely to do - live with it, or commit suicide to stop the nightmares. The only reason she deals with these all these horrors at once is because you force her to, leading to her mind being unable to handle the stress, thus making her choose suicide. Of course, what would have had to happen to cause those to be traumatic events is up to the imagination.
  • Surreal Horror
  • Turns Red: Normal Toriningen will normally go about their business, leaving you alone. If you anger them by stabbing one, they will turn mad and chase you, banishing you to an inescapable area if they catch you.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: The Witch Event, sort of. Nothing happens save for Witch!Madotsuki flying over a city in Horizontal Scrolling Shooter fashion.
  • The Unintelligible: Masada the alien pianist can only vocalize in chirps and beeps.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can stab virtually anything with the Knife effect, which sometimes gives you money. There's a reason some depictions of her are gleefully homicidal.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Stabbing a sane Toriningen will make her demented and turns her into a Goddamn Bat. Stabbing one of the sane ones in the number world might cause the area where you get the Severed Head effect to be larger, with more Toriningen chasing you. The candle world also contains one that is VERY FAST when angered, almost guaranteeing you'll get caught if you anger her.
    • How fast? Activate the faster of the two speed glitches. It will be able to keep pace with you.
    • Also, if you make one Toriningen mad, they all get mad, and will stay mad until the next time you wake up.
  • Warp Whistle: The Medamaude effect, which brings you back to the Nexus.
  • White Mask of Doom: The creature Uboa highly resembles a distorted Noh mask. If you encounter Uboa, he emits a Scare Chord and you are locked within the dark room with him. If you touch him, he teleports you to a nightmarish inescapable area.
  • Wide Open Sandbox
  • Widget Series: A rather dark one, at that.
  • The Wiki Rule: Here.
  • World Map: A certain area looks like one of these, which is itself another Homage.
  • Wrap Around: Some areas do this, making the area seem much larger than it actually is.
  • Youkai: A number of effects, Yuki-onna and Oni in particular.
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