Reviews// Dreamfall Chapters

Posted 29 Jun 2017 17:38 by
They say your first stays with you forever and with point & click games that is certainly true for me. I came to the genre what some would consider to be late, with The Longest Journey being the first game I played on a PC capable of playing games. A lifetime later I sat down with the third game in the series - Dreamfall Chapters.

The game begins with the funeral for April Ryan, Resistance leader and, more importantly, girl who started this whole thing. Zoe Castillo is trapped in Storytime, a place beyond the world of the physical, unable to escape because of her own self doubt and Kian Alvane has been imprisoned for treason against the Azahdi Empire.

A lot of people will be new to this franchise and so these names won't mean much to them. Chapters continues the narrative from the previous game and picks up right where Dreamfall: The Longest Journey left off. Thankfully there is enough exposition early on to rapidly bring new players up to speed without being too frustrating for new players. The two main characters are instantly likeable with clear motivations and objectives for both new and returning players to get their teeth in to.

There are multiple worlds in the Dreamfall Chapters story: the world of Stark, which is our world, the world of science; and Arcadia, a world of magic and fantastical beings. There are worlds between and surrounding both of these, but to go too in-depth would also be to spoil the story. Zoe Castillo is from Stark, but she is a Dreamer, able to move between worlds. Kian is from Arcadia, an Apostle, a living weapon and also a traitor to his Empire.

Both characters are on a journey to save their respective worlds and the journey they must undertake is long, but not necessarily in miles. Rather, in character development. Across the five books that comprise the game you only visit a handful of locations in all of the worlds, but your every conversation and choice shapes not only the characters you control, but also those around you, sometimes in unforeseeable ways.

Every time you make a choice the game will inform you that it will have consequences, and sometimes these choices are so monumental that the whole balance of the story will shift.

The concept of The Balance is a constant in this universe of worlds built upon the reality of stories having power, of space and time being malleable by an undercurrent of Story.

At the end of each Book you are presented with a list of your choices and a reminder of their possible consequences, in some games this particular formula can feel unnecessary because ultimately your choices make very little difference. With Dreamfall Chapters your choices can sometimes feel a bit pointless, but a handful of them will cut off entire sections of the game, introducing new characters that players on the other side of a previous choice won't see and modifying the fate of characters appearing in all timelines.

Graphically this game boasts beautiful art direction even if the visuals aren't cutting edge. The voice acting is solid and almost uniformly excellent, although there are a few bit characters who sound a little phoned in, though they are gone rather quickly and represent minor bumps in a smooth ride. The music is understated but suits the game's tone and setting perfectly.

Some people may find the gameplay a little on the light side. There is no real fail state, nor is there any form of combat. There are some light puzzle sections and exploration, but really Dreamfall Chapters exists to tell a story in a format that can't be replicated in film or in-betweens the pages of a book.

This is a no-brainer for fans of the previous games. For people new to the series this is a good spot to jump in, but some of the emotional impact may be lost and the big twist will definitely be lost on you unless you've played the first game. It is still good but it might lack the gut punch I felt. If you can, it is well worth playing through The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey before playing the conclusion to this tale.

Pros:
+ Excellent story that delivers across all five Books
+ Mostly great voice acting from the small but deep cast of main characters
+ Solid art direction brings to life the twin worlds of Stark and Arcadia
+ There is a character called Shitbot and he's the best
+ For fans of the franchise, be ready with the tissues in Book Five

Cons:
- Animations can appear stiff in some scenes
- Some of the dialogue and sexual humour may be too crude or unexpected for some

SPOnG Score: 9/10

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