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RPG Maker often gets a bad rap because there are so many unpolished and unfinished games that have been made with it. Games like To The Moon, World's Dawn, and Mimicry Man buck that preconception by using completely custom-built gameplay systems. Sweet Lily Dreams, however, stands out just by being an exemplary Japanese-style RPG. It uses surreal dream worlds as an excuse to avoid reusing the same old forest and desert environments and replacing statues to be pushed onto switches with things like zippers to unzip floor tiles so that water can flow. That layer of extra creativity coupled with an interesting storyline makes Sweet Lily Dreams a game that any JRPG fan should check out.

At the start of the game, the titular character Lily is being put to bed by her mother. Her dream turns into a nightmare, but guardians come along to defeat the creatures that plague her rest. They are inexperienced, however, and botch the job, leaving an opening for Lily to follow them back to their base of operations. Now out of her dream world, Lily can be harmed, but she and her young guardians end up embarking on a journey that will take them through the twisted worlds created by someone who calls himself The Writer.

Sweet Lily Dreams has a pretty robust crafting system. Materials can be purchased, earned by defeating monsters, or found laying around. Those materials can then be used to make things such as spells for the playable characters to learn, consumables, or furniture for the main character's house in the dream world. The house is very customizable, and the furniture you have can give your party buffs in battle. The game encourages experimentation, since certain sets and combinations of items give special bonuses.

The battle system in Sweet Lily Dreams is pretty standard RPG Maker fare for the most part, but the graphics, like all the graphics in the game, are custom made and the character status interface is more like what you'd see in a Tales series game than a Final Fantasy game. There isn't anything really special about the battle system, but there's nothing particularly bad about it, either.

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People who don't enjoy JRPGs because they dislike the gameplay probably won't find anything to appeal to them in Sweet Lily Dreams. People who dislike the kinds of stories in RPGs from Japan but don't find the gameplay distasteful should consider giving Sweet Lily Dreams a try; there is a one-hour demo available from the developer. Fans of JRPGs should definitely give Sweet Lily Dreams a chance.

Sweet Lily Dreams is available for Windows only, as are all RPG Maker games, and can be purchased directly from the developer for $19.99 or on Steam for $14.99. At the time of this writing it is also available as part of a Humble Weekly Bundle with two versions of RPG Maker (VX Ace and XP), some RPG Maker assets, and a bunch of other RPG Maker games including To The Moon.