PC REVIEW: DREAMFALL: THE LONGEST JOURNEY

An adventure, adventure fans can really sink their teeth into. by Mike Chasselwaite

April 20, 2006 - Dreamfall is the sequel to what many consider to be one of the best adventure games of all times, The Longest Journey. The developers are well aware of the heritage this game represents and has delivered a product that is a worth contender to the throne.

Where Dreamfall excels is in telling a story. The imaginative characters and locations are truly memorable and create a unique experience that makes the ride more enjoyable than the destination. It's all about the journey. Although it's an adventure game you would assume that the control system is of the point-and-click variety. Instead, the character is controlled much like a character in an action game. This gives you more of a sense of interactivity since you can explore the environments with more freedom. You also have more control over the character as far as moves are concerned. Although limited, there are some instances where you will use combat and stealth. There are some puzzles and combat sequences but they are downplayed in favor of maintaining the momentum of the story. Consider Dreamfall an interactive movie. With a compelling story and a cast of well-voiced characters you won't want to be wasting time sliding tiles around in some arbitrary puzzle.

Those that have played The Longest Journey will recognize not only some characters from that game but also the affect of the parallel worlds of magic and technology that April had to shift between to regain a harmonic balance. It's not required that you play the first game to enjoy Dreamfall. It's developed so that you don't need to have prior knowledge but at the same time this new game rewards those that played the original as it gives them a deeper understanding of the circumstances. I don't want to give away anything that would spoil the surprises but let's just say that you're going to find yourself split between two realities.

The storyline is so integral to the game that all interactivity is perfectly constituted within the context. In other words, there is a purpose to the puzzles. You will find the odd locked door but they don't seem like they were included just to as a threat to block your progress until you can locate the key. Nor will you find obscure and insanely difficult puzzles that take you away from the story. Often there is more than one way to solve a puzzle. In some instances you can avoid them altogether or talk your way out certain situations. All elements in this game are designed to enhance the story and make you feel as though you are experiencing the adventure and not just playing a game. Some adventure fans may be disappointed with the lack of difficult puzzles but if they can resign themselves to take this game for what it is, they are going to be in for a real treat.

There is lots of dialog in this game, because there are a lot of characters. Thankfully it's well written and very well acted. The game toys with your emotions. You will feel pity, anger, fear, bewilderment and even have a few good laughs along the way.

Zoe Castillo is the sultry brunette protagonist. She's going through a little bit of a rough time just having broke up with her boyfriend and living at home with her father while trying to figure out what she wants to be in life. But fate soon intervenes and sends her on a journey to faraway locations where fantasy and reality exist in a symbiotic relationship. Zoe gets caught up as one of the only people that can travel between these two worlds to try to solve the problems that are causing disturbances in the technological world.

Zoe isn't the only character that you get to play as. There are two other characters that you can control. It's interesting to see the different worlds from their perspective. There are tons of characters in this game and they will react differently to each playable character. You will also have a variety of questions and responses at your command which will further alter the way characters relate and react to you. One of the more interesting characters is Zoe's robotic monkey that acts as a comedic foil to lighten up some of the tension. The characters display a lot of nuances in their words, actions and facial animation. They are among some of the most realistic AI I've encountered.

Set in the future, the real world locations are spectacular, displaying science fiction-style architecture with natural surroundings. Even the wondrous lands that exist in the magic realm are believable. Everything seems cohesive and as alien as some of the lands and creatures may be, it all seems to fit within the context of the story. Highly recommended for those that are looking for not only something that's different, but something's that done well.

Features:

  • Dreamfall is a thrilling action-adventure featuring three playable characters, dozens of locations spanning three worlds, exciting set-pieces with multiple outcomes, action-packed adventure gameplay, and an epic and emotional storyline.
  • Unparalleled Gameplay Variety
    You will never run out of new things to do! Explore exotic locations, travel between three worlds, embark on epic quests, converse with fully voiced characters, fight intelligent monsters, sneak through dark shadows and past dangerous enemies, solve intriguing puzzles, and play fun mini-games.
  • Three Playable Characters
    Experience the story from three separate perspectives, and use abilities unique to each character: strength, street-smarts, and dexterity.
  • Three Worlds
    From vast cities to deep forests, across the seven seas and into endless caverns, above and beyond anything you have ever seen - the twin worlds of science and magic are filled with challenges and adventure. But in the world outside theworlds - in the Winter - logic does not apply, and nothing will have prepared you for the ultimate truth.
  • Play It Your Way!
    Multiple solutions and multiple outcomes place you in charge of the story. Make choices that affect how people relate to you; solve conflicts with cunning or with violence; and speak your mind in branching dialogues.
  • Powerful World Interaction
    Interact with the environment through the use of the brand new Focus Field feature, an easy-to-use context-sensitive interface, and fully analog character controls - giving you total power over your character.

By Mike Chasselwaite
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (PC)
4.8
Graphics
You wouldn't be able to enjoy this game on the PS2. The visuals are simply stunning. Watch out Myst.
3.3
Control
There are not a lot of puzzles in the game and while you do directly control the character the moves aren't very deep.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Excellent voice acting, which is a good thing because there is a lot of it.
3.8
Play Value
Not a lot of reasons to replay the game. You won't get all your questions answered no matter how many times you replay it.
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PC (shown), X
Dev: Funcom
Pub: Aspyr
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1
Review by Mike

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best