Publisher: Red Thread Games
Developer: Red Thread Games
Release Date: 10/21/2014
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The Longest Journey is actually one of my favorite games of all time. It was one of the first PC games I played as well and what pushed me to get into PC gaming. Adventure games were something that console players couldn’t really get. The rich stories, great voice acting, and detailed characters were something only a PC could really do. The Longest Journey impressed me with all of this and I remember it to this day. It was followed up by Dreamfall that pushed the game into a new generation with 3D models and backgrounds and brought the game to consoles for the first time as well and it was also just as memorable. We now get the final chapters of this story and I have to say I walked away quite satisfied.
You play once again as Zoe Castillo. A woman who is a Dreamer and able to go between the dream world Arcadia and the real world, Stark. You also play as Kian who is in Arcadia. The ex-leader of a racist and fascist human country trying to exterminate all magical creatures. Both characters are strong, likable, and I really got attached to them through their journey. The many characters throughout Dreamfall are great actually and it was a joy to listen to their great voice acting and find out more about them. However, the game does have some pacing issues and I’ll get into that later. There is a lot of politics in the game that reflects real-world issues (more so now more than ever) and the subjects get a bit touchy and might rub some people the wrong way, but I’m glad a game story is actually challenging these issues.
The biggest draw to Dreamfall is the choices you make during key events in each book. These will pause time and you get a limited amount of time to choose a path. The consequences will occur usually later on somewhere and these events are shown with a logo in the top right corner of the screen. This symbol means that current action or event is from a choice you made earlier, but it’s never clear what choices lead to which events, and this is where I will state the choice system is flawed. Later on in the game, the choices kind of a blur and become unclear and seem less impactful. The first two books do a great job of making sure your choices are felt but later on I couldn’t tell anymore.
When it comes to actually playing the game, well, there isn’t much of one. You run around various areas finding objects to use on other objects and talking to people. That’s literally it with very few puzzles. The puzzles are stupidly easy or frustratingly obtuse. My biggest complaint about the entire game would be the areas you explore are static and lifeless. Sure, they seem like they’re full of life the first couple of time you walk through them, but I spent so much time looking at maps to find the next area to go to just wandering by the same group of people, the same icon that lets you hear the character’s inner thoughts about that item and nothing ever changes. I spent the first two books inside the same hub areas for each character it became a drag just to get to the next scene. I would have liked to see more organic changes, more things to looks at and more inner dialog written as you spend a third of the game in these hub areas.
Most of the game is talking and cut scenes, however, and that’s what adventure games are all about. The voice acting is superb, the characters are fun to listen to and learn about, and I felt sucked into this magical world, especially being a fan of the series. However, that’s what this game is made for: fans of the series. If you haven’t played previous games you will most likely be lost and the story won’t mean as much to you. There are constant references to characters meeting in previous games and previous events and they are never explained. The backstory from the main menu is pretty much pointless as well. The world just feels magical and wonderful and it was a good time while I was in it.
The visuals are also pretty good of an adventure game, clearly last-gen, but this did come out in 2014. The facial animations are stiff, but overall it looks nice with great lighting effects and lots of detail everywhere. The game doesn’t seem well optimized though as certain lights will tank the FPS even on high-end hardware, so the engine needs a lot of work. The ending was also not as expected. It was good as in it made sense, but there was no crazy plot twist or anything like that. It came to a slow stop instead of full-speed and making your head spin as a good ending would. But, overall, Dreamfall Chapters is satisfying enough and completes a long-beloved series that will probably never get another game again.