lsd dream emulator: my retrospective

in life, the sensuous dream


lsd dream emulator was many things to me: magical, unsettling, even relaxing. though i had heard about it before 2020, it was only then that i realized psx emulation was possible, allowing me to give it a try. my early readings on tv tropes and the lsd wiki painted the game as strange, sinister, mind intriguing (if not more). i was confronted with the wild unknowns this disc held. from the uncanniness of the bright moon cottage to the dual emotions of admiration and fright of the violence district, i was immersed in this world. i don't like picking at the game to find its secrets, though, so i'd rarely look up info on the game once i started playing it.

as weeks turned to months and months to years, i gradually played the game less and less. school and social events took up most of the time i would've dedicated to this game instead. revisiting it now, some of the magic has sadly gone. make no mistake, i still love this game, but the mystique that once compelled me to play for hours on end seems faded away after time and thought.

reading the wiki will have you believe that this game operates on some complex mechanism, analyzing not just your actions but your intentions, rewarding true dreaming and wandering and stifling exploration should you be intentionally trying to break the game. the mysterious chart, ever the centerpiece, was representative of the shadowy inner workings. at least in my experience, most dreams were clustered towards neutrality in the center, but should you achieve a dream on the extremes, the game would "reward" you with more strangeness, perhaps more lsd. dreaming more dreams would lead to new and unsettling experiences, mainly in the form of glitching textures and music. you'd watch the dream world fall apart as you prodded further.

one quote from tv tropes (which.. hmm... i can't find anymore) stands out to me to this day: "when no music loads, you know something bad is going to happen" (paraphrased from my memory). today, i know this is from corrupted files and incorrectly exported music in the game itself: music is loaded; it just so happens to be unplayable. regardless, conjectures like these added to the air of mystery this game holds.

fast forward a year or two, to the present day. updates on the lsd wiki, statements from Osamu Sato, and my own thoughts about this game have all made me realize: this is an earthly creation, without any advanced or supernatural means. glitches and corrupted textures were likely caused by using emulator save states; the game seems stable and predictable when using its own save mechanism. most (but thankfully not all) events the game has to offer has already been seen by my own eyes; despite the randomization, this game is regrettably, even tragically, finite. a game with seemingly infinite replay value has been found, in my opinion, to be not so. and so is my era of lsd exploration.

that's not to say lsd is no longer enjoyable. instead of feeling like a powerless explorer, i now feel like a local, enjoying familiar locations and people (or, npc's). i no longer tense up in anticipation of the giant head shooting its heads at me; i no longer feel claustrophobic and chased in the violence district. undoubtedly, a major pillar of the game's allure has crumbled, leaving me to experience a shell of what once was.

once novel, now nostalgic. i'll always remember the rush lsd dream emulator made me feel. it was particular to a certain time, a certain place, neither of which can be lived again.