1999’s The Longest Journey is renowned as one of the greatest adventure games ever created. A point and click adventure, The Longest Journey was set in two parallel universes, the magical Arcadia, and the industrial world of Stark. Players were able to shift between these universes and tasked with restoring the balance and peace to the worlds. In 2006 a sequel emerged titled Dreamfall, it brought back the original character, April, and introduced two new characters, Zoe and Kian. Dreamfall also bought the game forward by introducing a 3D world. Although set within the same universe the prequel was not essential to pick up the storyline. Now, 11 years later the third instalment, Dreamfall Chapters has arrived, thanks to a massively funded Kickstarter project.
For those that have not played either of the sequels, fear not. Dreamfall Chapters does a great job of bringing you tup to speed with the storyline within the first book or episode as they are referred to. The first book is a little slow as a result and has you playing as Zoe and Kian from the immediate sequel, as it pieces together how you have arrived at this point in the storyline, doing so with some story progression also.
Dreamfall Chapters plays as a third person adventure game where players have two main tasks to complete along with some exploration. Your tasks are to solve puzzles, generally by using various items found and interacting with objects, and making storyline choices and conversation options in which to progress and alter the outcomes of the story.
The puzzles are possibly the weakest part of the game, with nearly all being quite easy. I did find that at times I knew what had to be done but the path to completion was either not clear to see or find. This is due to being in the incorrect position as to bring up your option tree which shows that an object can be used. If you are stuck, holding down R2 moves into an over the shoulder view and enables you to manipulate the camera. This is extremely necessary in tight confines.
Interacting with non-player characters is great. Learning about each and the way that you couple dialogue is both intriguing and interesting and I found the writing of Dreamfall Chapters to be quite excellent. Generally, there are four options of dialogue, each granting or hindering knowledge of each character. This is a thinking man’s game, without knowledge you can both impair or alter your path through the game. You are presented choices, similar to Telltale Series games, that alter the stories direction. Fleshing out more information seems to give you the knowledge to help with some of these decisions. You can also become either and honourable type player, or one that is partially chaotic. It is all about choices.
The control scheme works reasonably well but it does feel a little clunky at times. The inventory and menus likewise are clunky and feel quite dated. I do like the fact that instead of a dialogue wheel, which most games use, Dreamfall Chapters favours text floating on the screen. With game altering choices, you are able to look at what the community chose before making your choice. It makes no real difference but is a nice addition, also after making said choices an icon flashes up and turns, stating the balance has shifted. Again, makes no huge difference but it does make each decision feel weighty and impactful. I have yet to play the game through a second time due to time constraints, but would like to see the impacts of different decision making.
Dreamfall Chapters uses the Unity 4 engine, then changes to the Unity 5 for the last two books. The character models look very good, especially for a game costing forty dollars and containing over thirty hours of gameplay. The lip syncing is very good and the world itself is well designed. Having two different worlds to explore is quite fascinating as both are a stark contrast to each other. The industrial, cyber type world of Stark is vibrant and full of colour. Stark is a more natural setting, which feels dark and gloomy. Theses worlds fit the script perfectly. Animation is mostly good. At times the Unity 4 engine feels to struggle but the images remain reasonably consistent with no tearing.
The voice acting is excellent, which is more than welcome in a game that thrives on character development and narration. Strange to say but I fell in love with Zoe’s voice, and when attached to her story my affinity with the character and her plight was strong.
If adventure games, or engaging and complexed stories are your cup of tea look no further. Lovers of Telltale will instantly fall in love with this game, as no doubt will the gamers old enough to have played through the prequels. Fans of the point and click genre would also gain appreciation for what is on offer here. It may not be perfect, the clunky controls and easy puzzles are a letdown, but the story and character depth is second to few. Definitely worth the admission price!