Yume Nikki was one of those games where we did not really know who people were. We knew the heroine, Madotsuki, but had to make assumptions about the identities of other characters and what roles they may have played in her life. In some cases, they were given names due to titles found in files or given names by fans due to their appearances. Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is similar in that it is again a wordless adventure. But when it reintroduces these other women, it gives us an opportunity to perhaps learn more about them and how they relate to Madotsuki.
One thing that I feel is really important is how Yume Nikki: Dream Diary tries to make sure we realize this Madotsuki is the one from the original game. Her outfit is the same. The diary features art that calls back to the original and shows how it changed. But most importantly, sometimes the game will actually turn into the original Yume Nikki. When the dream begins, she will be outside. She can head back into the old room. It is only when she heads to the hall of doors that things go back to the new normal. I felt like this was some sort of indication of progression. That between this and the events of the game, maybe we are looking at a slightly older version of her. She has some of the same effects, like the knife, flute and umbrella. Things have slightly shifted and while the same open world effect is not there, we are getting further elaboration on her mental state from the things we see.
Monoko becomes a bit clearer, which means we can understand Madotsuki’s relationship with her better. This is a young woman with pigtails. In the first game, she has a more vacant look than other characters and will change form if Madotsuki uses the stoplight ability, making her look far more unsettling. In Yume Nikki: Dream Diary, it seems more clear that Monoko is dead. We first see her in a room filled with empty beds that often have candles next to them. Monoko is giggling as we explore, but when we find her she runs. After wearing her down a bit, she pauses in an empty, side room. It is then that she changes to her stoplight form. But this time, she appears to be surrounded by onibi, the blue ghostly fire-orbs. These are said to be malicious spirits who suck at people’s souls, and Monoko is surrounded by them. She also is definitely not Madotsuki’s friend at this point. Perhaps she was a friend at a boarding school who died and the dream suggests Madotsuki feels some guilt over this?
Poniko is another character whose actions in Yume Nikki: Dream Diary suggest more about her. In the first game, she is alone in a room and her facial expression makes her seem a bit annoyed. She may even become Uboa if the light switch is flicked. This is elaborated upon when we find Poniko here. She will notice when Madotsuki comes in, but does not leave her desk. She will not let you see what she is working on if you come close. The only time she acts at all is when you turn the light on and off, and doing so enough bothers her enough that she screams and, as expected, becomes Uboa. There is another side to Poniko, and Madotsuki is able to see and force her to show her true self. That she reacts so vehemently here really reinforces how little she may think of Madotsuki.
We even see some characters receive more development in Yumi Nikki: Dream Diary. In particular, I am referring to Monoe. In the original game, you can only see Monoe if you used the knife on the backward-walking Dave Spector near the tunnel, then head into the tunnel. But in this new game, we interact with her far more. We see her aversion to Madotsuki. Even though we need to find parts of a photo and show it to her in the school, she is seen crying and screams if we try to come near her. She also very obviously fears or dislikes Kyuukyuu-kun. It suggests that Monoe may have been assaulted, and since Madotsuki finds the picture and cries along with Monoe, that perhaps she also knew about it. It gives this one-off character far more depth and provides more hints as to how the two were related.
With the extra characterization present in Yume Nikki: Dream Diary, we can draw new conclusions about Madotsuki and her relationships with each character. We can see how she views some, how they may view her and their current status in her life. But then, we also have to remember that this is a dream. We only see things from Madotsuki’s unconscious perspective, so we only have hints about what could be. Still, it helps enhance the overall lore.
Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is available for PCs.